keysI know it sounds kind of cold but, establishing good tenant/owner relations is paramount to a successful landlord business. The first time you meet your prospective tenant is going to set the tone for the relationship and either create a positive atmosphere with clear rules and expectations or an atmosphere that can become negative and riddled with issues.

The first interactions between you and your prospective tenant will likely be a telephone call from them inquiring about your property for rent, followed by a showing. It is important to pay close attention to what kinds of questions the prospect is asking and there responses to your answers. There is a lot to be learned even from these brief interactions. For example, the landlord should pay attention to the use of words such as ‘we’ and ‘us’ if they claim to be living alone or questions about fencing or indirect questions about pets. Pets and roommates are often not revealed on the rental application by the prospective tenants so it is important to pay attention to these subtle clues.

The next step is the application and credit and background check phase. This is really the most important steps. This is the step where you ascertain if the prospect has sufficient income to pay there rent and if they have the discipline. If a prospect has numerous late payments and horrible credit then a landlord must follow there written criteria and not be swayed by any other factors. It is crucial to the success of a landlord to follow income, credit, and criminal criteria in order to attempt to weed out bad tenants and to follow the Fair Housing Act.

Once the landlord has found a reputable tenant it’s time to draft and sign the rental or lease agreement.  In the lease it is important for the landlord to spell out what is expected of the tenant. Ideally the tenant would be able to complete routine maintenance such as changing air filters, light bulbs,smoke detector batteries, etc. In some cases it is better to have a licensed contractor or yourself complete hard to complete routine maintenance to prevent a potential injury lawsuit. Tasks that may be dangerous such as those requiring use of a tall ladder could be completed as part of the annual inspection process.  It is the landlords responsibility to provide the tenants with quite and peaceful enjoyment of the property while still protecting his or her investment and ensuring the property is safe and up to code.

It is important to keep a good working relationship with tenants, this will prolong their tenancy and make life a lot easier. It is important to not befriend your tenants otherwise they will want exceptions to the rules. Keep the relationship business as usual and don’t break your own rules or at least not very often.