If you’re a good landlord, you’ll bring out the best in your tenants. Tenants will feel more appreciated and will be more likely to keep paying their rent on time and renewing their leases if they feel you’re holding up your end of the bargain as a landlord. Here’s what you need to do.
Fix Things in a Timely Fashion
The most important thing you can do for your tenants is keep the rental unit in tip-top shape. Your tenants pay a lot of money to live in a space that’s comfortable, modern, and well-maintained. When things break, get them fixed right away – that very day if it’s an emergency, or at a convenient time for the renter if it’s not. If you have multiple properties and have trouble keeping track of what needs to be repaired where, property management accounting software can help.
At the very least, you should keep the unit in the same condition that it was when the tenants moved in, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make renovations when necessary.
Usually, landlords make needed upgrades to the property between tenants, but if you have a long-term tenant, work with them to make sure your property is still getting the upgrades it needs to stay competitive, and give that tenant the comfort they deserve.
Know the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Your State
Before you start renting out any properties, it behooves you to know what your rights and responsibilities are under your state’s landlord-tenant laws. You need to know what your tenants’ rights are, unless you want to spend a lot of time in court. You also need to know what your own rights are vis-a-vis evicting tenants, disposing of abandoned property, inspecting the property and setting security deposits.
Give Your Tenants Their Space
Many states actually require landlords to give tenants 24 to 48 hours notice before they can enter the rental property for an inspection in a non-emergency situation. This is to safeguard the tenant’s privacy.
Your tenant has a right to enjoy their home in privacy, and they’ll appreciate a landlord that respects that privacy. So, even if you’re not required to give your tenants notice before entering the unit, you should do it just to be courteous.
Be Easy to Get in Touch With
You don’t want tenants feeling like they have to jump through all kinds of hoops to request a repair or ask a question. Nor do you want tenants calling you at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night on your personal cell phone (although maybe you do, if it’s an emergency).
Have a business card with your business number, as well an email address where tenants can send after-hours communication. You’ll keep the lines of communication open, and it’s much easier to monitor an email inbox on your off hours than it is to field a stream of calls from tenants.
Tailor Your Lease
You can download a free rental lease for your state online, but you shouldn’t stick with the boilerplate contract. You should customize your lease to meet your needs and those of your tenants. If you have multiple properties, you may need a different lease for each one, because what each property requires from a tenant will be different.
For example, maybe you’re concerned one of your properties isn’t structurally sound enough to hold something really heavy, like a large library or a pool table, so you add a clause to your lease banning those from the property. You can add in details like who is responsible for lawn maintenance and on what schedule, or whether pets are allowed and what type or size. You can dictate how long overnight guests are allowed to stay, and govern other aspects of your tenant’s behavior, as long as you don’t violate his or her rights under your state’s landlord-tenant law.
Treat Your Tenants Like People, Not Piggy Banks
It’s too easy for some landlords to get caught up in the profit-making part of owning rental property and forget that they’re making those profits from the sweat of someone else’s brow – and that things could go wrong in that person’s life that could temporarily jeopardize returns on your investment.
You need to be less concerned about getting your rent on time every month and more concerned about the well-being of the tenants paying it. That doesn’t mean you need to lower the rent or security deposit or give them any kind of break under normal circumstances.
But if an otherwise good tenant loses their job, experiences illness or death in the family, gets into an accident, or has some other bad luck that means they can’t pay their full rent, try to cut them some slack. They’ll remember that you helped out and they’ll be more loyal to you because of it.
Being a better landlord can help you build stronger relationships with tenants and could even make your rental property business more profitable. Make the effort to do better by your tenants, and they’ll go the extra mile to do better by you.