Responsible landlords and property managers go to great lengths to identify warning flags that indicate potential problem tenants. But what about when the shoe is on the other foot? Here are 5 Landlord Don’ts that every tenant dreads – not to mention could be illegal!
When the cost of turning over a rental property for new tenants is high, retaining the good ones becomes even more important. Could you be driving away current tenants with one of these 5 landlord no-no’s?
1. Emotional Attachment To Your Property
OK, so it is perfectly fine (and normal) to be emotionally invested and attached to your property – but your tenant shouldn’t have to deal with it! While they live there, your tenants see it as their home. That’s a good thing for you as they are more likely to take care of your investment. However, if every communication from you says “my house,” you’re emphasizing that they are occupying your space. This can quickly make the tenant feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, potentially to the point of finding a new home they can call their own.
2. The Random Drop In
It is natural to want to know the condition of your property and assure yourself that your tenants are taking good care of it. For tenants though, the random landlord drop-in is a major turn off especially if it becomes a regular occurrence. In many states, there are laws that govern this situation and dictate that a certain amount of notice must be provided. From the beginning of your lease, establish a preferred method of contact and how much notice will be provided – then stick to it!
3. Slow Response On Maintenance and Repairs
One of the more challenging aspects of being a landlord is addressing needed repairs and maintenance. Here, communication is key. Your tenants are busy just like you, which means that being left waiting to hear what is going to happen about needed repairs and maintenance can be a major issue! If you don’t have a local property manager available to respond to tenant requests, keep your communication prompt and plentiful. Let your tenant know when you plan to take the next step and when they can expect to hear from you– and then do it! If there is a delay, let them know as soon as possible. Keeping good tenants happy saves you time and money!
4. The “Unofficial” Property Manager
If you are not local to your property, having a local contact person is a wonderful idea for both your renters and you. There are many advantages to having a property manager to address repairs and keep an eye on the home. Your tenants will appreciate having a designated person (or property management company) to deal with. Avoid having a friend, relative or neighbor function as an “unofficial” property manager. Without a set agreement, your tenant won’t know exactly what role that person plays and it can lead to confusion.
In one AHRN.com user’s experience, the unofficial property manager can cost you money as well!
Towards the end of our lease, we contacted the individual our landlord had specified as the local contact about some repairs that the home needed. The contact assured us that they were communicating with the property owner and would let us know when the repairs would be addressed. Time went by without a response and an email to the property owner only generated more confusion. It took weeks to clear everything up (the owners were in Germany so the time delay made communication slow). Unsure of whether our concerns would be addressed or not, we opted to move at the end of our lease instead of extending for an additional two years as we had originally planned. It was just too close to worry about! — Kevin S. US Army
5. Take Time Off
Life happens. Family falls ill, vacations come around, and sometimes we just need to unplug for a while. But when you are a landlord, you have a responsibility to your tenant to ensure that they have an Option B to contact for those moments when you won’t be available. Since those moments can sneak up and happen when you least expect it, that just-in-case contact needs to be set up and explained to your tenant from the very beginning of their lease… not when your cruise comes into port and you discover 24 emails about the roof damage that needs to be addressed TODAY.
Be A Do, Not a Don’t!
So what can you do to avoid these landlord fails?
- Treat your rental property like a business and conduct business with your tenants like a professional.
- Establish reasonable expectations from the beginning about how and when you will check on your property.
- Be ready and able to promptly address any maintenance or repair needs your property presents with during the lease.
- Establish a professional, responsible local contact and back up contact in case something happens and you are unable to address it immediately.
Important Note: MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR STATE LANDLORD / TENANT LAWS INSIDE AND OUT
We want to know:
What steps have you taken to prepare for the unexpected as a landlord?