When you invest in property and take on tenants, do you put them in the property and forget about them? Or do you lovingly tend to your tenants like you would a budding vegetable patch?
If you want an overflowing vegetable crop you need to put in the effort, and it goes for your tenants too. You can sometimes throw seeds in the ground and they will produce some fruit. But the gardens that are tended carefully – weeds pulled, fertilizer added, crops thinned produce larger and healthier vegetables.
Just like your tenants.
Throwing tenants into your property and leaving them without tending them is a dangerous move. You can’t weed out the bad if you don’t know what’s going on and you can’t grow their loyalty if you don’t look after them.
So what ‘fertiliser’ do you use on tenants? Respect.
Of course you need water tight paper work and a well maintained and well-appointed property. But that doesn’t grow your tenants, these get tenants into the property. What you want to do is grow your tenants into long-term tenants, and to do that you need to show them respect.
You need to act like someone who is worthy of respect: Do what you say you are going to do.
- If there is a problem and you say you are going to be around at 10am the following morning, then make sure you are there at 10am.
- Listen to what they have to say. If there is an issue which you think is not important, listen from their perspective. That noisy neighbor may not be keeping you up at night, but it’s aggravating to your tenants.
- Value their business – they are customers after all. Show appreciation from time to time. Property upgrades, Christmas cards, a renewing the lease ‘thank you’. It doesn’t have to be over the top, but the thought goes a long way.
- Say ‘thank you’. When you are undertaking your regular property inspections, say thank you for keeping the property in good shape. Tenants don’t hear this enough.
- On the other hand if they are not keeping the property in good shape – tell them, and tell them the consequences.
- Don’t bend on the rules. If rent is due on the 1st, and they haven’t paid by the 2nd, follow-up. Be open to an occasional glitch, (job change, family emergency etc), but don’t let tenants get away with not paying. You let them get away with it once and they know you are soft, and not worthy of respect.
- Know the rules. It is your job to know all the rules and regulations of being landlord and also what is expected of the tenant. If you don’t know, then find someone who does.
- When it comes to move out time don’t abuse the ‘normal wear and tear’ rule. You may not think it matters, but word spreads. You don’t want to develop the reputation of ripping off tenants. Tenants are very aware of this ‘grey area’ and have likely had landlords who have tried to squeeze more out of them by claiming ‘damage’. Don’t be that kind of landlord.
Be grateful for their business, but also show them that you MEAN business. This way your tenants are likely to want to stay for a while. Especially if the property is well maintained and continues to fit their needs.
What do you think? Do you agree that growing good tenants takes a little effort?