“Managing tenants is easy,” said no one ever. Whatever type of property that you own, managing tenants is always a challenge. Tenants — especially terrible tenants — can be hard to deal with, especially for first-time landlords. However, tenant management isn’t something you can shy away from.
Fortunately, property management companies can help you develop a harmonious relationship with your tenants, effectively reducing the turnover rate. In this article, we’ve put together our top tips on tenant management so that you can handle any situation.
#1 Clearly Define Responsibilities in the Contract
Draft a clear contract. In case of disputes, you and your tenant won’t waste time pointing fingers at each other. A comprehensive lease contract protects you in case your tenant decides to file a claim against you in court.
A clearly defined contract should indicate the roles and responsibilities of yourself and your tenant. Enumerate the day-to-day tasks that your tenant is responsible for, such as mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, etc. Similarly, outline the tasks that you are obligated to do. The contract should also clearly state when rent payments are due.
If you don’t know what tasks should be defined in the contract, enlist the services of a real estate attorney.
#2 Address Concerns in a Timely Manner
Let’s say your tenant has been trying to reach you for weeks to report a broken refrigerator. If they’re met with unanswered emails, will they be likely to renew their lease? Probably not. Hence, you should strive to address your tenants’ concerns as soon as possible, as their satisfaction is at stake.
Remember, even though you don’t live there, you’re still responsible for repairs. While there are matters that your tenant can handle on their own (e.g. replacing light bulbs), most of it is on you. Besides, resolving the issue ensures that your real estate investment is safe. And as a property owner, that should be of prime importance to you.
If you can’t handle their concerns, you should consider hiring a property manager from a South Florida property management firm.
#3 Create a Clear Procedure for Rent Payments
Your tenants shouldn’t have to go through a ten-step process to pay their rent. Make it easy for your tenants by creating a clear procedure for rent payments. Let them know exactly when their rent is expected. Provide them with multiple payment methods so that tenants can choose the one that’s most convenient to them.
You can also take advantage of applications such as AppFolio to facilitate rent collection. However, you shouldn’t assume that all tenants can use it. Some tenants, especially seniors, may not be tech-savvy, so you should provide them with “traditional” modes of payment (e.g. cash and check), as well.
The benefit of using property management software is the ability to record rent payments. This way, you can easily access them when it’s time to file your taxes, or when you need to support your claim in court.
#4 Communicate Effectively
You should strive to establish a tenant-landlord relationship. While it isn’t necessary to be besties with them, your relationship shouldn’t be too rigid, either. You simply need to show that you care about your tenants. For example, ask them how they’re doing or check on them when you hear that they’ve been hospitalized. When your tenants feel comfortable with you, they’re likely to communicate their concerns more openly.
Effective communication, however, goes beyond being cordial. You should also communicate any changes to your tenant (e.g. HOA rules and regulations), and let them know in advance if you’re visiting the property.
Don’t forget to document all tenant-landlord communications as these can be useful in case your tenant takes you to court. Use a property management platform to send updates to your tenant (e.g. inspection notices). Don’t rely on phone calls as these don’t leave a paper trail.
#5 Provide Them Access to the Tenant Portal
Your tenant is likely relying on you to remind them about rent payments, lease renewals, and so on. Since this can be a time-consuming task, you should provide them with an alternative solution, instead. By providing your tenants access to the tenant portal, they can keep tabs on their own accounts. They can access their rent payment history, rental agreements, inspection reports, and so on.
Not only does this save time, but it also shows that you take transparency seriously. They can access their accounts whenever they want, and they can see that you’re actually taking accurate records of their payments.
#6 Create a Clear Procedure for Repair Requests
Don’t want your tenant to call you during the day to file a repair request? Teach them how to use the tenant portal so they can relay their requests through there. Your property management company will receive these requests and respond to them accordingly.
It’s important to record all repair requests and responses in case your tenant claims that you didn’t act upon them. For example, if your tenant sues you for failing to fix the heater, you can check their repair requests. Property management portals can log the time and date of their request and your property manager’s responses.
#7 Conduct Regular Inspections
Schedule regular inspections to see if everything is running smoothly. If possible, inspect the property at least three to four times a year. There may be issues that your tenant hasn’t spotted, so you’ll have to check it out yourself.
Since inspections can take a lot of time, you should consider hiring a property management company. If you’re a long-distance landlord, driving — or even flying — to your rental property can be costly. Even though you can write it off as a tax deduction, it’s still time-consuming. A property manager can take care of it for you.
Tenant management has gone beyond getting to know your tenants. In the 21st century, it involves providing them with cutting-edge solutions that make their life — and your life — a lot easier.
At Luxury Property Care, we use property management platforms to streamline our services. Through the AppFolio software, we can share important information that you and your tenants can access at any time.