Happy tenants make landlords happy because happy tenants are less likely to cause property damage or pay rent late. It is beneficial for the landlord to develop and maintain a good relationship with tenants. It does take some work and won’t happen if you forget about your tenants after moving in. Neither will the tenant be happy if you try to micro-manage the property, constantly checking on the tenants instead of letting them live their lives.
The key areas to consider to build strong relationships between landlords and tenants are below.
Attend to maintenance issues promptly
The quicker a landlord responds to maintenance issues, the more tenants will trust and appreciate the landlord. A slow response to an issue shows the tenants that the landlord doesn’t care about them or how the issue impacts their daily lives. A leaking tap might seem insignificant to a landlord who is not living on the property but can cause significant problems for the tenants who need to live with the constant dripping.
Suppose a landlord shows that they have responded quickly to the issue and communicates with the tenant about the progress, letting the tenants know when the tradesperson will be able to fix the problem. In that case, tenants feel like the landlord has done their best to resolve the situation quickly, even if it is a few days before the tradesperson can attend to the property.
Keep the tenant informed of progress in resolving essential issues to reduce stress levels. Problems that impact a tenant’s daily life, such as broken water heaters, stoves, or air conditioners, blocked drains, and storm damage, must be attended to quickly. After all, the landlord is not one dealing with taking cold showers when the water heater breaks, but the tenant needs it fixed as soon as possible.
Landlords who follow up with a phone call a few days after the repairs build trust. Delaying repairs will not only damage the relationship between the tenant and the landlord but could leave the landlord facing a legal liability claim if a tenant or their guest is injured as a result of the delay.
Undertake regular inspections
Regularly inspecting the property reassures the landlord that the tenant is properly caring for the property. Regular inspections can do more to build the relationship than reassure the landlord or fulfil legal requirements of property inspections as part of the rental agreement.
Providing a regular inspection provides an opportunity for your tenant to point out maintenance issues that are occurring. Some minor problems are not worth calling about immediately, but the tenant will mention them when the property is being inspected.
Showing the tenant that the landlord is interested in the condition of their property, regular inspections help to reinforce the conditions of tenancy. They can help to build a strong relationship between tenants and landlords.
Maintain positive relationships with tenants
Positive relationships between tenants and landlords encourage tenants to cooperate with the landlord. Consider carefully any requests for changes to the lease conditions, such as allowing a new pet, and ensure you respond quickly to queries or concerns your tenant raises. If you need to reject a requested change to a lease condition, take the time to explain fully in writing. Sometimes, tenants make requests that are not legal to comply within that rental property, but explaining that situation to the tenant means they don’t blame the landlord for not listening to them.
When your property needs routine maintenance, it is best to work with the tenant to determine the best time for the work. For example, a tenant may prefer work to be done on a particular day, when their work arrangements can be more flexible, allowing them to be home when the tradesperson arrives.
Consider the tenant’s needs
Selling a rental property can be particularly stressful for the tenant, so make your tenant’s lease a priority if you need to sell. The tenant may be stressed and unsettled if they have to move when the property is sold, and the uncertainty at this time adds to it. Always give your tenant as much notice as possible that the property is going on the market.
If people inspect the property or the selling agent holds open days, work with the tenant to select the best times for them and give as much notice as possible.
Check your rental agreement before you raise the rent. Landlords can be allowed to raise the rent of their properties periodically as it may be required to meet the rising costs of property ownership. While no tenant will want to pay more rent, giving the tenant as much notice as possible about the rent rise can assist the tenant and help maintain a good relationship.
Providing tenants timely information about the rental increase, including the increase accords with your rental agreement and other laws, will help. Do not wait until the lease expires to let your tenants know that the rent will increase with the subsequent lease. If a tenant has an advance warning and understands the reason behind the increase, they will be more likely to stay at your property.
Accidents do happen, and even careful tenants can damage a property. Try not to be unreasonable if an accident does occur. Tailored landlord insurance can help cover the costs if damage occurs. Insurance can protect against both malicious damage and accidental damage by the tenant. Always remember that a good relationship with the tenant can significantly reduce the chance of malicious damage to the property.
Five things that can damage a landlord-tenant relationship
The relationship between tenants and landlords can quickly turn negative, especially when both sides neglect their duties and obligations. If you cannot resolve a problem in a timely manner, you may find yourself in a costly court dispute. These are the things to avoid to prevent damaging the landlord/tenant relationship.
Excellent communication between parties builds the relationship, but bad communication does the opposite. Communication is two-way: both parties need to listen and respond appropriately for good communication to occur. If one party only communicates in angry phone calls or messages or by ignoring requests for communication, the relationship will quickly break down. Bad communication prevents the tenant from getting items fixed or maintained and can prevent the landlord from receiving overdue rent.
Politeness costs nothing, and there are always two sides to a story, so listen and respond in a polite manner, even if you do not agree with the other party’s position.
Lack of mutual respect
Mutual respect is the key to any relationship. Tenants have a responsibility to treat the property with respect by taking care of it, cleaning it, and informing the landlord when things get broken. Tenants who do not do this or mistreat the property will be likely to lose the bond at the lease end or will be evicted early.
However, a landlord also needs to respect the tenant’s rights by giving adequate notice when conducting inspections. A tenant can legally refuse entry to a landlord who arrives without notice.
Tenants who ‘cry wolf’ by constantly complaining about every tiny issue will soon be ignored, and a landlord may be slower to respond to a bigger issue as they are unsure how urgent the situation is. Tenants should call a landlord when an item needs to be repaired or replaced. A respectful landlord will organise repairs in a timely manner. Avoiding repairs is not only damaging to your relationship with your tenant but breaks the duty of care as per the tenancy agreement.
