A tenant is a landlord’s business partner, and they should be treated accordingly. This means they should be shown respect, but also held accountable. Essentially, they are watching over one of your most expensive assets – therefor it is imperative your relationship with them is tight, and both parties must understand their value and responsibilities. As a landlord, you set the tone… here is how to forge that critical relationship.
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Fix problems immediately: If something breaks in the rental property, it should be addressed within 24 hours. At the very least, an appointment should be scheduled for a tradesman to come to the property and fix the problem within a day. The moment you start slacking on fixes with your investment property is the moment your tenant loses respect for the property, which increases turnover. Not only that, if other things start to break and problems arise, your tenant may not tell you because they don’t think you’ll have it fixed anyway. This is exactly how really big (and expensive) problems arise – from neglect.
Never drop in unannounced: No one likes a hovering landlord. Naturally, as a landlord you are an authority figure to your tenant, which on its own can make tenants a little nervous. Dropping by unannounced insinuates that you don’t trust them. Give at least 24-hour notice before dropping by your rental property, and always provide a reason for the visit.
Always replace the locks for new tenants: First, this is the law in many cities. For safety, it needs to be done. Common courtesy. You’d want it for your family if you were renting.
Don’t get greedy with rent increases: First, if you have a great tenant, why would you raise the rent more than the necessary amount to cover rising costs? Great tenants are valuable, and losing them is not worth an extra $50 to $100 a month. Don’t be a cheapskate.
Show appreciation for your tenant by being reasonable with rent increases (and know the annual legal rent increase limit within your city).
At one of my rental properties I’ve had the same tenants for 6 years. They’re an amazing couple – best tenants I’ve ever had. And that’s exactly why I’ve only increased the rent 10% total in the 6 years they’ve lived there.
Don’t become friends with your tenants: Not a good idea. This is a business relationship first and foremost.
Provide three rules when tenants move in: Don’t give your tenants a laundry list of rules. Have three key fundamental ones that show you are serious, but not a rule baron. My three rules are simple: No drugs, respect the property and neighbours, and call me if you have a question/problem regarding the property. These should fit on a post-it note. All the specific rules of the property (no smoking, pets allowed or not, etc.) are in the tenant/lease agreement and don’t need to be reiterated. Plus, if you follow my guidelines on how to find a great tenant, you’re not going to have to worry about whether or not they’re solid people… they will be.
The landlord-tenant relationship is an interesting one. It is usually either really good or really bad. There are few in between. From my experience, showing that you really care about your rental property as a landlord is the most important step to take when building a healthy relationship with your tenant(s). If you value your investment property and put in the effort to make the tenant feel like it is their home, you’ve done your job and they will reciprocate.
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