Renter Advice

Communication: The Key to a Thriving Landlord-Tenant Relationship

33 views January 3, 2023 January 5, 2023 Nikki Messer 0

A healthy landlord-tenant relationship is vital. Traveling through the world of rent, we at RentPost have acquired a deep understanding of the renters market from many different perspectives, including investment, interpersonal, professional, and even the historical aspect (thanks to The Witt!) Through our plight, we have uncovered a commonality affecting all perspectives – communication.

Communication marks the fine line that divides rent’s interpersonal and professional interaction. The manner in which it exists (or doesn’t!) truly impacts tenant-landlord dealings from the ground up. No matter how it’s sliced, communication is the word, so… let’s talk!

We will start by listing the most frequent complaints from tenants and proceed by elaborating on how effective proper communication can ease all associated tension within tenant relationships.

landlord-tenant relationship

Landlord-Tenant Relationship: Common Tenant Complaints

Landlord-tenant disputes usually arise when something goes wrong with the following:

  1. Work orders
  2. Privacy
  3. Lack of assistance with inquiries
  4. Rudeness from landlord
  5. Nearby tenants
  6. Deposit reimbursement
Work Orders

Starting from the top, it’s easy to understand how an unanswered work order could displease a tenant. And it is typically a result of an unorganized landlord or manager. Continuously react to the work order, even simply saying, “we have received the request.” In this manner, the tenant is not left lingering in a frustrating state of limbo.

Another idea is to leave a list of approved service contacts (plumber, electrician, etc.), so the tenant may handle the situation personally (while deducting the cost from the rent and sending you the invoice).

Privacy

In terms of privacy, non-communication regarding when a person will be entering a renter’s dwelling is a common source of hostility. A landlord MUST have confirmation that a tenant has been notified 24 hours ahead of time – voicemail does not count. Here’s a technique: most email accounts allow for “read receipts” that inform you when the recipient of the email has opened the message – a more than the adequate form of confirmation, especially considering the dates and times opened are recorded. Send e-mails!

Lack of assistance with inquiries

As the issue of privacy begins the drift from professional to personal interaction, the quality of the interpersonal landlord-tenant relationship is highlighted when focusing on tenant inquiries that are not part of the landlord’s contracted duties.

For example, John Tenant has an unusually high water bill and is concerned about a potential problem. John asks the property management team, but they provide him with no answers or direction simply because it is outside their realm of responsibility. He feels blown off—at the very least, the management team could provide the phone number to a utility inspector and follow up with the results.

In this fashion, the tenant will feel appreciated and satisfied, engendering a sense of community and belonging. John is now more likely to respect his management team, as the team has shown mutual respect.

tenant disputes

Rudeness from landlord

Tenants break fewer rules, seeking to improve the quality of the community when they bear reverence for the landlords/managers. Landlords never need to flex muscles of superiority over tenants; this is always rude and will always disintegrate healthy relationships – be amicable!

Nearby tenants

On a similar note, generating a sense of respect between tenants will ease the tension and disputes, as occupants will consider their neighbors before turning up the volume or throwing garbage for all to see.

A way to facilitate friendly interaction between tenants is to offer community gatherings for all to savor and interact. Moreover, such an act earns “brownie points” for the landlord. It is always harder to disregard a person without a face, paint the picture for tenants, and observe the benefits.

Deposit reimbursement

Lastly, remember that outgoing tenants are fantastic sources of referral; avoid leaving a bitter taste in their mouths by handling proceedings with security deposits in a simple, equitable, itemized way. DO NOT overcharge frivolously for necessary adjustments to the recently vacated apartment.

