How To Improve Your Tenant Relationships

Jacqui Coombe

As a landlord, it’s in your best interests to be on good terms with your tenants. A good landlord/tenant relationship ensures the rent gets paid on time, your property is looked after and your tenants stay with you for the long term.

But what constitutes being a good landlord in a renter’s eyes? Here are some key areas where the approach you take can determine the kind of relationship you have with your tenants.

Maintenance & repairs

Taking care of maintenance issues promptly is a big one with renters. Having to wait weeks in the height of summer for a broken air conditioner to be replaced or putting up with a constantly dripping tap won’t endear tenants to you or make them keen to renew their lease.

If a tenant reports a maintenance problem, take care of it as quickly as possible, because the cost of the repair could be a lot less than the cost of finding a new tenant while your property sits vacant.

And if the maintenance request involves a security or safety issue, such as a broken door lock or a malfunctioning smoke alarm, see to it immediately, as your landlord's insurance may depend on it.

Pets

More people than ever are choosing ‘fur babies’ for companionship but finding rental accommodation that allows pets can be difficult.

In strata title apartments, whether you can have a pet is decided by the body corporate by-laws. But in a private rental situation, you will need to use your discretion as a landlord.

Many landlords see pets as a risk, but small animals can often be acceptable, providing they do not disturb other tenants and the owner agrees to fumigate the apartment at their own expense upon vacating.

Whether you allow pets or not is up to you, but if your property is reasonably pet-friendly (i.e. has a fenced yard and inexpensive carpets and furnishings), it may be in your best interests to say ‘yes’ if it means securing a reliable long-term tenant.

Rent

Knowing the amount of rent to charge for your property requires doing some market research and identifying what others are charging for similar premises in your area.

It’s crucial to get it right because charging too much rent will make tenants resentful and charging too little may not cover your investment costs.

You are entitled to raise the rent, as long as you give your tenants adequate notice, but before you do, make sure you consider whether the additional money is worth the cost of potentially losing a good long-term tenant and gaining a more high maintenance one.

Privacy

The respect you show for your tenant’s privacy is another area that will determine your relationship with them. You aren’t allowed to demand access to rental premises without notice and yet some fledgling landlords arrive unannounced on their tenant’s doorstep, considering it their right because it is their property.

As a landlord, you have the right to access the property for inspections, maintenance and to show to prospective new tenants, but you must give the current tenants adequate notice and only request access for reasonable times (i.e. between 9 am and 5 pm).

Key attributes to develop

A good relationship between landlord and tenant is one built on trust and mutual respect and this can be accomplished by cultivating the following attributes;

  • Good communication – this will ensure you’re always on the same page. Always ask, never assume and be a good listener and empathizer. Open communication lines early and stay in regular contact, communicating with them via their preferred means (i.e. face-to-face, phone, fax, or email).
  • Transparency - be upfront with your tenants about everything. Take them step-by-step through the rental contract to make sure they understand it and won’t be surprised by anything later on. Tell them about any issues the property may have had in the past and explain how the maintenance, repairs, and inspection processes work.
  • Flexibility - be prepared to be a little flexible if your tenants are occasionally late with the rent or accidentally damage something at the property. Your flexibility will earn their loyalty, just make sure it doesn’t become a regular occurrence.
  • Reliability - reliability can make or break a landlord/tenant relationship. And that means being available if your tenant needs you. Make sure they have several ways to contact you and the contact numbers of relevant tradespeople in case of emergency.

As a landlord, your tenants are ultimately your customers and the health of your rental business relies on keeping them happy. So fostering and maintaining good relationships not only makes good sense but good business sense as well.

Because the truth is, it’s harder and more costly to replace a tenant than it is to keep them happy, so it pays to be penny-wise rather than pound-foolish.

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Jacqui Coombe has been a prolific reader since childhood, and now channels her love of the written word into writing content on a range of topics from business, marketing and finance to travel and lifestyle.

Santa Monica, CA
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