One of the most important things to learn about being a landlord is that keeping your tenants happy will make your life easier. A happy tenant complains less and is more likely to renew their lease. Here are five ways to keep your tenants happy and renting your property.
1. Inform Tenants of All Rules and Regulations Up Front
Establishing what is expected of your tenants from the very beginning will help to avoid confusion and conflict in the future. When your tenants understand the rules before they move in, their tenancy will be smoother. As the landlord, the responsibility to provide clear documentation and explanation of all rules, regulations and procedures up front lies solely in your hands.
Ideally, you will want to include all the rules as part of your thorough and detailed lease. Any additional addendums should be included as part of a move in packet. You should make sure you have the tenant sign and date any addendum so you will have proper documentation verifying their agreement.
Between the lease and the move in package, every situation that you have encountered in the past or could possibly encounter in the future should be covered. For example, if you have had constant noise complaints in the past, you will want to draw up a Quiet Hours policy. You will want to include:
- What hours are considered Quiet Hours- For example: 10 P.M. to 8 A.M.
- What is considered excessive noise.
- What will happen to the tenant after the first offense, second offense and so on.
- The procedure tenants should follow when they have a complaint about another tenant.-Should they confront the other tenant as they may not be aware of the behavior, contact you immediately or call the police?
Other things to include in the move in package are:
- The times when you should be contacted- 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. on weekdays unless it is an emergency.
- Emergency plan and procedures- map of house/building, exit points, examples of emergencies.
- Emergency phone numbers- police, fire, poison control.
- The EPA’s Lead Paint Hazard Brochure.
- Trash, recycling and bulk garbage collection schedule.
- Phone numbers of local gas, cable and electric companies.
- List of what is considered damage to the apartment and the approximate cost to repair it - For example: If the tenant decides to paint the apartment and does not restore it to a neutral color when they leave, you will charge them a $200 per room fee for having to repaint the apartment.
2. Address Their (Legitimate) Complaints Quickly
Whether it be a noisy neighbor or a malfunctioning refrigerator, if your tenants feel they are a top priority, they will be happier. Certain situations must be remedied immediately, while others can have a little lag time. For example, a broken lock on the front door needs to be fixed immediately as it poses a safety hazard. However, you do not have to drop everything to repair a broken handle on a kitchen cabinet. It can wait a couple of days if necessary. You should aim to resolve any complaint within a week’s time.
In your move in packet you should specify how (phone, email) and when (what times and days of the week) tenants can contact you for non-emergencies (also define what is an emergency and non-emergency). This will help to keep your tenants from abusing the privilege and bothering you during non-business hours with minor issues.
3. Keep Up With Property Maintenance
If a tenant is proud of the property they live in, they are more likely to stay there longer. You will want to perform preventative maintenance to keep the property in top shape. This maintenance will help minimize a tenant’s frustration from having to deal with items malfunctioning or breaking.
You will also want to perform maintenance that will improve the aesthetic appeal of your property. Little touches such as flowers in the front yard or a freshly painted mailbox will help the property feel like home.
4. Offer a Grace Period When Collecting Rent
If the rent is due on the first, it is often in your best interest to offer a grace period. While being a landlord is a business, most businesses offer some leeway. If the rent is due on the first, allowing your tenant to pay up until the fifth without fear of a late penalty can be beneficial to you both.
While you should make it extremely clear that any payment made after the fifth is considered late and will be subject to a late fee (and the amount of that late fee), offering a grace period will let the tenant know that you expect prompt payment, but are not a tyrant. Your tenant could build up animosity toward you if you are too strict and might look for a landlord who is a little more lenient.
5. Offer Incentives
Little gestures can go a long way, especially when tenants have so many rentals to choose from. Upon move in, providing the tenant with a package of toilet paper or a box of light bulbs can increase goodwill. During the year, gestures such as sending a holiday card or raffling off a free ham for Christmas can also help create a favorable impression of you and your property for the tenant.
You can offer tenants a discount on their rent if they sign a two year lease. If a tenant renews their lease, you can offer them a free upgrade to their apartment, meaning you will give them a new kitchen backsplash or paint a room free of charge for them.