The recipe for successful letting is getting good tenants and keeping them. One of the main ingredients for this retention is a good tenant/landlord relationship. Good tenant/landlord relations can take the stress out of letting and positively impact the arrangement for both parties. A good tenant/landlord relationship can ensure that buy-to-lets have high occupancy rates, are well maintained and deliver a return on investment. Establishing and maintaining good tenant/landlord relationships doesn’t happen automatically and requires management. However, by investing in tenant relations landlords can enjoy and reap the benefits of an effective letting partnership.
What tenants what?
As more people are renting, and renting for longer periods, expectations have grown on the quality of the rental sector. Renting is increasing viewed as as a service industry. As such, tenants as clients, are looking for better value and customer service for their money. However, a round up of the most research reveals there is plenty of scope for improvement in customer service from landlords. According to the Property Academy, nearly half of tenants feel they do not receive value for money in their rental agreement. In a recent report Savills state that a quarter of tenants move before the end of their lease due to poor customer service and property management. In this study tenants claim landlords are often hard to reach, evasive and unresponsive to requests. In other words they do little to foster a good tenant/landlord relationship. So want can landlords do to change this view and maintain good working relationships with their tenants? According to research by Knight Frank, be easy to reach, responsive to queries, straight forward and honest, transparent in all dealings, invest in the maintenance and upkeep of the property, be friendly and professional at all times. At LegalforLandlords we work with landlords who provide great customer service to their tenants on a daily basis. However, it’s always good to think of additional ways in which landlords can positively enhance relations with their tenants. Here are a few suggestions.
The first step in good tenant/landlord relationship is open two-way communication. Good communication involves landlords listening to the expectations and needs of tenants and seeking to meet them. Open communication also means landlords clearly articulating their expectations of the tenancy from the outset. Capturing these expectations and requirements is always preferable in a written tenancy agreement so that both parties understand their obligations. Good communication provides for clearly managed expectations from both sides, which avoids confusion and conflicts later. Open communication also allows for proactive property management through efficient and effective response to repairs and queries. Good communication involves keeping tenants updated on what is going on in the area and how it may impact them. This can also work in reverse with tenants keeping landlords updated on matters they may not be aware of. Open communication enables landlords to keep on top of issues before they escalate into major problems. Good communication always involves landlords being professional, business-friendly and polite even during challenging situations.
Being true to your word
Proactive and prompt management of repairs and maintenance go far to ensure a good tenant/landlord relationship. Tenants expect landlords to be easy to reach, no matter what time of day, often within a same day response. As security and safety are a concern for tenants landlords should only use reputable and reliable contractors to deal with property maintenance. Good record keeping of property maintenance demonstrates a landlord’s professionalism, which engenders trust in the relationship. Being responsive to complaints and keeping tenants updated on progress when dealing with issues shows landlords are also true to their word. According to a survey by Savills tenants rate the cleanliness and quality of accommodation now as highly as rental price. Nearly a half of tenants in their survey moved in search of better quality property. Clean communal areas and carrying out a professional clean prior to any new let demonstrates a landlord’s commitment to the maintenance and upkeep of the property.
Respect the boundaries
Respect the privacy of tenants is also important in fostering a good tenant/landlord relationship. Checking in regularly is great customer service, however, it needs to be done in a non-intrusive way. According to the Knight Frank’s survey, tenants prefer to deal with landlords for routine matters by email but by phone in an emergency. It is a good idea to consult with tenants on their preferred communication method as older tenants may prefer more face-to-face interaction. Needless to say adequate notice should always be given before a visit to a property even for requested repairs. Soliciting the most convenient time from the tenant’s perspective goes a bit further to demonstrate a landlord’s consideration to their needs.
Reward the good ones
Showing tenants they are valued customers can do a lot for retention. Often landlords look to offering incentives to attract new tenants and neglect offering an incentive to retain existing ones. Offering a free month’s rent on renewal or a yearly professional clean free of charge can show good tenants how their custom is appreciated.
Landlords should treat tenants as they would expect to be treated themselves if the situation was reversed. In this era of rising expectations from the rental sector, investing in good tenant/landlords relationships can build mutual trust in the letting partnership, which ultimately pays dividends to all. If you are a landlord and need advice on letting give us a call. We can advise on tenant referencing, tenancy agreements and insurance which all help to create a good working tenant/landlord relationship. Give us a call on 0333 577 9050, or our try us on our free advice line 0800 840 7133.