Remember, treating people well isn’t just for Thanksgiving.
For most landlords –it’s easy to focus on the tenants that went wrong. Experiences with destroyed carpet, and unpaid rent tend to stick in our minds a lot better than the tenants who pay their rent on time, and without incident.
But the fact is, though, that for every bad tenant out there –there’s another one who is worth their weight in gold –and it’s worth taking the time to recognize and acknowledge them. After all, you wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for your tenants, so it’s worth showing them some appreciation.
Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, now is a great time for us to focus on the things we’re thankful for. In the rental property management business, this includes your trusty renters. We all know it’s easy to take tenants for granted, but this time of year reminds us that it’s worth shifting our attention onto the positive aspects of being a landlord –namely, first-class tenants –the ones who pay their rent on time, and treat the rental with respect.
Fortunately, showing gratitude to your tenants isn’t difficult –or time consuming. It doesn’t have to be costly either. Oftentimes, it’s the simple things that mean the most –saying “Thank You,” to tenants for paying the rent, and showing them common courtesy and respect doesn’t cost anything. Yet this approach can go a long way toward helping to build goodwill between you and your renter. And as we all know, a happy tenant makes your job as a landlord, a lot easier as well.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to show these unsung heroes that you’re thankful for them this year.
1. Be Responsive
Few things impress a tenant more than responsiveness. When a renter calls or emails with a problem, professional landlords will always strive to respond as soon as possible. Quick responses will help to alleviate your tenant’s concerns, and will show them you care. Never brush them off, or tell them they’ll have to wait until an unknown date in the future. Taking their concerns seriously –and addressing issues in a timely manner is extremely valuable to tenants, and can go a long way toward helping them to feel appreciated. On a similar note, if you’re going to be out of town, or otherwise unable to respond to their messages for a few days, make sure you give them a heads up. Then provide them with the contact numbers of contractors they can call in case of an emergency.
2. Be Realistic When Raising the Rent
While rent increases are a fact of life –and a necessary part of landlord management, it’s important to exercise discretion before you send out those notices. While the amount of notice that you’re required to give your tenants varies from state to state, if you’re on a month-to-month tenancy agreement, you generally have to provide 30 days’ notice about rent increases. But hiking the rates right around the holidays is guaranteed to rub most people the wrong way. Instead of raising the rent around Christmas –a time when most people tend to be strapped for cash, consider holding off until after the New Year –where it’s far more likely to be better received.
3. Reward Them With Rental Work
A gift for which you and your tenant can both be grateful, is cleaning services, or other work that can improve the condition of the rental. Consider helping your tenants look after your rental property –their home, by offering them a free carpet cleaning service, or fresh coat of paint for a few of the rooms. This gesture is a great way to say thanks –and will help them feel welcome, and more at home. As a bonus, this also shows them you care about the condition of the rental –which in turn, will motivate them to look after it better themselves.
4. Consider a Small Token of Thanks
A small token of thanks –especially around the holidays, can go a long way toward showing tenants you care. You could give them a gift basket, gift cards to the local coffee shop, or a tasty gourmet treat. Or, you could surprise them with a discount off of next month’s rent –something that’s certain to be well received!
5. Respect Their Privacy
One of the best ways you can show your gratitude to your tenants is by respecting their privacy. This means giving them ample notice before showing up at the rental –unless it’s an emergency, of course. Providing adequate notice when you need access to the rental isn’t just polite –it’s also required by law in most areas. You can go the extra mile though, and make a point to work around the tenant’s schedule, whenever possible. If repairs or maintenance are needed, consider connecting with your renters to see what times are convenient for them. If the repair isn’t urgent, this is a great way to show your renters some extra consideration.
6. Consider an Upgrade
This doesn’t mean you have to renovate the entire house in order to express your gratitude. When you go the extra mile and upgrade appliances that are old and tired, or make small upgrades can mean a lot to tenants. It shows them that you enjoy having them in your rental. Most tenants will appreciate these updates –especially if you perform them just before the holidays, or after the New Year. In most cases, you’ll want to avoid performing major renovations around Christmas –a time when everyone’s home, and most households are extremely busy.
7. Keep Your Promises
From a tenant’s perspective, few things are worse than a landlord who promises one thing, and delivers something very different. For this reason, it’s important to ensure you never promise something you may not follow through with. You’ll also want to avoid sending out the wrong impressions. Never hint at a new outdoor porch, for instance, or mention your plans to install wood flooring throughout, unless you’re certain you will do it. Implying that you have positive things in store for your rental will give your tenants false hope, and set them up for disappointment. Instead, commit to only making promises you will be able to keep. In most cases, you’ll want to under promise, and over deliver. Your tenants will be most grateful.
8. Be Thoughtful
Thoughtfulness is something many landlords struggle with, but a little bit of kindness is a great way to show tenants you care. Consider reaching out from time to time to touch base with your tenants, and see how things are going at the rental. You may also want to consider sending out cards around the holidays or on birthdays. You can use a company like Send Out Cards to automate the process and ensure you don’t forget. Connecting with your tenants has an added benefit as well –it will give them a chance to fill you in on any minor issues at the rental; allowing you to take action before small problems become bigger.
9. Be Fair
Show your tenants you appreciate them by treating them fairly, and avoid anything that could be considered favoritism. This is especially key in multi-unit properties where word travels quickly. Enforce and uphold the terms of the lease, and avoid letting one occupant slide on the rent –when you expect the others to consistently pay on time. Doing so could cause accusations of favoritism. In property management, treating tenants equally, at all times, is important, and will help your tenants to respect, and appreciate you.
10. Establish a Good Relationship From the Start
Finally, all of the rewards and tokens of thanks will mean very little to people you have a frosty relationship with. The best way to show your tenants you appreciate them isn’t just by giving them gift cards once a year at Thanksgiving. Instead, it’s about treating them right year round. Establish a good relationship from the start by being polite and professional, and informing them they should contact you any time they have issues and concerns. If you don’t enjoy fielding phone calls, consider enlisting a property manager to handle all of the tenant issues for you promptly and professionally. This will save you from the hassle of being on-call around the clock, and provide your tenants with excellent service.
Treating your tenants well isn’t just a nice gesture, it’s one that will reward you and your property investing endeavors as well. When tenants feel they are respected and appreciated, it will encourage them to renew their lease on your rental home property and stay a bit longer –helping you to reduce your vacancy rates.
Remember, treating people well isn’t just for Thanksgiving but rather it should be a year-round endeavor, and something you practice with every interaction you have. It’s a tall order but one that’s worth striving for.
This article was originally posted on Renters Warehouse November 2016.