Tips for Building a Strong Landlord/Tenant Relationship
I would not call myself an expert, per se, but after more than a decade of managing our personal rental properties, I have learned a few things. On a recent trip to transition our house from one set of tenants to another one, I was asked by my mother why I put so much energy into making everything perfect when another set of tenants were going to come in and treat it like a rental? I contemplated this question with every toilet and floor I scrubbed. I finally told my mom that I believe it follows the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have do unto you". I want our rentals to be the type of home I would like to move into. In addition, I realized that I set this standard, in part because it is an investment in our family's future.
Another component to my strategy, as a landlord, is to create a respectful relationship with our tenants. I want them to know that I care about the home and their well being while they live there. Taking a little extra time to do a walk through with your tenants and sharing the nuances that every home has will help establish the fact that you have taken the time to think through the things that may will impact their enjoyment of the home.
After making sure that every surface was cleaned, every light bulb and smoke detector worked, I also made a point to leave the tenants with a tool caddy that was stocked with spare light bulbs, sprinkler heads, a simple drain cleaner and various other items that are good to have on hand for quick fixes.
For our own convenience while we lived in the home, I placed all user manuals into plastic sleeves in a binder for easy access. This turned out to be a great thing to leave behind for the tenants as well.
Once everything was in place and it was time for me to turn the home over to yet another family, I left a small gift basket of items from a local bakery for them to enjoy on moving day and beyond. A small gesturethat says "welcome home", as I want them to embrace and treat the home as their own and let them know that we are happy to have them as our tenants.
As our tenants settle in and our family spends some vacation time overseas, we let our tenants know that we would not be reachable for a couple of weeks and provided them with the name of a local handyman that we have on standby, should our tenants need anything while we were gone. Again, a quick and easy way to let them know that you care about them and their time as your tenants.
I still chuckle a bit at the irony of my mother being the one who posed this question to me, given the fact that she is the one that taught me how to treat others. I guess this is a perfect example of paying it forward. Thanks mom!
Related reading: "Becoming Your Own Property Manager"