A good, professional relationship with your tenants will save you time and money in many ways. Having an adversarial relationship with a tenant can cost you more than just sleepless nights worrying whether they are going to pay. If a tenant is not interested in working with you, they are less likely to take care of your rental property or to let you know about problems as they develop. Learning about an issue early can be the difference between a quick repair and a lengthy, expensive contractor visit. It is important to train your tenants to help you out in taking care of your property.
On the flip side, if you have a good relationship with your tenant then you can keep them on the lookout for problems. Regular, friendly communication is a two-way street and will ensure the tenant acts as your eyes on the ground.
Problems to Look Out For
Many expensive home repairs can be cheaper if caught early. If the heater breaks down during a cold snap, your pipes may freeze and burst. Water damage, if it is not addressed quickly, will only get worse. When the winter hits, check in with your tenants about the heat to make sure it is working. You may wish to see if they plan to be away for any length of time during the cold spells. If they are, you may want to check on the house yourself while they are gone (per the terms of your lease, of course).
Rodent and insect infestations are also easier and cheaper to fix if caught early. If your tenant is comfortable reaching out to you as soon as they see a pest, then you can send over an exterminator right away. Taking care of the problem early can lower your exterminator costs, and may prevent unpleasant surprises when you get ready to show the place to the next tenants.
Other problems to keep your tenants on the lookout for include mold, leaks, and structural issues.
Establish a good relationship
How do you train your tenant to share these issues with you? It starts when you meet them. Establishing a polite, professional relationship early will pay off in the long-run. Establish a friendly but professional relationship by maintaining a good reputation in the community and by being prompt in all your communication with them. Stick to your word and be upfront with them at all times. You want your tenants to know that you are trustworthy and that you will treat them fairly. Developing a healthy respect during the application process will help to ensure that they do their best to take care of your rental and that they will reach out to you if anything goes wrong.
Keeping up a good relationship
To make sure the tenants tell you about problems as they develop, they will need to feel comfortable talking to you after they sign the lease too. When they do reach out, be encouraging and responsive. You do not want your tenants to be afraid to call you, so greet them warmly and respond to the situation calmly. Watch your tone and word choice so they do not think that you are blaming them for the issue (even if it is their fault). If they are worried about getting yelled at, they are going to let the problems fester.
You will also need to respond promptly to their concerns, no matter how small. Think about it from their perspective: if their landlord takes two weeks to get back to them every time they reach out, they will be slower to reach out in the first place.
Establish a good relationship, encourage communication and guide your tenants to keep an eye out on problems in the house. You and your bank account will be glad you did.
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