Landord 101: Maintaining Good Landlord Tenant Relations (Part 6)
The homework to set up your rental is done, and you’ve found some great tenants. Now you’re officially a landlord, and you need to make sure you’re ready to handle issues and conflicts that inevitably come up along the way. The key is to create and maintain great landlord-tenant relations.
Better yet, you can plan so that you can avoid as many problems as possible. Taking a few steps to improve communication, prevent misunderstandings, and develop a strong relationship with your tenants will also increase the likelihood that your tenants will renew their lease later.
Building Positive Relationships With Tenants
A good, professional relationship starts when all parties have clear expectations and understand their responsibilities. Begin by providing written information on all policies along with the rental agreement. Be sure to include rules for pets, guests, noise, and repair requests, among others.
Whenever possible, go over all policies in person with renters so you can be sure they understand and have an opportunity to ask any questions. Make it clear that the rules are firm and discuss what actions you’ll take if they aren’t followed, but don’t threaten or make it sound like you expect problems. You want to inform tenants without starting things off in an adversarial way.
You don’t want to be a pushover, but you do want to remain approachable. After all, if there are problems you should know about, you want your tenant to come to you.
Handling Conflicts With Your Tenants
By carefully screening and choosing tenants, you can usually avoid major problems. But even with the best residents, things break, mistakes are made, and issues surface.
Try thinking about how you plan to handle complaints from and frustrations with tenants ahead of time when you’re calm. Go over some likely scenarios, such as frequent phone calls about tenant gripes or pet misbehavior, and consider how you will respond. Will you be able to resolve issues with tenants face-to-face or on the phone without losing your cool?
Of course, policies for handling serious or repeated problems should be clear in the lease, including warnings, fines, and, if needed, eviction.
It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with local eviction laws ahead of time. Don’t wait until a tenant is late on the rent. Even if you know the laws, you may find you need to consult an attorney to resolve serious problems or handle an eviction.
Some property owners enjoy the tenant-relations aspect of rental ownership, while others find it daunting or frustrating. If dealing with tenants sounds like a hassle, a property manager can relieve you of that and other rental property chores. Property managers can communicate with tenants on your behalf, handle all questions and complaints, and deal with any policy violations in a firm, professional manner.