The following article was originally published on Let’s Talk Property Management:
Good tenants are at the heart of a flourishing rental.
Tenants are the backbones of a property manager or landlord’s livelihood and should be treated accordingly. For landlords and property managers, tenants are and are the backbones of the business and livelihood. And while tenants can be frustrating, it’s imperative to remember excellent customer service to keep your dream tenants renting long-term, and avoid the cost of tenant turnover.
That all said, there are some surefire ways to drive away your tenants. Avoid these common landlord mistakes to ensure that your landlord-tenant relationship is a good one.
Don’t answer the phone
Communication is the foundation for a great landlord-tenant relationship. Avoiding phone calls, emails or text messages from tenants is bound to generate a lot of avoidable frustration. Not only can this cause your current renters to leave, but you can cause other renters to avoid your rental listing in the future. After all, news travels fast, drive away your tenants because you are hard to reach and you can bet that this information will be spread through word-of-mouth.
Make them hand-deliver checks
Sure, making your tenants hand-deliver checks to your office isn’t the worst thing you could do as a property manager, but allowing your tenants to pay online will ensure that you are more likely to get rent payments on-time and offer an added convenience to living on your property.
Avoid resolving maintenance issues
Legally, landlords are required to ensure that the property they are renting out meets the implied warranty of habitability. If you are not property addressing livability issues, a lack of lease renewal at the lease’s term is the least of your problems. Use a rental property safety checklist to guarantee that you have evaluated all areas of the unit for safety and functionality.
Only solve maintenance issues after a lot of time has passed
Avoid litigation or simply upset tenants by responding to maintenance issues in a timely manner. This ensures you are meeting your legal obligations to your tenants, ensures you are avoiding vacancies due to unhappy renters, and are properly caring for your investment by tackling issues before they grow.
Show up unannounced
Aside from emergent circumstances, most states require that a landlord give a notice of at least 24 hours before inspecting a rental property where tenants are living. While seasonal property maintenance is always a great idea, and it’s important to check in with your tenants, ensure that you are giving them proper notice. Consider giving more than the legal allotment to ensure that your tenants don’t feel blindsided by your visit.
Show up too frequently
While you are allowed to show up as often as necessary–provided you give proper notice to your tenants–it’s bound to become a source of frustration to your renters if your visits are too frequent. Landlords who visit the property too often begin to make their tenants feel like they have no privacy or are not trusted to care for the property. Instead, give them a tenant maintenance checklist and stick to periodic routine inspections to give your renters the space they need.
Raise the rent in huge amounts without warning
This is an all-too-common issue at which most renters will balk. While an annual incremental rent raise is normal, increasing the rent in huge amounts every 3-5 years will stun your tenants and may cause them to leave. Instead, write in an annual rent increase to gradually raise rent alongside growing property taxes and other expenses. A $25-$50 increase annually is a lot easier for tenants to wrap their minds around than a sudden $200 increase each month.
Speak poorly about your past tenants
Your last tenants may have been the stuff of true tenant horror stories, but regardless of how terrible they were, avoid constant complaints about your past renters. Speaking poorly of your past customers comes off unprofessional and will make your current tenants feel that their relationship with you is tenuous. Be professional and avoid drawing comparisons. If your current tenants are true gems, go ahead and tell them so, but don’t disparage your former tenants in the process.
Find creepy maintenance workers
Your vendors may not work directly for you, but they are still the face of your brand when you send them to repair a pipe or tend to the lawn. Hire a creepy or unprofessional maintenance worker and that will reflect directly upon your management team–regardless of whom contracted whom. To avoid driving off your best tenants; fully screen your vendors and ensure they are qualified and professional in every interaction with your renters.
Don’t explain property rules until they are “broken”
A landlord or property manager who does not overview the property rules and lease terms with a new tenant, should not be surprised when one of those rules are broken. Take a moment when your tenants sign the lease to fully address individual lease terms and convey your specific expectations. Don’t forget to explain any tenant maintenance tasks for which your renters will be responsible.
Keeping your tenants long-term is sometimes a simple matter of knowing what not to do. Avoiding excess tenant turnover, gaining a great reputation locally, and finding the best renters possible for your property are all important factors in running a getting the most out of your investment. Ensure that your tenants enjoy staying at your property by avoiding these surefire ways to drive away your tenants.