the vacant free

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Written by Chelsea Glaser
on June 14, 2019

As a property manager, having a great relationship with your tenants in a huge value-add. We’ve heard the horror stories of tenants who absolutely refuse to make your job easier— they’re not paying their rent on time, they have additional roommates who aren’t supposed to be there, or they leave a huge mess in their wake for you to deal with. However, Molly Landreth, an Assistant Property Manager with Maple Leaf Property Management, recalls the biggest challenge of them all:

“The most challenging tenants [are] the ones who don’t like to communicate with me. They take a lot more time. When you have to try to chase down tenants who don’t answer questions, don’t answer the door, don’t show up when a vendor does, it takes a lot of time that we just don’t have.”

Having a respectful and communicative relationship with your tenants simply makes things easier and more efficient. This means they’ll be responsive when you need to reach them, they’ll be courteous and helpful when things need to get done around the property, and they’ll be respectful of your time when it comes to cancellations or requests.

According to Molly, “being a great tenant is all about being a great communicator. The people I really enjoy working with are transparent, communicative, and straightforward about what they want. They may have some boundaries around vendors coming over, but they’re really clear in setting those and defining what they want in a home. Great tenants are open to communicating through things like billing, lease agreements, and other needs and important matters.”

Of course, communication is a two-way street— this doesn’t always happen all on it’s own. If you encounter a tenant with tendencies to be less communicative, disrespectful, or even rude, there are a few steps you can take to try to develop a great relationship with them.

  1. Be clear about your expectations up front. Creating clear norms and standards about what is appropriate tenant behavior, and why it is beneficial for everyone involved, can help minimize unpleasant surprises down the road. Furthermore, let them know what they can expect from you and communicate the care and effort you will bring to respecting their time and their space. You an also inform tenants up front of your process for dealing with things like in-home repairs or billing issues, so that they are not taken off-guard when you need to reach them or request something of them.
  2. Ask them what communication methods work best. Everybody’s different, and you may encounter tenants who have limitations on their ability to use technology, who have impairments to hearing or sight, or they’re just really particular. Asking up front the best way to get in touch with them is a simple way to minimize potential frustrations down the road.
  3. In that regard, be flexible. You may get some requests that are outside of your standard practices. While it may seem like a pain to have to download a new communication app or send a Facebook message or a physical letter in the mail, it may just prevent bigger headaches down the road—and make your tenants feel like you care— when you meet them where they’re at.
  4. Create simple, straightforward questionnaires. If a tenant is experiencing an issue, it can be difficult at times to get all the information and context you need from them to understand how to resolve it. Creating a list of questions that you can either ask them verbally or send for them to write written responses to can help you reach a shared understanding on the issue in a concise way. (The more yes-or-no questions you can ask, the better)! This can also be a good practice for periodic check-ins about the state of the property. If it’s a maintenance related issue, don’t forget to ask them for some dates they’re available to let someone in to make repairs!
  5. If communication is failing, try a new approach. It’s possible that the first communication methods you try may prove ineffective, but there are a lot of factors involved. Don’t forget that you’re approaching people on a very personal level— in their home! Aside from the tools you’re using to get in touch, try changing other factors like your tone of voice, the language you’re using, body language or facial expressions if you’re speaking in person, or the energy you’re bringing to the conversation. Remember, communication is a two-way street. Being self-aware and adjusting yourself to better connect with your tenant can go a really long way!

For more property management support, contact Showdigs!

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