The most important part of any relationship is effective communication, and with any professional relationship being assertive and keeping your cool are the biggest things troubles people have. If you consistently have problems with tenants and you’re unsure why a great place to start is with your communication style. Are you telling them everything they need to know upfront? Are you sure they understand your intended message? Have you left a paper trail you can come back to if there are any disagreements? These are just some of the things to consider if you want to have effective landlord communication; here are some more:
All the Small Things
Small talk, small gestures, and small hellos: They can all help you establish a report with a tenant. In relationships where people do not have frequent human contact can result in easily vilifying a person. Reminding each other, you’re both humans can go a long way in keeping a relationship healthy.
If a tenant has been reliable with things like rent and letting you know when something needs fixing or have if they’ve been a long-time renter, it can strengthen that loyalty by letting go of small things. Maybe they’re late on rent for one month, and you don’t have to charge them extra. If you notice they do some upkeep, that’s not their responsibility, let them know you appreciate it by taking a little off the rent or by waving a future fee.
Know Your Tenants
Doing the small things will help you a lot with knowing your tenant. You don’t have to know everything, but knowing even basic things about their lives can make resolving conflict go smoothly and keep up the respect you both deserve.
Even on just a professional level, knowing a renter will help you trust them. For example, a person working in the gig economy can help you be understanding and help you be more flexible. This is extremely helpful for the relationship: an extenuating circumstance of a stranger is an annoying excuse, but with someone you know, it can be different, especially if they have a good track record with you.
Making the Lease Clear
Just because every tenant should read the lease before signing it doesn’t mean they will. At most, they will likely only skim it. Even though it is their job to read and understand it making it your responsibility to be sure they are aware of all the significant points will ensure the best chance for things going smoothly. And don’t forget to provide them with all copies of things like leases and receipts.
Sending out regularly scheduled reminders of the salient points on the lease can be very helpful. It’s easy for your tenants to forget things. Send reminders out every three to six months or anytime you know or suspect one of the agreements was violated. This will prevent the issue from growing into a big deal, potentially causing a counterproductive rift of the relationship. Rules concerning late fees, due dates, maintenance requests as well as regulations about the property are all things worth reminding.
Just because it’s a little too late for preventative measures doesn’t mean its okay to stop caring about effective communication. Once the adrenaline starts pumping, it can be easy to rely on instincts that will likely make things worse.
If you have a problematic tenant, frustration and anger are a natural and valid feeling, but it’s important to remember that acting from those places aren’t likely to work. Often a problematic tenant is not intending to make you angry or trying to skirt the system. They may have time management problems or are just inclined to absent-mindedness. You may have to remedy this by sending out notifications when rent or utilities are due.
It probably doesn’t sound too appealing to hold a full-grown person’s hand, but setting up an automated email to not just the one problem leaseholder but to all your renters can have great results with getting your rent on time. The process is relatively easy with the right tool. Or handing the reigns to a property management company can be a huge load off your shoulders.
Things to Remember
Professionalism is important, but so is being personable. Be sure to spend a little extra time getting to know some basic information about your tenants, and don’t be afraid to cut people who’ve been good tenants some slack. Not everyone is a wizard with forms and due dates, so be clear about lease expectations and send out reminders. And lastly, expressing anger or frustration to a tenant is likely the least productive way to resolve your differences.
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