Throwing down the gauntlet, pistols at dawn or just some regular argy-bargy... sometimes relationships between landlords/agents and tenants can be a tad strained. Use these tips to invoke a bit of harmony.
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 is in the landlord’s, and agent’s, best interests to try to make for happy tenants at their investment property.
If you’re wondering why a landlord insurance provider is keen to promote a “love thy tenant” vibe, the reason is simple. Bad relationships between landlords/agents and tenants can lead to issues at the insured property – things like malicious damage and unpaid rent. You don’t want that (it is stressful), we don’t want that (it can be expensive).
Here are five ways to build and maintain healthy and respectful relationships with your tenants:
Yes, the tenancy agreement sets out all the legal and contractual obligations of each party. But just getting the tenant to sign the document, and then forgetting they are in the rental, is a potential recipe for disaster.
Two-way communication makes sure all parties know what is expected of them and what is happening at the property (e.g. reporting issues, advising of trades coming, inspections, etc.). “I didn’t know” and “You never said” are opening gambits no-one wants to play.
Be available and be responsive. You do not have to cater to your tenant’s every whim, but actions like answering their calls and being open and honest will help build trust.
Have multiple channels for communication – written letters, emails, phone calls, face-to-face, video chat and specialist software apps (for things like paying rent or making repair requests). But put everything important in writing, things like tardy payments, complaints, maintenance requests and actions tenants have agreed to undertake.
Your rental property is someone else’s home. They may want to do a few things about the place to make it more their own. Keep your expectations in check and be open to discussion and negotiation. If your tenant has done the wrong thing (something minor that is, like being a bit noisy or being late once with the rent), consider giving them a second chance. To err is human, to forgive could save you the hassle of finding new tenants!
You need to expect the home will be lived in, and this means there will be wear and tear. It also means that accidents might happen. Insurance note: a policy that offers cover for all types of damage – accidental, intentional and malicious – is a wise investment.
Undertake regular inspections as this gives you a chance to check that the tenant is looking after the property and gives them a chance to discuss any issues. It also gives you the opportunity to be a bit proactive and tend to things you spot are amiss or would make the property a better home.
Respect their relationship with the property
The property might be your investment, but it is your tenant’s home and their place of belonging. That is an emotional relationship that needs to be sensitively handled.
Be sure to respect your 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.
If you focus on tenant safety and comfort, you’ll be seen as managing your responsibilities well.
Mutual respect is essential. Try to put yourself in your tenant’s shoes. Listen to them. If you establish a solid and respectful relationship, tenants are more likely to let you know if they are having problems early on (e.g. financial stress or relationship issues that could eventually impact the tenancy), so you can work together to find a solution.
Think about some of the “little things” you can do to show that your tenant is not just a rent payment. Remember the names of their children, let them keep a pet or send a card on their birthday. Get to know them a bit (without being intrusive or invading their privacy) and let them get to know you a little. Aim to be friendly, but not become their BFF – the landlord/agent–tenant relationship is essentially a business arrangement and things should be kept professional.
Be sure to consider your tenant’s needs, especially if something is happening at the rental that affects them, like you are putting the property on the market or raising the rent.
A bit of empathy can go a long way. Unemployment, relationship breakdowns, ill health and death can all put strain on your tenants and impact their tenancy. While it is not always economically viable to extend support to tenants, some sort of arrangement being struck could help you keep an otherwise amazing tenant and they can keep a familiar roof over their heads.
Attend to maintenance issues
A major source of grief between landlords and tenants? The tenant’s requests for repairs and maintenance not being acknowledged or promptly addressed. Of course there are repair and maintenance issues that must be attended to immediately (urgent and emergency repairs) 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. Yes, it may be an additional expense you could do without but remember this is your tenant’s home. Would you be happy to put up with whatever they are concerned about not being fixed at your place?
It is also important to give your tenants an update on maintenance requests. Let them know you have received it and what you are doing about it and when they can reasonably expect it to be fixed.
Once the repair is made, be sure to follow up with the tenant to make sure all is well.
Insurance note: Delaying repairs or maintenance can open the landlord up to a legal liability claim if a tenant or their guest is injured as a result.
In a nutshell: if you take care of your tenants, they will take care of your property. And on the off-chance they do not, make sure you have a specialist landlord insurance policy in place!
*While we have taken care to ensure the information above is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances and legislation after the displayed date may impact the accuracy of this article. If you need us we are there, contact 1800 661 662 if you have any questions.