We all want them, but amazing tenants are hard to find.
I believe that high-quality tenants are just as much nurtured as they are born that way. I think that almost any competent landlord can turn “mediocre” tenants into “incredible” ones.
The secret ingredient is… R-E-S-P-E-C-T. A tenant must respect you.
Yes, a rock solid lease is crucial for enforcing rules and legalities, but I think it also produces fear and bitterness if not laced with friendliness and compassion.
Be Worthy of Respect
I come from a background in Youth Ministry. I was a youth leader for middle school kids for over 8 years. If there’s one lesson I learned from them, it’s that you first have to earn the right to be heard. Translation: Respect.
The same goes for your relationship with your tenants. If they don’t respect you, they might choose a vacation in Vegas over paying rent. Or, they might even resent you for expecting the rent to be on time – in which case, they might retaliate by damaging your property. I believe it is critical that you initiate a strong, healthy, professional relationship with your tenants, founded on respect.
In order to build a foundation mutual respect, your tenants should know a few things:
- You are the Landlord (hear your roar) and have authority over the property.
- You are a professional and don’t make quick-witted emotionally laden decisions.
- You make repairs quickly and don’t charge them for normal wear-and-tear. Tenants typically don’t care if you fix it yourself or hire out, as long as it gets done.
- You know more about Landlord-Tenant rules than they do (make sure that’s true!).
- You will evict, and sue, them if they don’t pay rent or break the lease.
- Lastly, you are a human being and NOT a slumlord. You care about their overall satisfaction with the service/product you are providing and about the condition of the property.
From Their Perspective
Tenants, like all customers, need to feel valued… and you should do so. Don’t miss this… YOU SHOULD VALUE THEM!
After all, they are helping to pay your mortgage and for that 2nd home on Capri (well, eventually). In my experience when I have shown some (even just a little) appreciation to my tenants, they have responded by renewing their lease, paying rent on time, keeping the house clean, and have even bought me presents. Yes, I have tenants that send me gifts.
The basic principle is that you need to establish yourself early on (at lease signing), and let them know that you are the “real deal”. As nicely as you can, communicate the message that you will bring the hammer down if they cross you, but that if they fulfill their lease obligations (mainly paying rent on-time, every month), you will be their biggest advocate (future referrals, minor lease leniencies).
Take the Lead
I like to think that people are a lot like sheep. In new situations, we like to be told what to do – or at least coached down the path of greatest success and least resistance. Tenants generally want to get along with their landlords, and look to them for ways make it happen. Don’t expect them to “just know” how to be an excellent tenant. Tap into your compassionate side and give them some guidance – laying out the path in front of them. There is a rental house on every corner, and they will move on to greener pastures if you place unreasonable expectations on them.
If you can give them genuine respect, general guidance, an excellent product (the property), and great customer service (your actions), they will reciprocate – making your rental property less stressful and more profitable for you.