If you’re a landlord then you’ll almost certainly have experienced the uncertainty that comes with a new tenant.
Of course, if you’ve screened and vetted them as you should do, that should provide adequate peace of mind.
But there’s always a niggling feeling isn’t there?
Have I made the right decision? Will they pay their rent on time? Will they take care of my property?
These are all questions most landlords ask themselves at the beginning of a tenancy and it’s perfectly natural to do so.
But your focus as a landlord, once your tenant is in place, should be on keeping them happy and doing whatever you can to ensure your relationship with them is healthy rather than fraught with tension.
Of course, if you use a good managing agent, both to find and vet your tenants as well as manage your property through the tenancy, you can relax and simply let them take the strain.
But if you’re self-managing your property, there’s one key thing you have to get right if you’re to maintain a good relationship with your tenant: Communication.
How to communicate with your tenant (and what you need to say)
Actually, I’ll rewind a bit at this point.
The importance of communication is actually two-fold. If you’re communication isn’t clear and doesn’t establish boundaries and rules, then it’s wasted communication.
And the best way to establish all that is to start as you mean to go on by making a list of points abundantly clear to your tenant.
Yes, I know most of this is (or should be) in the tenancy agreement.
But that’s really the point. Clear communication reiterates these important points because, let’s face it, how many tenants can say, truthfully, that they’ve fully read and understood a tenancy agreement?
Pay your rent on time
Of course, this is a mainstay of any tenancy agreement and is certainly common sense as well.
But hearing it from the horse’s (landlord’s) mouth, just reiterates to the tenant that you’re serious about them sticking to their obligations during the tenancy.
You can (and should) also add at this stage that you take maintenance of the property extremely seriously and want them to be comfortable and safe during their stay.
Inform me right away about problems
Show your tenant that you’ll be on top of any issues by insisting they contact you (or your maintenance manager if you have one) straight away if there are any problems with your property.
Give them clear instructions on what to do if they need something fixed or in the case of an emergency.
Explain how everything works
You wouldn’t drive a new car off the forecourt without knowing how the indicators and window wipers worked.
And as rental properties, like new cars, are all different you shouldn’t simply expect your tenant to know how your property’s internal systems work, either.
Communicate clearly how to run the heating or hot water systems and be clear on use of things like alarms or external lights.
Being clear on functionality should help keep your tenant comfortable, as well as avoiding potentially costly issues like frozen pipes or boiler breakdowns.
We need to work together
Any relationship is about compromise and working together rather than against each other.
Explain to your tenant that you do have a life away from your rental property and while you take maintenance issues seriously and will sort them quickly and efficiently, minor problems may have to wait.
Equally, stress that you also understand your tenant has a life, too, but add that being flexible with allowing maintenance workers into the property is expected from them.
Respect the neighbours
Be clear on your tenant’s responsibilities to neighbouring properties.
As well as their responsibility towards your property, tenants can sometimes need reminding that they are representing you as well as themselves when it comes to their neighbours.
Stay in contact… but not too much
You should remember that while your rental property is just that, yours, under the terms of the tenancy your tenant has a right to quiet enjoyment of the property for themselves.
So, while keeping the lines of communication clear and transparent is crucial to fostering a good relationship with your tenant, you should never over-do things.
Imagine it like a meal in a restaurant with your partner.
It’s nice for the waiter or waitress to ask if everything is okay with your meal one or two times, but after times three and four it becomes a nuisance and effects the enjoyment of your meal.
Consider setting up a WhatsApp group between you and your tenant but be clear that it is for maintenance problems or urgent queries only.
If you prefer to be contacted by a phone call or by email, make sure your tenant knows this.
Communication with your tenant is key to a good relationship with them and will certainly help reduce the stress levels for you as a landlord.
But as with anything, it’s a balancing act and overdoing communication, on either side of the rental fence, can cause more harm than good.
Martin & Co Chelmsford’s full management service is designed with both landlord and tenant in mind and is a great way for you to ensure your rental property is well managed and your tenants are well looked after.
Chat to one of the team today who would be happy to explain more.