Tenants are human, and we all make mistakes sometimes. If a tenant breaks something accidentally, has a gathering that is too loud, or misses a single rent payment, you can give them time and a chance to resolve the issue.
However, do not be too soft either. Some tenants will push boundaries and see what they can get away with. If you let things slide, you could lose money.
Calmly but firmly remind them of their responsibilities as tenants and how a series of missed rent payments or being a nuisance to neighbours can get
Not keeping promises
Trust is essential in the relationship. If you say you’re going to do something, then keep your promise, whether you are a landlord or a tenant. If something prevents you from keeping your promise, communication is the key to maintaining trust. Create another solution or if things will take longer to resolve, but you are working on it, communicate what is happening.
Dealing with Bad Tenants
A nightmare tenant refuses to pay rent owed, turns an immaculate property into a dump, or trashes the place before leaving. While not every tenant will be this terrible, it is important to mitigate your risks as a landlord.
Bad tenants may not create as many problems as those mentioned above, but they can still cause hassles for landlords.
Common problems caused by bad tenants
Common issues with bad tenants include:
- Failing to pay the rent. Even missing the occasional rent payment can be significant for a landlord who is paying off a mortgage and still has to make those payments even if rent is not paid. Really bad tenants will systematically miss or skip rent payments and will often be late in making payments.
- Causing damage. Repair bills can cost thousands, so tenants who cause damage are a problem for landlords.
- Conducting criminal activity. Tenants who conduct criminal activities such as storing or selling stolen property, creating drugs or any other illegal activity on your property can cause many problems for landlords.
Some tenants cause hassles for their landlords by constantly complaining, even if the complaint is not about something you can legally address as a landlord. From unreasonable demands for upgrades to the rental property or complaints about noisy neighbours, dealing with continuously complaining tenants is stressful and time-consuming.
Dealing with difficult tenants
If you have a difficult tenant, there are things you can do to resolve the situation early and prevent higher losses.
- Assess the situation. Each time a tenant leaves a lease early, or you evict them, it costs money in tenant turnover costs. Consider whether there is an option that keeps both parties happy before agreeing to end a lease early.
- Take the emotion out of the equation. Property investment is a business. Avoid making emotional decisions. Try to step back and discuss things calmly, as you would for any business decision or disagreement.
- Communicate. Communicating well with your tenants and building a good relationship will save you much stress. Many issues can be resolved by talking to a tenant, listing to them, and showing you are willing to resolve the issue.
- Know when to be firm and when to compromise. Having a good relationship with your tenant can help you to know when to compromise. If a previously reliable tenant suddenly is struggling to pay rent due to redundancy, it could be better to give them time to get their finances in order before considering eviction.
- Use the rental agreement to support your arguments. The tenancy agreement has all the information and clauses on tenant responsibilities. It sets out what to do when a disagreement arises and provides information about what each party must do.
What you can do
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Before becoming a landlord by purchasing an investment property, you should know your rights and responsibilities. Check the relevant Residential Tenancies Act in your state or territory for information on:
- How to notify a tenant who has breached the rental agreement,
- the time allowed for a tenant to fix the breach; and
- how to terminate the tenancy if a breach is not fixed.
Researching and understanding your rights and your tenants’ rights can help you to resolve potential issues in the tenancy agreement.
Getting the right agreement
To ensure you are covered, your tenancy agreement should include:
- The rental amount and when it needs to be paid
- The tenants’ responsibility: informing you of any maintenance issues and to paying for any damage caused
- Number of tenants allowed to live on the property.
Issuing a breach notice
Laws in each state or territory provide guidelines on how to issue a breach notice, including how long the tenants have to resolve the problem. Issue a breach notice immediately if a tenant breaches the agreement. This helps to cover you in legal terms if you later choose to evict the tenants if the issue is not resolved.
Issuing a notice of termination
Check your state’s legislation on the process and notice that you must provide when issuing a termination of lease notice (or eviction notice). In NSW, tenants have 14 days to vacate, but in Western Australia, the minimum notice is one week.
What to do if your tenant refuses to leave
If you have issued a termination notice, and the legislated time has elapsed, but your tenant has not vacated the property, you’ll need to take legal steps. You will need to obtain an order to vacate from the relevant residential tribunal. Your tenants will be given a specific timeframe to vacate the premises, and if they still do not vacate, you can call law enforcement to forcibly remove the tenants.
Make sure you have landlord’s insurance.
Landlord’s insurance helps to cover costs from unpaid rent. It is important to have insurance that covers the full extent of your property to protect your building and contents against fire, storm, damage, and unpaid rent.
How to find the right tenants
- Find a good property manager. Especially if you are new to being a landlord, employing a good and experienced property manager can help you to vet tenant applications.
- Think about who you want to attract. When looking at buying an investment property, consider the demographic who is likely to rent that property in the area. You will attract better tenants with a property that is immaculately presented.
- Use a database. Tenancy databases collate lists
of bad tenants. Checking a database, such as the National Tenancy Database, can help you to avoid tenants who have previously left properties damaged, with unpaid rent, or who have breached the tenancy agreement.
- Screen tenants. Potential tenants provide references, and you can check these thoroughly. You can even get a credit check to ensure the potential tenant can pay the rent. If you are unsure of a tenant, it is better to choose a different tenant.
- Stay in regular contact. Regular communication with tenants can help you to address problems or issues as they arise and will help you to develop a good relationship with your tenants.
- Conduct regular inspections. Seeing the property in person or sending your property manager to inspect the property regularly can help you to identify issues before they become major problems. A regular inspection helps you to check maintenance needs, and you can see how the tenants are caring for the property.
Finally, remember that the majority of tenants are reliable and will take care of the property. Screening the tenants will help you to choose the right tenants for your property, and working on building a strong, respectful relationship with your tenants can help you to resolve any issues