Nosy Neighbors, Gladys Kravitz, Passive Snoops, Prying Pete, Busybodies.
We know them all too well. They are the neighbors who are always watching from behind the mini-blinds.
As a resident, I despise them. As a landlord, I love them dearly!
Ironically, they seem to reciprocate my affection despite the fact that I cycle through unknown tenants year after year. I think they view me as their guardian from the tenants rather than the evil landlord who is the source of tenants.
This is partly because at the start of every tenancy, I tell the neighbors:
“If you have a concern about my tenants or my property, call me anytime, day or night. I’m here for you.”
Why it Works:
I don’t live in the same neighborhood as most of my rental properties and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep an eye on them.
By giving my neighbors permission to call me anytime, I am leveraging their natural sense of curiosity. They feel like they have an ally and advocate for their own personal safety and quiet enjoyment – of which I do genuinely care about.
That sense of trust, freedom, and flattery is usually enough to calm their anxiety about my new tenants, and therefore they usually don’t abuse my invitation.
The really nosy neighbors seem to absolutely adore that I have extended this invitation. It’s as if I’m allowing them to indulge in a 7-layer chocolate cake. To each his own, I suppose.
- Source of information.
It allows me to have a “man on the ground,” providing me with invaluable intel into the behavior of my tenants.
- Builds rapport.
It builds rapport and good will with the neighbors, who will be around for a long time – tenant, after tenant, after tenant.
- Conflict mitigation.
It avoids conflict between neighbors and tenants. Neighbors call me before writing a nasty note.
- Police avoidance.
If there is a disturbance, the neighbors tend to call me first (sometimes to blow off steam), rather than the police.
- Tenants learn to behave.
The tenants eventually figure out that I am in communication with the neighbors, and thus they might refrain from unfavorable activities.
- It might be annoying.
The neighbors might call too much… maybe.
- Tenants might be upset.
I provide blinds on all my windows. If my tenants have an issue with the neighbor, I encourage them to talk to the neighbor.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “I don’t want my neighbors calling me at 2am!” Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It doesn’t happen. Ever.
In my 8 years of giving my neighbors an open invitation to call, I’ve only had one call after 8:30pm – and that was because my tenants left the gas stove on and the fire department showed up. Who called me? My neighbors – NOT my tenants.
Honestly, if there was ever something really crazy happening at my rentals, I want to know about it – no matter what time it is.
I’ve learned that it’s much harder to get rid of a bad neighbor than it is a bad tenant. (tweetable?)
I believe that having an open line of communication with the neighbors is the greatest single way to monitor the activity at my rental properties.
The truth is that I’m willing to put up with a few annoying phone calls to discuss small issues, in order to get informed about the bigger disturbances when it really does matter.
The good tenants don’t have anything to hide, and the bad tenants usually move on within a year anyway.
My best option is always to win over my rental neighbors and invite them to be a part of my rental business.
To learn more about influencing your neighborhood, check out: How to Build Equity by Investing in Your Neighborhood.