4 Steps Toward Good Landlord-Tenant Relationships

By Jennifer Riner of Zillow

building-438015_1280-PDNew landlord-tenant relationships can initially be awkward. As with any business relationship, it’s important to be aware of professional boundaries, yet act friendly and polite in day-to-day conversation.

To best connect with new tenants, consider the following four relationship-building tips.

1. Know Landlord Duties

Landlords are obliged to provide safe residences for their paying customers. Aside from upholding state and federal housing codes, property managers should make timely repairs to keep units functioning properly to relieve potential for property damages and keep tenants renting. Further, lessors must keep common areas in good condition, free of debris or other hazardous messes to avoid tenant injury or costly lawsuits. Facilities should remain in working order at all times. Finally, landlords must accommodate tenants’ special needs according to fair housing laws, such as installing wheelchair ramps or automatic handicapped doorways.

2. Understand Tenant Responsibilities

To develop strong working relationships, it’s important for landlords to put themselves in their tenants’ shoes. Landlords can avoid being taken advantage of by instilling the following rules for their residents. First, they must dispose of their garbage in the appropriate, marked bins. They can only park in designated areas as outlined by formal lease agreements. Should tenants decide to conduct any kind of home improvements to their rental units, they must notify landlords or property management companies, even if they assume responsibility for associated costs of upgrades that increase unit values. Pets must be documented, even if they are medically required. Finally, smoking should be limited to approved areas and can be cause for eviction in smoke-free residences.

3. Maintain Properties

Repair issues are normal, but hopefully infrequent, and should be addressed as soon as they arise. Tenants should contact their property managers via date-stamped messages. Polite tenants are more likely to receive sympathetic assistance from their landlords. Regardless, upstanding landlords fix maintenance problems in timely fashions without acting inconvenienced or annoyed. Sometimes, landlords need to hire contractors for more extensive repairs. Landlords should budget for maintenance-related fees prior to assuming responsibility of rental properties, as unexpected damages can occur. Create checklists to keep properties in safe order, including cleaning gutters, checking roofs and chimneys, inspecting stripping and siding, replacing air conditioning units and cleaning window screens. Regularly maintaining building interiors and exteriors is the best way to ensure tenant satisfaction.

4. Get to Know Tenants

Although primarily professional, tenants likely appreciate when their property managers go the extra step in building positive working relationships. For instance, consider sending birthday cards for each leaseholder, or hosting special resident events on various holidays throughout the year. Landlords who put energy toward tenant engagement and appreciation might benefit from positive online reviews, potentially increasing the number of interested applicants searching for rentals in the future. All events should be optional, since some residents prefer their privacy more than community engagement. Though not everyone participates, most appreciate the effort. Even a simple “hello” in the lobby each morning can help solidify positive lines of communication with tenants over time.

Developing friendly rapport with past, current and future tenants is a great way to promote extended leases, renter satisfaction and resident referrals. Investors attempting to increase rental incomes should implement all strategies possible to build or maintain new business relations.

What do you think of the landlord-tenant relationship?  Have you ever had a real great (or real bad) tenant or landlord?

2 Replies to “4 Steps Toward Good Landlord-Tenant Relationships”

  1. I have only had good tenants so far. My only complaint is when they don’t tell me about a problem until after its been going on for a while.

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