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Do healthy relationships with tenants mean fewer claims?

Do healthy relationships with tenants mean fewer claims?

14 Mar 2023 7 mins read

A rental is supposed to be a profitable investment for the landlord and a home for the tenants – not a battlefield. No-one wants landlords and agents to be at odds with their tenants, so we’ve got a few tips to help build a positive relationship with your renters.

Let’s be honest. A poor relationship between landlord/agent and tenant can create a very unpleasant and combative atmosphere that makes interaction difficult. That’s no fun for anyone.

And no fun for the landlord insurance provider either. Why? Because when relationships between owners (or their agents) and renters are bad, it can result in things that impact insurance – like malicious damage and unpaid rent. So call it a bit of self-interest if you will, but it’s why we’re offering a few tips for landlords and agents to help build and maintain a great relationship with tenants!

Tip 1: Maintain open lines of communication

You will have heard this before – communication is key – and that’s particularly true in the rental world. Tenants are not ‘set and forget’, so you can’t get a tenant to sign the lease agreement and then forget they are in the rental. Only hearing from you if there’s a problem, can make the tenants feel like they’re just a cash machine. This, in turn, can make tenants reluctant to let you know about issues (such as financial stress, illness or relationship breakdown) before they become major problems and impact the tenancy. On the flipside, maintaining open lines of communication with tenants increases the chances that they will work cooperatively with you for the duration of the lease.

Tip 2: Be proactive  

It is important to undertake regular inspections without being unreasonable or intrusive. They give you a chance to check that the tenant is looking after the property and gives them a chance to discuss any issues. The inspections also give you the opportunity to be a bit proactive and tend to things you spot are amiss or would make the property a better home. This shows tenants that you are interested in the property’s upkeep and their living conditions.

Insurance note: There’s a condition in insurance policies about acting to prevent further loss. If tenants or agent can’t get in touch with the landlord if something has happened at the rental and don’t have authority to act, the landlord may find they have breached the requirement in their policy.

Tip 3: Put yourself in their shoes

The property might be the landlord’s investment and the agent’s business to manage, but it’s the tenant’s home.

Be sure to respect the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment of their home. Avoid showing up unannounced, treating tenants like employees or overstepping boundaries when it comes to privacy. Liaise with the tenant to find mutually suitable times for inspections or to have routine maintenance carried out.

Be ever-mindful of your, and the tenants’, responsibilities as set out under the lease agreement and within tenancy law. Not understanding each other’s rights and obligations can result in argy-bargy and downright unpleasantness.

Tip 4: Be honest

Just as you’d like the tenants to be honest with you, you should be honest with them. If something is happening that may affect their tenancy, have the courtesy to tell them. Say, for example, the property needs to be sold. This, understandably, could be very worrying for the tenants as they may face the prospect of losing their home. Provide advance notice for tenants about situations such as these, so they have time to prepare and you can discuss the appropriate next steps. It is also courteous to let tenants know in advance if the rent is going to be raised (based on the terms of the rental agreement and applicable laws).

Tip 5: Never forget it’s the tenant’s home

When a problem arises that presents safety or health issues (e.g. defective water heaters, air-conditioners or stoves, clogged drains, or damage caused by rain), owners are required to act.

Insurance note: It is a condition in building policies to adequately maintain the premises. Failing to do so could void cover or see any claim reduced or denied.

Urgent and emergency repairs must be attended to immediately and not doing so can be a breach of tenancy laws. But it is often other issues that tenants want sorted in a timely manner, particularly things that affect their enjoyment of the home (e.g. a window that sticks, cupboard doors off their hinges, holes in driveways). Yes, it may be an additional expense but remember this is the tenant’s home. Would you be happy to put up with whatever they are concerned about not being fixed if it was at your home?

Tip 6: See the bigger picture

Tenants who are happy are more likely to maintain the rental, respect the house rules and pay their rent on time and in full. So, it’s in the landlord’s and agent’s best interests to try to make for happy tenants at the investment property.

Insurance note: Happy tenants are less likely to default on their rent or damage the property.

A good relationship is the foundation for a smooth rental experience. If you take care of the tenants, they are more likely to take care of the property. But on the off-chance they don’t, specialist landlord insurance could prove invaluable. Chat to a member of our Expert Care team or your Client Relationship Manager about cover.

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