Contrary to the many negative news stories we’ve all read about ‘slumlords’ and ‘nightmare tenants,’ most landlords and tenants in fact develop strong relationships that typically last several years. There is no silver bullet for building a sustainable partnership with your tenant, but there are simple things that a landlord has to do well. Here are five of the most important.
1. Start as you mean to go on
The key to a successful long-term partnership with your tenant is to begin it strongly. Crucially, this means quickly carrying out any initial improvements that were promised to the incoming tenant. Some landlords , perhaps as many as one third, go a little further and prepare welcome packs for new tenants. These contain local information or small gifts of food and drink.
Gestures like these are not just acts of kindness. Business psychologists have long known that reciprocity is a powerful motivator, hence all the free pens you’ve received from charities. Concrete evidence exists that helpful gestures from landlords considerably lengthen the average length of tenancies.
2. Avoid sudden rent hikes
According to a recent survey commissioned by MakeItCheaper, as many as 35% of tenants say they would move to a different property in the event of a rent increase. Whether that truly reflects real-world behaviour is hard to know. What is clear is that rent increases - particularly if they are sudden or arbitrary - can create resentment and damage the long-term landlord-tenant relationship. Consider tying any rent increase to property improvements and, if you must increase a tenant’s rent, try to give more than the statutory notice period .
3. From ‘landlord & tenant’ to ‘provider & customer’
Several industry commentators have argued that the rather feudal-sounding terms, ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant,’ be replaced with something more fitting for the 21st century. Thinking of your tenant as a customer will help you to reorient the way you approach your role. Tenants spend a considerable proportion of their income on rent (in London the average is almost 60%) and will expect to receive a reasonable standard of service in return. What are your customer’s ‘pain points’? How can you outperform the competition? Those are the kinds of questions you should be asking.
4. Keep up the good work
All too many tenants believe that their responsibility to a property begins on the day they move out, when they carry out a frantic clean-up in the hope of securing the return of their deposit. Conversely, landlords are often tempted to believe their commitment to a property ends on the day the tenancy agreement has been signed. To discourage the tenant from falling into the former habit, it helps if the landlord avoids the latter.
5. Be polite and efficient - and not just to your tenant
If you pay for a fully managed service , you might be tempted to think of your property manager as a kind of buffer between yourself and the tenant. However, try not to make the mistake of thinking that how you deal with the property manager won’t find its way to the tenant. Letting agents, operating ‘on the front line’ as it were, have to explain to tenants why promised improvements or repairs haven’t been made. If you’re making their jobs difficult, it is likely they will pass this onto the tenant - either deliberately or inadvertently. Consider your relationships with your tenants (as well as your wider reputation) in everything you do, even when you are not directly in contact with them.
By taking these five points into account, you will increase your odds of developing a profitable partnership with your tenant. If you own several properties, you will also add to their attractiveness by nurturing good tenant relationships and ultimately enhancing your reputation as an excellent landlord.
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