In a nutshell – it’s all about people skills.
Some landlords tend to treat tenants like the enemy, and in doing so find themselves with never-ending trouble. But tenants aren’t the enemy – they’re your customer. The key here is to take a professional business minded approach and acknowledge that property management is a people business as much as it’s about bricks and mortar.
But first - what makes for a good tenant? Is it the one who looks after your property the best? Definitely! Or maybe the one who pays the highest rent? Or is the one who stays the longest? Or the one who complains the least? As a landlord you naturally want all of those things, but it’s a balancing act for sure. In fact I’ve found that if you are constantly pushing to get top rent you will often struggle with the other three.
So, to that end, here are my top tips to attract and retain quality tenants:
When the tenanthas an issue or is unsure about something, talk to them ASAP. Pick up the phone or email them (it’s good for record keeping too). Fast communication shows you take their concerns seriously. Remember: it’s an investment for you, but it’s their home. Fast response times also send the subtle message that you will be proactive with any rent arrears and inspections. They will know they are dealing with someone professional and respect that.
Tenants will mirror the standard you set. If you take care to present them with a property that is clean (inside and out) with lawns mowed, gardens tidy, functional kitchen and bathrooms, Healthy Homes compliant, with no obvious paint decay or worn-out flooring or curtains, tenants will be inclined to reciprocate. You need to show them the standard expected. If you leave maintenance items outstanding you are signalling to the tenant that you don’t care. Your house isn’t that important, it’s just money to you, and they will respond accordingly.
3. BE REASONABLE.
If a tenant requests something such as having a pet, an upgrade to the home, a lease term extension, or that inspections only be in the afternoon because they work night shifts, take your time to fully consider before responding with a blanket “NO”. Of course you have bottom lines that you don’t want to compromise on, but at least take the time to treat the tenant as a valued customer with a valid request that warrants your full attention.
4. RENT LEVELS.
Charge a rent that is at or slightly below market levels. It’s simple economics that the more you charge for something, the fewer people will be interested in buying. The same goes for rentals. For example, if you advertised your house for rent at the market level of $600 per week; you might attract applications from say 10 people. However, if you asked $635 per week that number might drop to just three people – and who are those tenants who are prepared to pay over market rate? Most likely those who are desperate and have been turned down by other landlords for whatever reason. Do you really want to have only three (not ideal) people to choose from? Are they going to look after your home the best? Ideally you would want to receive multiple tenancy applications so that you can be highly selective.
5. RENT REVIEWS.
Come rent review time, communicate where you see the current market rent. Maybe provide some examples and justify your proposed increase to them. This shows that moving elsewhere is uneconomic as your rent is comparable to market levels. It further demonstrates that you have taken the time to research the market and not just put it up because its time, and also that you care about them enough to give them ample warning.
So, those are my top tips for attracting quality tenants. I’ve found over time that the better-quality tenants naturally gravitate to (and stay with) landlords who treat them well. It doesn’t need to cost you lots of money, and it doesn’t mean you have to have the lowest rent.
Perhaps not what you expected here, but just common-sense advice that works well for me. If you have any questions or ideas to add, I would welcome your email.