One of the most important parts about renting your property is to get good tenants in place. Tenants who pay their rent on time and take care of a home are the key to any landlord’s future financial success. Once you find good tenants, your focus needs to shift to keeping them — and the income they bring in.
Communicate Early and Often
When you need to come by the property to fix something or check out a problem, give them more than the advanced notice required by law. If the rent will increase at the next renewal, don’t wait until the last minute to tell them. Keep the lines of communication open for the big things, like lease negotiations, and the small things. Your tenants will feel respected and informed.
Keep Your Promises
After you assure them that you’ll install new flooring or fix the dishwasher, make sure you get it done as soon as you can. If you’ve promised upgrades, new paints, new fixtures, or even a price break on the rent in exchange for work done, honor your promise. You’ll earn your tenant’s trust and give them a good reason to stay put when the next lease renewal comes around.
Listen to Tenants’ Complaints
Between noisy neighbors, pests in the kitchen, and a light switch that never works, there are plenty of things that a tenant may notice and be bothered by. When they call, listen respectfully, make a note of their concerns, and empathize with them. Make them feel heard, and remember, whatever you tell them you’ll do about the problems, make sure to keep your promises.
Have a tenant that has never been late in two or three years but because of a broken down vehicle or death in the family, paid rent a day late? You have to use your discretion on this, but waiving a late fee builds plenty of good will. Feel free to tell them you’ll only do it this once or to create a policy for all your tenants that you’ll waive the fee once a year (for tenants who routinely pay on time, of course). Everyone has a rough day and mistakes happen. Treat your best tenants with understanding, and they’ll stay your best tenants.
Maintain the Property
If certain maintenance tasks are your responsibility, make sure you take care of them. Don’t wait for a major leak in the roof to replace it, especially if you know exactly what shape the roof is in. Don’t let the air conditioner go out on the hottest day of the year before you take care of it. Regular HVAC, lawn, roof, and other maintenance not only keeps your good tenants happy, it helps maintain your home’s value.
Upgrade When It Makes Sense
When the refrigerator finally dies, don’t replace it with the cheapest thing you can find at the home improvement store. If the air conditioner needs replacing, don’t get the smallest one by the worst manufacturer. Upgrading appliances and other parts of your rental property for maximum energy efficiency and better quality manufacturers does a few things:
- Makes your tenants happy to know they have something nice and reliable.
- Saves you on future repair costs.
- Justifies modest rent increases.
Allow Your Tenants to Make Some Changes to the Property
Of course you should approve any changes first and ask questions to make sure you understand what a tenant wants to do. But be glad you have tenants who care enough about the property to want to make it a home and improve it. Feel free to approve paint colors that you know you can paint over later, if necessary, or any changes that raise the value of the rental. Ask to see the plans, know who’s doing the work, or any other details to feel comfortable with the project before giving your approval.
Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to find and retain good tenants for your rental properties. You have less to worry about and, usually, fewer expenses. Over time, they’ll make a home for themselves, and may be willing to pay a higher rent for a nicer house and a landlord who is understanding and easy to work with.