If you’ve been a landlord for any length of time, you know that it can be really hard to find good tenants – and even harder to keep them renewing their leases year after year.
But what if you, as a landlord, could behave in ways that earn your tenants’ loyalty and respect, encourage them to pay their rent on time, and make them more amenable to renewing their leases? You can. When you uphold your end of the rental bargain by making repairs quickly, respecting your legal obligations, and respecting tenants’ privacy, your tenants will behave better and develop a sense of loyalty to you as a landlord. Here’s how to make it happen.
1) Solve Problems and Make Repairs Quickly
No one wants to live in a run-down, dilapidated home. Your tenants are, presumably, paying for a comfortable, clean, and modern home where things work properly, and nothing leaks. As a landlord, you have a responsibility to keep the rental unit in good repair. Some states may even establish time limits for repairs to be made to rental units.
That means that if one of your tenants calls with an emergency repair, you should have it done right away – that very day, if possible. Non-emergency repairs also need to be handled in a timely fashion, but you can afford to work with your tenant to arrange a good time for contractors to come over. If you only have one property, keeping track of which repairs need to be made and on what timeline is usually pretty simple, but if you have multiple properties, you may want to use a software solution for HOA and property management to keep everything on schedule.
Of course, repairs aren’t the only concerns tenants may contact you with. They can have problems with other tenants in a multi-family home or apartment complex, for example, as well as issues with things like street noise or even wild animals and pests. Take tenants’ concerns seriously and do what you can to address them. Even if it’s something you can’t really fix, like a complaint about a neighbor in a property you don’t own, you can at least make your tenant feel listened to.
2) Have Empathy for Tenants in Difficult Circumstances
In a perfect world, every tenant would always pay their rent on time, but we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in this world, where even great tenants can sometimes fall behind on rent due to extenuating circumstances – all it takes is one calamity to jeopardize a tenant’s ability to pay rent. You may not want to begin eviction proceedings immediately – cutting your tenants a little slack when they fall on hard times will win their loyalty, because they’ll remember your kindness in the future, when it’s time to renew the lease.
3) Know and Respect Your Obligations Under the Law
Each state has landlord-tenant laws that lay out your rights and responsibilities to your tenants, and theirs to you. Familiarize yourself with these laws before you become a landlord. That way you’ll know how much you can take for a security deposit and how to handle that deposit, how much notice you’ll need to give before inspecting your property, how to start eviction proceedings, what clauses you can put in a lease agreement, and so on. You and your tenants will be happier, and you’ll avoid having to go to court.
4) Screen for Good Tenants as Well as Weeding Out Duds
There’s really no way to stop mediocre tenants from contacting you about or applying for your rental units – they’re going to be attracted by your listings just as much as good tenants will. You should definitely perform background checks before you rent to anyone, but you can also pre-screen renters before you get to that point. When you meet a tenant in person, make clear what your qualification criteria are – many bad tenants will fade away when they realize they’re not qualified to rent your property. Prepare screening questions to ask a prospective tenant before you even get their application, so you can focus on singling out the most promising ones.
5) Respect Tenants’ Privacy and Concerns
In many states, you’ll have to give at least 24 hours’ notice before you can enter a tenant’s unit to inspect it. Even if your state doesn’t require a notice period, you should put one in your lease and adhere to it, out of respect for tenants’ privacy. Barring an emergency situation, there’s really no need for you to drop in on tenants unannounced, especially if you choose your tenants wisely. Tenants will like you more and feel more comfortable in your property if you respect their privacy.
You should also be willing to lend an ear to any concerns tenants may have about the property or the neighborhood, or issues with the property that need to be addressed. Address those concerns you can fix as soon as possible, but practice making your tenants feel heard about all of their concerns, and they’ll feel like you’re doing a great job managing your property, even when they’re complaining about things that are out of your control.
The loyalty of your tenants is one of your most valuable possessions as a landlord, because it keeps tenants renewing leases, and could even lead to word-of-mouth advertising for your rental business. Keep your tenants happy, and they’ll keep you happy in return.