by Albert Fontenot
January 14, 2015
Like any other business, being a landlord is all about relationships. Sure, you became a landlord because you thought it was an easy way to make money (go ahead and laugh), but what you found out is that to be profitable at all, you have to nurture the various relationships that develop – with your contractors, your suppliers, your property manager, and of course, your tenants.
The relationship with your tenants is by far the most important. If you are a very "hands-on" landlord who likes to do-it-yourself, you may not use contractors, you may not have a property manager, and your supplier maybe the local hardware store. But your tenants – they determine EVERYTHING.
The great news is that renters can be educated into becoming the sort of tenants that can make your life so much easier. Here are the "Top 10 Things Landlords Wish Tenants Knew". Feel free to print these out and hand them out whenever you accept a new tenant. You're welcome.
TO ALL TENANTS:
1. Follow the Rules
When you signed your lease and move then, I explained my rules to you, and you agreed to abide by them. It's that simple. If you choose not to follow these rules, it becomes more difficult for both sides. If you find my rules unacceptable or feel that you cannot follow them, perhaps this isn't the right rental home for you.
The rules are there for a reason. If you take a moment to think about it, you would realize that they protect everyone – ME, as your landlord, your NEIGHBORS, and YOU, as the renter.
2. Treat Your Neighbors with Respect
Think about the actions of everyone in your household affect the people around you. You have neighbors, and if you are excessively loud, allow your children to run around unsupervised, don't control your pets, or in any other way act without consideration as to how your behavior might inconvenience your neighbors, then you create unnecessary problems and drama.
After all, would you like it if your neighbors through a loud late-night party before you had to get up early for work the next day? Would you like it if their pets damaged your belongings? Obviously not, so take responsibility for your actions and the actions of people in your home.
3. Take Care of My Property
Damaging any part of this property – the building itself, the fixtures, the appliances, the yard – is one of the quickest ways to create a bad relationship between the two of us.
As your landlord, it is my responsibility to provide you with a pleasant home in which to live, and I take that responsibility very seriously. As the renter, it is your responsibility to refrain intentionally or irresponsibly causing damage. I need you to take that responsibility equally seriously.
Also, this may be my property, but for as long as you live here, this is your home. Have some pride and treat it with respect.
4. Communicate With Me
I try to keep on top of everything, but I can't be everywhere all at once, and I can't fix problems that I don't know about. If there is something that you need for that I should know about, simply tell me. If something is broken, if there are problems in the area, or if there are any issues that arise, let me know. The sooner I am made aware of any problems or repairs that need to be made, the faster I can take care of them.
5. Leave a Voicemail
I am unable to answer your call, leave me a message. I will get it, and I will respond, as soon as I'm able. I am not in the habit of ignoring calls from my tenants. There is no need to call me, hang up, only to call me right back, again and again. If it is important enough to call me, then it is important enough to leave a message.
6. Let's Work Together
I want to resolve your issue as fast as possible. If you are flexible when it comes to time, I will try to respect your schedule, but my priority is to fix whatever is wrong. Sometimes, that means you allowing access earlier than you would like, or maybe letting us in on your day off. Other times, it might mean putting up your dog for a while so there are no issues. If you can work with me just a little, I will disturb you as little as possible and have your problem corrected just as fast as I can.
7. Respect My Time, Also
I will ALWAYS get you your issue as fast as I can, but sometimes other tenants also have problems that just might need to take priority. On those occasions, please understand that I am not ignoring you or putting you off, but some repairs are more critical than others and can be delayed.
For example, if it's wintertime and one of my properties is without heat, that trumps your squeaky closet door. I will still fix your problem, right after I take care of the more pressing repairs that just can't wait.
8. Courtesy Matters…a LOT
I genuinely care when you have an issue or repair that you need resolved. If you will treat me with respect and by staying calm and polite, that will go a very long way to creating a positive relationship between the two of us. Leaving me angry messages or cussing me out will not move things along any faster.
In the same way, there is no need to be rude or obnoxious to me or any workers when we come over to begin repairs. If it seems like you've been waiting, we apologize, but we always respond as quickly as possible. Once we are actually there, it's counterproductive to waste time unleashing your anger upon us.
9. Trust and the Truth Matter… a Lot
When I or one of my contracted repair persons arrive to fix your issue and need access to the home, let us in. We are not there to steal from you or somehow try to rip you off. We are there to perform regular maintenance or perform repairs.
Be honest with me about the problem. For example, if your toilet is stopped up because one of your children flushed a Barbie, tell me. This will save me from wasting valuable time and money unnecessarily trying to figure out the issue. If I know what really happened, I can resolve the problem much faster.
10. Pay Your Rent on Time
This would seem like a no-brainer, but there are tenants who will always pay all of their other obligations before they take care of their rent. As a landlord, I find this unbelievable. The quickest way to sour our relationship and get onto my bad side is to constantly pay your rent late.
As your landlord, I have to pay the mortgage on time. I have to either hire outside contractors and repairman or try to take care of any problems myself whenever you have repair issues. I'm not allowed to come up with half-hearted reasons why I can't pay my bills on time, and neither are you.
Obviously, some issues may be more important to you than others, so feel free to tweak this Top 10. But if your tenants know exactly what you expect in order to create a positive relationship, most will try their best to live up to those expectations – if you're conducting yourself well as a landlord.
Therein lies the caveat – you cannot expect good renters if you are bad landlord.
This means putting down in writing your rules and expectations during the signing of the lease, and it also means periodically updating those rules and expectations. It means being honest and diligent when it comes to repairs. It means treating your renters with the respect that you yourself expect.
However, if you take the time to live up to your duties and responsibilities as a landlord, you will be able to create an atmosphere where your tenants can live up to their responsibilities, as well.