If you don’t mind, I speak from a personal account; I was once charged $15 for a water bottle left in the refrigerator. Though the instance was years ago, it is my most lasting memory of impact regarding the apartment complex (whose name will remain unspoken).

landlord-tenant relationship move out

Landlord-Tenant Relationship: Common Landlord Complaints

Over the years of working with landlords and tenants while working on the RentPost property management software, here are the most common issues landlords face:

  1. Non or late payment of rent
  2. Poor property maintenance (Interior and Exterior)
  3. Lack of responsiveness from the tenant
  4. Excessive noise
  5. Illegal tenant activity

Firstly, I would like to note to ye landlords that approaching any of the above issues with undue abrasiveness may lead to an extension and exacerbation of the problem. So I expect the provided advice will be used with appropriate conduct. Some solutions are preventative in nature, and the rest flow when preemptive warfare is ineffective.

Non or Late Payment of Rent

Preventative Approach: Check credit reports! If the score is terrible, find out why; if the report notes that the prospect is currently behind on multiple payments, it is likely that they will frequent the realm of rent tardiness. Some companies look for the first and last month’s rent plus security deposit, but this will not assist anything as it further cripples the tenant’s bank account unnecessarily.

With poor credit renters, you must have a reference to a past landlord, double checking the effectiveness of rent payment, as credit alone is not an end-all regarding the judgment of one’s ability to pay. Added lenience on roommate renters is suggested, as all roommates may be held accountable for the entirety of the rent.

Finally, a lease co-signer might be necessary, as the tenant will have added urgency to prevent corruption of her credit score and that of a close one. This is all standard practice and should be of no surprise, but be wary that when a tenant is expected to be continuously delinquent, there is little chance for a healthy landlord-tenant relationship, as tension is an inevitable side effect.

If a robust and long-lasting community is a desired goal, avoid potential late and non-payers (if you have the luxury to do so). Finally, the RentPost technique is to provide reminders of upcoming and late rent through any avenue of contact (text message, e-mail, etc.). Beta testers of RentPost Software get the unique opportunity firsthand as to how the system works.

landlord-tenant relationship pay rent

After the Fact Solutions: So, you’re facing a tenant who is tardy and has already endured late fees. Instead of seeking late payment by force and threats, summon the tenant politely, notifying them of the problem and asking if there is anything that can be done to assist them.

With tact, one may avoid any undue social displeasure and actually work to the contrary, further promoting a sense of community. Knowing why a tenant is late goes a long way: Money shortage? Laziness? Mistake? – all causes are to be handled differently, and without knowing the particular cause of your tenant’s tardiness, you will not be able to address it adequately.

Taking notes of causation each time a tenant is late provides a tenant track record and a window of observation into tenant livelihood. Eviction may be counterproductive, as this increases the likelihood that back payments will never be collected. Instead, try setting up a payment plan or settling on some negotiated amount, guaranteeing at least some portion of the rent.

However, if other tenants are eager to replace tenants, removing problematic tenants may be most suitable. Regardless, flexibility in dealing with tenant issues will always be considered and appreciated.

Poor Maintenance

Preventative Approach: Proper screening helps here, but tenants (or guests) make mistakes, leaving garbage or any unsightly objects outside for all to see. Post the rules, and hold community gatherings for all to mingle. In this way, tenants will become more considerate of the community – it is much easier to disrespect a faceless person rather than one met by a handshake.

Interior maintenance is solved in many different ways, depending on the clientele. Return partial amounts of the security deposit upon approved inspection. For example: if the tenant agrees, check the unit halfway through the lease, and return half the security deposit if everything is satisfactory, creating an incentive to maintain a quality living space.

security deposit tips

After the Fact: Again, approaching these matters with delicacy is vital to avoid alienation or patronizing vibes. Notifying the tenants that keeping the trash outside the public eye would be greatly appreciated, offering alternative suggestions on how to deal with the trash or object(s). Again, provide assistance in the matter. Remember that the tenants indirectly employ you – without them, there is no cash flow. You work for them!

