Four Ways to Encourage Tenants to Treat the Property Like It's Theirs
It's easy for tenants to believe that because they don't actually own the property, they're not really responsible for it. On your end, the result of that mindset can be complaints from the neighbors, problems on move out day, and all kinds of headaches. It's best to develop strategies to head off problem behavior at the pass. With these easy tips, you'll help convince your tenants to take care of your property like they own it.
Stay in Communication
If you make yourself or your company difficult to contact, you'll cultivate the perception that you don't really care about your tenants. They'll be more likely to push limits and see what they can get away with, especially if you or your employees don't have a physical presence around the property.
Dispel these beliefs by making sure that you're friendly and easy to get in touch with. Make all replies prompt and courteous, and be sure to occasionally inspect the property. Not only will you see any problems that may be forming, but you'll remind your tenants that if they get lax or dirty, you'll notice.
Make Sure the Lease Is Clear
As you draft your leases, look closely at what expectations you lay out in terms of cleanliness. What kinds of cleaning or maintenance are you asking your tenants to engage in, if any? What fees do you say you'll levy if your tenants don't properly clean or maintain the property?
If you don't lay out these expectations, you can't complain (legally, at least) when the tenants aren't meeting them. Be absolutely clear about what you want out of your tenants to avoid disputes.
Address Problems Early
If you expect that a tenant isn't doing what they should to maintain the property, don't just let it slide. Initiate a conversation about it sooner rather than later, while the problem's easier to deal with.
Note that this doesn't necessarily mean that you should levy fees or threaten to terminate the lease right away, especially if the problem isn't severe or this is the first problem you've had with the tenant. Instead, you may prefer to enter into a friendly but serious discussion with the tenant about the situation. Doing this will preserve a warm relationship with your tenants rather than making you look punitive or demanding. They'll be more likely to amend their behavior voluntarily.
Teach Tenants How to Clean
Some tenants may be lazy or too busy to clean, but some — especially young people — may not know how. In these cases, don't hesitate to offer instructions. Consider assembling a written packet with directions on how to perform basic cleaning tasks with the greatest efficiency. If you have the time and generally have a close relationship with your tenants, you may even give a demo of some essential skills on move-in day to make sure your tenants are on the same page as you. This drives home your tenants' perception that you sincerely care about them keeping the property clean. And if they don't follow your instructions, you can't say they didn't know what to do.
Trying to get your tenants to care properly for your property may seem like a daunting job. You are, after all, asking them to change something fundamental about their behavior! But take heart: If you incorporate these tips into your repertoire as a property manager or landlord, you'll change your tenant's habits quickly and get them to treat your property with maturity and respect.
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