Building a good relationship with tenants is something that a landlord can start from the very beginning of the rental process. The foundation of a solid landlord-tenant relationship is trust and communication. Having an avenue in place for ongoing solid, positive communication that flows two ways fosters a positive relationship and helps avoid problems later on.
To begin, all tenant applicants should be required to complete an application, submit references, and submit to a credit and background check. In this way, the landlord can know if there are possible problems with past eviction, non-payment of rent, or other issues. Hiding a disclosure does no one any good, as the truth can be found out later, and be cause for eviction or legal action.
Just as you do not want tenants to withhold vital information, you also do not want to withhold important information from them. When showing a prospective tenant an apartment or house, be honest about the condition and potential or past issues. For example, if appliances are old, disclose the age to the tenant, and let them know what will happen if there are problems.
Be clear in your policies. This includes policies about pets, parking, noise, etc. Many tenants rent homes thinking that the written policy does not apply to them, as they see other tenants in violation as well. This isn’t a great way to manage your building. Make sure that policies are clear, and that tenants understand the consequences of not following them. Also, follow up when one tenant reports another.
In general, you want to set the tone of the communication as friendly and professional. Be cordial, and patient, even in difficult circumstances. Keep calm. However, you do have to be firm, and clear on what needs to be done.
You cannot just pop in on your tenants. Give adequate notice of entry for repairs and maintenance, or inspections if they are part of your written agreement. The only time you can enter a tenant’s home without notice is in an emergency situation.
Keep accurate records, such as rent paid, repairs, and maintenance calls. It is helpful to follow up any communication with an email to the tenant confirming what has been agreed upon. This allow for a paper trail and also a response. This builds trust with your tenants, as they can see your professionalism.
The responsibility for a positive landlord-tenant relationship begins with a landlord who listens attentively, responds in a reasonable and timely manner, and builds a solid line of communication with tenants. Be respectful and courteous, and most of the time you will be rewarded with respectful, courteous tenants who pay their rent on time and renew their leases.