As a landlord, it’s easy to focus on the tenants that go wrong.
It’s only natural. For some reason, bad experiences -like destroyed carpet or unpaid rent, tend to stand out in our minds a lot more than good ones. So it makes sense that we’d dwell on the problem tenants, rather than the ones that quietly go about their lives, faithfully paying the rent on time each month.
Thankfully, the truth is that problem tenants are the exception -not the norm. For every bad tenant out there, there are a dozen more who are worth their weight in gold. You wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for your tenants, so it’s worth taking some time to show them some appreciation -especially during the festive season!
Fortunately, showing gratitude to your tenants doesn’t have to be difficult -or time-consuming. It doesn’t have to be costly either. Often, it’s the simple things that mean the most. Saying “Thank you,” to tenants for paying the rent, along with other gestures of gratitude doesn’t cost anything, but 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.
You’ve probably gotten the lecture about the importance of sending thank-you notes when you get a gift from someone. Now think about your tenants as the gift-givers. Yes, tenants can sometimes cause headaches. But they also provide steady income, and when you find the right tenant, you want to do everything you can to keep them. Finding the right duplex build is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.
A thank–you note is an easy way to create a sense of goodwill that will make your tenants more likely to be responsive, respectful and loyal. Here are some tips on how to quickly craft notes that will go straight to your tenants’ hearts.
It’s Not Just Your Mother. Science Suggests Thank-you Notes Matter.
The New York Times reported on research that aimed to figure out why so few of us write thank-you notes. The upshot: Would-be writers think their notes will come off as insincere and may even make the recipients feel uncomfortable. The scientists found the opposite is true: People like to get thank-you notes; they appreciate the warmth of the effort and don’t care much about the quality of the writing.
What Should Your Tenant Thank-you Note Say?
First, remember you’re writing a note, not a letter, meaning it should take you five minutes or less from start to finish. The marketing software firm Hubspot says a great customer thank-you note has six basic parts, including the greeting and the close. The most important part: Include a specific detail on what you appreciate. For a tenant, that could be keeping the front yard clean, or calling you for a fix-it job before a situation turns into a disaster.
When Should You Send A Thank-you Note To A Tenant?
We’re trained to send thank-you notes promptly. But a Wharton business school professor makes the case that waiting weeks or months may be best for people who make your life better in informal or non-specific ways, people such as mentors, colleagues and tenants, who make your investment their home.
Still, Stumped For Words?
The Advice Columnist Has A “How To Write Letters” Booklet You Can Order Via Snail Mail. It Was Written For People Who Don’t Write Thank-you Notes Because They Don’t Know What To Say Or Are Afraid They’ll Write Something Wrong. Sample Letters You Can Customize Are Included. And Dear Abby Says A Thank-you Note Sent Via Email Is Just Fine.
To achieve this type of relationship and reduce many of the issues and hassles associated with real estate investment.
Tips For Keeping Your Tenants Happy.
Establish a good relationship from the start.
A clear rental/lease agreement supports a trouble-free landlord/tenant relationship. In addition to outlining monthly rent and utilities, your agreement should explain all rules, regulations and procedures you require tenants to follow, as well as what they can expect from you. Effective, clear and timely communication is the bedrock of a good landlord/tenant relationship.
Have a comprehensive move-in package.
This should specify how and when tenants can contact you (or your property manager) for non-emergencies. It may be helpful to include key numbers for local emergency services or shops, especially if your tenants aren’t familiar with the area.
Answer the phone.
Once you’ve provided contact information and hours, be available. It’s important to take your tenants’ phone calls or return messages within 12 to 24 hours. If you use professional property management, be clear that you expect them to be available and responsive to your tenants.
Be professional, not personal.
In your direct interactions with tenants, it’s very important to treat them as you would like to be treated. Be polite. Listen to what they have to say. Your property is their home. Use a business attitude – remember customer service is an important part of the landlord role. Your tenants should be treated with respect; don’t gossip about other tenants.
Respect your tenants’ privacy.
Be sure to give proper notice before accessing the property for any reason other than an emergency. Try to establish one or two routine times per year for preventive maintenance inspections and the like, and include your requirement for such access in your agreement.
Rent out a clean property.
A clean, well-maintained, updated, and ‘move-in ready’ property is much more likely to be returned in that condition. Consider providing a voucher for one professional cleaning session as part of your move-in package.
