Communication and clarity are the backbone of any relationship, personal or professional, and the landlord-tenant relationship is no different. Focusing your attention on establishing strong lines of tenant communication enables you to solve problems quickly, prevent others from happening in the first place, and keep yourself legally protected when one spirals out of control.
Don’t Let the Lease Speak for Itself
It’s the tenant’s responsibility to read and understand the lease, and even though an “I forgot” defense won’t hold any water in or out of the courts, forget they will. No tenant is ever going to memorize the lease, and after a couple months into the contract, they might have forgotten about important elements. If you sense that tenants are getting a little lax about something you placed in the lease, politely remind them before an issue comes to a head. This can go for payment due dates, late fees, and maintenance requests. When sending out reminders or contacting a tenant out of concern, don’t make it feel like an interrogation – starting a discussion with negativity doesn’t leave much room for maintaining a solid landlord-tenant relationship. It’s also a great idea to provide your tenant with a copy of their lease agreement after signing. Printing them a copy and handing it to them can be nice – you know they received it – but they’ll also be prone to losing it. A service like Innago sends them a digital copy of their lease and can be a great way to ensure your tenants always have access to the important information they need.
Be Professional, but Not Distant
Remember: this is your job. Making it clear to your tenants that your relationship with them is first and foremost a professional one can prevent misunderstandings from occurring down the road. If you’ve been too buddy-buddy with a tenant, they might feel that certain parts of the lease no longer apply, and when an issue does arise, might react indignantly when you remind them of the terms agreed upon in the lease. That said, being a silent landlord can negatively impact how your tenants view you, which in turn will make them less likely to contact you when something comes up. When it comes to tenant communication, the content and tone of your interaction is just as important as the frequency.
Knowing Your Tenants Allows for Flexibility
Knowing even vague details about the lives of your renters can make tenant communication and conflict resolution much easier. If you’re aware that one of your tenants is a freelancer who makes ends meet from gig to gig, you might be more inclined to show them some leniency if they inform you that, after months of rent payment without issue, their rent might be a few days late next month. Of course, you don’t want to get walked all over, but knowing when to cut your tenants some slack if the situation calls for it can be hugely beneficial to your relationship.
Small Things Can Go a Long Way
Even the smallest of sentiments can have a big impact on a landlord-tenant relationship. If it’s the holidays, consider sending a handwritten card to the property, or even a homemade batch of cookies. There are plenty of holiday gift options that are a great and affordable way to let your tenant know you appreciate them. It might be a small gesture, but it means a lot to tenants when they know their landlord is thinking about them, and it can give you as a landlord a good opportunity for less fun reminders, such as making sure the property is locked and safe if they’re going out of town for the holidays.
Automate What You Can
Oftentimes, late rent or bad tenant behavior can be solved with just a little handholding and a few steady reminders, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. Tenant communication can sometimes feel like a full-time job if you’re managing the entire process yourself, and even worse if your only communicating in person or through mail. That’s why it’s a great idea to find a system that takes on the easy, recurring stuff for you. A platform like Innago will send rent reminders to your tenants every month without any work required from you. It’ll let your tenants know when late fees are stacking up, when their lease is expiring, and when a maintenance request has been fixed. And because Innago provides your tenant with their own login portal where they can see past rental payments, access their lease, and manage their rental, many minor and innocuous questions that might normally waste your time can be answered by the tenant themselves. In fact, taking repetitive reminders like these examples off your plate can free you up to focus on the kind of tenant communication that makes you an exceptional landlord (see above).
But no matter what you decide, make tenant communication a priority and you’ll have better, happier tenants who are also a breeze to manage. Trust us, it’s worth it.
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