Most landlords have been tenants at one time or another. If you’ve never rented, maybe you’ve experienced life from the perspective of a tenant when you travel. Remembering what it feels like to be a renter is important in helping you provide the best service to your tenants as their landlord.
The key to keeping tenants happy is to put yourself in their shoes. Think about what would make you happy as a tenant. Doing this is not about being nice; it is good business sense. Putting yourself in your tenant's shoes means you’re putting your rental ahead of the competition. You will build your reputation as the local landlord that all tenants want. In this article, we examine the most common complaints from tenants and how you can resolve them.
Landlords who are never within reach.
Landlords who don’t answer the phone, return calls or reply to emails is top on the list of tenant complaints. All landlords are very communicative when looking for a new tenant. If you suddenly become difficult to reach after the tenant moves in, they will likely get frustrated at this. Your tenant may interpret this to mean that you only care about the money. It is discourteous and makes tenants feel insignificant.
That being said, you may not intentionally miss your tenant's attempts to contact you. Maybe their call came at a time when you were busy. Whatever the reason, you should establish rules for how and when you should be contacted by your tenant when you sign the lease agreement. You should also give your tenant an alternative in case there is an emergency and you are not responding immediately.
Indifference to maintenance requests.
Regardless of the cause or cost of damage, it is never a good idea to ignore a tenant's request for repairs. In the long run, this will cost you. Attending to maintenance requests promptly makes tenants happier and will save you money. Even when the requested repair is not your responsibility, it is still wise to respond. By paying attention to the issue and explaining why you cannot fix it, you keep the door open to future tenant requests, even if you cannot solve them all.
To ensure you can attend to the tenant's repair requests in a professional manner, you need to establish a maintenance system. You should have clear guidelines on how tenants should raise repair requests. You should ensure that requests are not left unattended longer than twenty-four hours. Guidelines give tenants confidence in the process; it is professional and shows that you do care.
Uncertainty about the refund of the security deposit.
You should accept the security deposit with the intent to give it back to your tenant in full. The deposit serves as a check against irresponsible behavior. The hope of getting their money back is the tenant's incentive for being responsible. When a tenant feels they will not get their money back, they have no reason to keep your property in good shape. This may result in excessive damages to your property that you will have to repair.
To reassure tenants that they will get all or part of their security deposit back, you need to be transparent about it. You should take a complete survey of the state of the property before tenant move-in, accompanied with photographs, and have the tenant sign it to ensure you’re in agreement.
You should do another survey of the property’s condition after the tenant moves out. When it comes to returning the security deposit, you can use these two records to compare the state of your property and determine if you need to deduct from the deposit. Then you can forward this to the tenant so that they’re clear on the deduction process.
Invasion of privacy.
If you live in the same property as your tenant, they may feel like they are constantly under watch. This feeling is exacerbated if you have the tendency to interfere with the tenant’s lives. Even if you have the right to protect your investment, you cannot do this in violation of the tenant's privacy rights.
You should take the time to draw up a comprehensive behavior code of behavior for you and your tenants. You should schedule any inspections or cleanings well in advance so that you can give occupants no less than 24-hours notice. This ensures that they do not feel that you are violating their privacy and personal space.
Failing to solve neighbor disturbances.
Other occupants of a building or neighbors in nearby properties can cause problems for your tenants. Neighbor disturbances can include loud parties, animal sounds, noisy quarrels, or cigarette smoke seeping into your property. If a neighbor causing the problem also your tenant, the problem is usually easier to solve. But if you have no legally-binding connection with the neighbor, there is not much that you can do.
To alleviate your tenant’s frustration, you can reduce outside noise by soundproofing your property, installing carpets, and planting additional noise-blocking shrubbery outside. In the case of cigarette smoke, you can block gaps to the outside between switches and other crevices. You can also report this to the homeowners association in the area if talking with the neighbor does not help solve the issue.
Persistent pest infestations and issues.
Pest infestations are probably the worst complaint on this list. With other issues, tenants may still feel safe living in an apartment. When dealing with pests and rodents, however, some renters only feel if they vacate your property.
Don’t delay acting on this problem, even if you blame the tenant’s unsanitary conditions for it. Have an exterminator treat the property periodically. Also, make sure the lease agreement specifies the tenant's responsibility to maintain a minimum level of cleanliness.
In summary, you can solve most tenant concerns fairly easily so that they don’t develop into major issues. You must maintain basic rules to ensure that you keep a good relationship with your tenants. These include courtesy, attentiveness, responsiveness, and constancy. These will prevent small issues from degenerating into big problems that will result in lawsuits or the tenant leaving the property.