Landlords learn fast about the unpredictability of their jobs. The hours, the pay, the legislation—nothing is certain. But the most unpredictable part of being a landlord is also the most important—the tenants. No matter how thoroughly you vet potential tenants, you never know if they’re going to be angels or a complete nightmare.
How can you manage tenants properly to reduce conflicts and make sure you get your monthly cheques? Luckily, you don’t have to be a people person to manage tenants. There are a few simple tricks you can learn to build respectful relationships with tenants and prevent issues before they start.
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1. Have Your Rental Agreement Checked by a Lawyer
Many of the conflicts that arise between tenants and landlords can be resolved before they ever happen. That’s what rental agreements are for.
However, many agreements are filled with holes—and those holes are conflicts just waiting to happen. Shoddy agreements also send a message to your tenants that you don’t really care.
Get a lawyer to check your contracts or draw them up professionally. Serious agreements attract serious tenants. And less serious tenants will know that they need to shape up because you are going to enforce the rules.
Make sure to discuss the agreement with the tenant in person before signing. Tell them what you expect from them in terms of pets, parties, guests, rent payments, etc. Have them verbally confirm and then show them where those terms are located in the contract. This way, tenants won’t be able to play dumb and bend the rules.
2. Require Renter’s Insurance
When something goes wrong on a property, renters insurance is probably the most important failsafe for your relationship with tenants. Renter’s insurance covers theft, damage due to natural disasters, bodily harm due to accidents and other things out of your control.
Without these protections, tenants make themselves vulnerable to financial insecurity that will affect their ability to pay rent.
Just imagine if a tenant’s computer is stolen or damaged on the property. With renter’s insurance, they would be covered for the damages. Without it, they may enter into a period of economic hardship or decide to move out. Both are bad options for you.
Many tenants are reluctant to pay for renter’s insurance, but it is quite affordable. You could even offer a discount on the first 3 months’ rent for tenants who commit to a long-term lease and show proof of coverage.
3. Keep a Schedule—and Share it with Tenants
Your tenants are busy, and so are you. That’s why you need to coordinate your schedules for regular maintenance and inspections. You may also want to come by the flat now and again just to say hello and show your tenants that you care about their wellbeing (and the wellbeing of the property).
This will be a lot easier if you share your schedule with your tenants in advance. If your property is due for an inspection in late November, don’t wait until the last minute to schedule it. Call the contractor a couple of months in advance and get the inspection on the calendar. Then, tell your tenants as soon as possible. Send them reminders a few weeks before and a few days before. It may be inconvenient to them, but they will not be able to say you didn’t warn them.
It’s also important that your tenants know your working hours. They should understand when it’s appropriate to call you and when it isn’t. But make sure they know that you are available outside your regular hours in case of emergency.
4. Keep Your Properties Secure and Up to Code
Tenants consider the safety and security of your property to be extremely important, and they expect you to do what’s legally required to maintain a safe space. Failure to maintain safety standards can result in major conflicts and legal trouble.
It only takes one leaky sink or rusted latch for tenants to form a bad impression of you and your property. This may cause them to show less respect for the space. In a worst-case scenario, tenants can report you to local officials and seek a rent repayment order (RRO). This would force you to repay them up to 12 months’ rent.
But what if a tenant has stopped paying rent? Are you still obliged to spend money keeping up the property? Legally, yes. And if you don’t, you will likely never see those missing cheques.
Maintaining Good Tenant Relationships is Easier than You Think
The vast majority of tenants just want a home that’s safe and affordable. They don’t want to spend their time stressing about their landlord. So, maintaining good relationships really comes down to doing your job properly.
If a tenant doesn’t pay, cut your losses (before they accumulate) and find a replacement. As long as you continue to hold up your end of the agreement, you’ll find tenants who are happy to pay you in the long term.