Take care of repairs/practice preventive maintenance.
Be responsive, and address requests for repairs and maintenance promptly. Work with your tenant to identify a good time to undertake repairs. Consider appropriate upgrades or preventive maintenance that could be done at the same time as a requested repair – it may save you time and money, and you’ll have a tenant who is grateful for the added customer service.
Make cosmetic improvements.
It’s fairly routine to make upgrades and improvements before a new tenant moves in. Still, it’s very important to remember your residents (long-term tenants) and offer them items such as fresh paint, a professional carpet cleaning or house cleaning session every two or three years. If you’re making significant improvements to some of your properties, be sure to offer them to your residents, too, ideally on a schedule that works for them.
Let tenants know when safety-related repairs are being made, or if you’re taking steps to prevent break-ins and thefts. Tenants will appreciate that you’re putting their safety first and that you’re keeping the property up-to-date.
Provide supplies and essential equipment.
Unless the property is a condo, ensure that tenants have easy access to items such as a salt bucket and shovels in the winter. You should still plan to shovel snow from the sidewalks or property yourself, but providing tenants access to these items permits them to salt down an icy path or dig out their snow-covered car. Your property may have unique requirements and, while you or your property manager will typically take care of them, tenants – especially residents – may appreciate having access to basic supplies or equipment.
Deal with disruptive tenants promptly.
Respond to tenants’ concerns about other tenants promptly. You will have to use your mediation skills, but if you have obnoxious or disruptive tenants, and you don’t address the situation, you could lose your good tenants.
Be realistic when raising rents.
It can be tempting to raise rents by the maximum legal amount, but offering good tenants a rent that is slightly below market rates can help retain them as long-term residents, which will save you turnover costs. Consider offering a longer-term when good tenants extend their agreement. A note or a small gift to acknowledge their continuity as tenants will always be appreciated. Depending on the Tenancy Act in your property’s jurisdiction, it might make sense to raise the rents to the maximum allowable percentage, but provide a rebate back for signing a lease; for example, rebate half or a full month’s rent. This could help convert a good tenant to a resident.
Ask your tenants.
Offer incentives to tenants if they provide successful referrals for other tenants. This may save you time and money and should have the added advantage of placing existing good tenants’ friends in the same building. Conduct an annual survey of your tenants – it should be quick and short and will provide valuable feedback as to what’s working, what could be improved and what they’d like to have that isn’t currently part of the property. Provide an incentive for returning completed surveys – coffee cards work well. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best dual occupancy selection to make your house a dream come true.
Everyone enjoys a gift or acknowledgment. Let your tenants know you appreciate them. A note or card on their birthdays or Christmas is a thoughtful gesture that will reinforce your working relationship. Earlier I mentioned incentives like professional cleaning services. Still, other items like a gift basket or special deals with local businesses are also effective ways to support tenant loyalty or to acknowledge a milestone. (Local businesses will often provide a group discount when you purchase multiple items or services.) Consider holding a holiday party or open house; this works well for larger, multi-unit buildings and has the added benefit of tenants getting to know each other in an informal setting.
Ways to Give Thanks to Your Tenants
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.
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.
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 a 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.
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!
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.
Consider an Upgrade
This doesn’t mean you have to renovate the entire house 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.
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.
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 get in touch 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.
Show your tenants you appreciate them by treating them fairly and avoid anything that could be considered favouritism. 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 pay on time consistently. Doing so could cause accusations of favouritism. In property management, treating tenants equally, at all times, is important, and will help your tenants to respect, and appreciate you.
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. At MJS Construction Group, we offer a wide range of home builders Melbourne.
Treating your tenants well isn’t just a nice gesture, it’s one that will reward you and your property investing endeavours 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 endeavour and something you practice with every interaction you have. It’s a tall order but one that’s worth striving for.
Just as landlords pray for ideal tenants, tenants pray for ideal landlords. Landlords how not only are fair, honest, and appreciative but also those that keep their promises. There’s nothing worse to a tenant than having been told a new fence will be put up, or hints of a new wood flooring plan to be installed and nothing happens. Not following thru on promises can quickly deflate a good landlord-tenant relationship and risks churn, costing more money in the end. Deliver on your promises and your tenants are guaranteed to be most grateful.
Remember, treating tenants like family makes them feel respected, appreciated, and special which will encourage them to do the same when taking care of the home, paying rent on time and possibly become your best tenants.