Rental Management

How Being a Silent Landlord Can Cause Problems

October 19, 2017

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Why You Should Not Be A Silent Landlord

Nobody understands how busy you are as a property manager or landlord better than us here at Innago. You’re constantly meeting deadlines and handling situations and challenges that it’s impossible to plan for or even see coming. Compounding this, for many landlords, managing properties is a side gig, paired with a 9-5 job that has its own demands and stresses.  It can be easy to let some of the finer points of property management fall between the cracks; however, failing to stay connected to your tenants can create significantly more work in the long run.  It’s important to work hard to avoid being a silent landlord and really, just a little communication can go a long way.

If your tenants feel like you don’t care, they won’t, either.

Even if you do care about your property and the tenants living in it, if you don’t express it to your tenants, they won’t know. Many of the tenants who live in your properties have likely had a negative experience with a previous landlord at some point in their life, and they might be wary of a silent landlord who doesn’t seem engaged with managing their property seriously. If they get the sense that you’re distant or can’t be bothered with addressing their needs fully and appropriately, then you can hardly expect them to treat your property with due care.

Additional Reading: Moving Out: 5 Ways to Ensure a Smooth Transition Between Tenants

On the other hand, if tenants sense that you care about the property (and them!), they’ll reciprocate.

This doesn’t require you to become best buddies with your tenants, but making it clear to them that they aren’t just some disposable cash cow for you can go a long way in how they treat the property. If, for example, a tenant accidentally breaks something within the property, who do you think they’re more likely to be upfront with: the silent landlord they’ve never heard from after the move-in date, or the landlord who sent a friendly “How’s it going?” text last month? Remember, reliable tenants who stay for multiple years are a landlord’s dream, so make sure you’re taking the steps necessary to keep a hold of the ones you like and trust. Currently, rental vacancy rates across the nation are declining, which is good news for you, but even a month or two of an empty property can be a substantial setback for many property managers.

Additional Reading: How to Handle Long-term Guests

Cooperating to resolve an issue will be even harder if it’s the first time you’ve interacted in months.

The only person who’ll be happy when a maintenance issue arises is the handyman getting paid to fix it. That doesn’t mean things have to get sour or awkward between you and your tenants, however. One of the last things you want when walking into a property to assess a problem is realizing you don’t remember which tenant is which and you can’t name a single thing about them. Communicating with your tenants and developing some level of rapport can make future issues resolve themselves much more easily. This can help ease the “oh no, my landlord is in my house right now” feeling that tenants get in their gut whenever the landlord needs to stop by for something. Simply knowing a question or topic to get an easy conversation going with your tenants can make your time with them less stressful and awkward.

Of course, don’t go overboard in the other direction.

Even if you’re well-intentioned, if you’re trying to be too cozy with your tenants, they might feel you’re a “helicopter landlord” who won’t leave them alone. Just because you get along well with your tenants doesn’t mean they want you checking in all the time. There’s a happy medium between being a silent landlord and an overbearing one. Even something as simple as giving tenants a heads-up about an art festival next weekend a couple streets over can go a long way in how your tenants feel about you.

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