A proper means of communication is necessary for a healthy landlord-tenant relationship, as many tenants avoid landlord calls. Online software can again alleviate such concerns as it will leave a notification on tenant profiles while giving you (the landlord) notice that the tenant has opened the message. This documents correspondence and generates a more in-depth tenant profile in case such a profile is ever necessary for the future.

Lastly, a connected community is a healthy community – another perk of management software is that tenants within the same community can connect with one another, letting people know of furniture for sale or future gatherings – just another way to humanize the surroundings. It’s a good sign when tenants wave upon passing one another!

Lack of Tenant Responsiveness

Above, we briefly touched on the matter. Using many avenues of correspondence, software that engages both landlord and tenant will, at the very least, provide reassurance that the message has been received. Next, lead by example; if the landlord seldom responds punctually, the tenant should expect similar conduct.

Poor communication may be the pill of disaster in terms of the landlord-tenant relationship. Do not start the trend of a “no talk” policy. Proper organization is crucial, and if such an organization is too complicated or expensive, turn to capable, inexpensive software to handle the tedious nature of tenant requests.

disputes between tenants

Excessive Noise

Proper screening can provide insight as to which tenants will tend to be noisy, but do not reject said tenants simply for these issues. Instead, proceed with caution: place the new tenant where noise will be less of an issue (a secluded area or next to other potentially noisy tenants).

Do not put a group of recent college graduates next to a long-standing family to avoid the tension! Also, make the rules clear upon entry to the community, and politely correspond with noisy tenants. Such tenants are much more likely to respond positively to a landlord who approaches such situations with care as opposed to abrasiveness. Community gatherings again may facilitate the respect necessary to promote a healthy and more harmonious landlord-tenant relationship.

Illegal Tenant Activity

Preventative: Simple background checks should handle this one. It is also wise to build a relationship with the community police force for two reasons: (1)They will occasionally patrol the area, and (2) If you know the officer, he is less likely going to overstep his boundaries when looking for suspicious activity.

After the Fact: If you become privy to illegal tenant activity, it is typically a good idea to remove the tenant immediately. However, approach the tenant, and give the lawless person an opportunity to explain his/her side of the story.

Some situations may not warrant tenant removal, so do not approach the situation bureaucratically. However, proceed with caution and skepticism. Don’t just throw tenants out for minor legal troubles; make sure the criminal masterminds are not operating out of a unit in your complex.

Put Everything in Writing

It’s vital that you provide tenants with your expectations before they even sign a lease. Providing further information in the lease packet and in policy guides can also be very helpful. This is a great way to inform your tenants and reduce the risk of future problems. You can use several documents to aid in this, and the cornerstone will be an explicit, direct rental agreement.

The more detail you provide in your rental agreement, the better. From the nature of the property to co-signer agreements, if these things are in place prior to signing, there is no ambiguity and no room for mistakes.

Though you’re not going to be able to put down every little detail in your applications and rental agreements, you can give a much bigger picture. Often, people just assume that what is common knowledge to us is common knowledge to all when it usually isn’t. You should never just assume that someone is going to know what to do.

You can do a few other things to help inform tenants and develop a much more positive relationship. You can create a monthly newsletter to send to tenants to keep them updated on developments in the community. A tenant manual is also an excellent idea, as you can’t get many details into a lease contract due to space constraints. Consider putting together a manual that can help further illustrate things. You can offer troubleshooting tips for common issues and procedures for all sorts of situations to help solve problems before they escalate.

landlord-tenant relationship

Our Takeaway

To reiterate, RentPost’s vision is to improve the world of rent, and in many situations, the problem areas are interpersonal relationships held between tenants and landlords/managers. Though a number of different issues arise in the midst of rental agreements, a majority result from or are exacerbated by poor communication. Beyond that, a number can be solved with proper communication.

One theme remains through all these issues, respect in proper communication will be the cure-all for your tenant troubles. Do not handle tenant issues unknowingly by setting the bar at abrasiveness. Handle with care, and watch the community flourish – remember it all starts with YOU, the landlord!

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