You don’t have to do much digging online to find negative blog posts and forum threads about landlords, and it’s easy to understand why a person who has been mistreated by a landlord would negatively stereotype them.
Some landlords treat tenants poorly by overcharging for rent, neglecting to fix problems with a property, ignoring phone calls, or behaving in other ways that harm their reputation.
But what about landlords who treat tenants fairly – why do they still get such a bad rap?
Unfortunately, good landlords are often stereotyped negatively because of the behavior of bad landlords.
If you think that’s happening to you, read on, and you’ll learn how to avoid 4 negative landlord stereotypes that place a strain on your tenant/landlord relationships and hinder your rental property business from growing.
4 Negative Landlord Stereotypes and How to Avoid Them
1. The Intrusive Landlord
Let’s face it – no one wants to deal with a landlord who randomly shows up at their property. That especially applies when landlords show up at inconvenient times, like the middle of the night.
Not only is being intrusive bad for your landlord/tenant relationships – it’s illegal in some areas. For example, if you’re a Prince George’s County landlord, you are required to give a tenant 24 hours’ notice before entering the property unless there is an emergency.
If your tenants complain about you being too intrusive, ask yourself why. Chances are, you’re either showing up to the property too frequently, calling them too often, or otherwise unnecessarily checking in with them.
That being said, some tenants may think you’re intrusive no matter what you do. Don’t let a difficult tenant who accuses you of being “intrusive” talk you out of performing regular inspections or setting up times to visit the property every few months. It’s your job to take care of your property – just be courteous enough to inform the tenant of when you plan to show up.
2. The Unfriendly Landlord
While you shouldn’t try to be a tenant’s best friend, you do need to build long-term professional relationships with your tenants and avoid being stereotyped as an unfriendly landlord. Here are a few ideas to help you accomplish that:
Start sending holiday greeting cards. You can buy greeting cards in bulk and keep them at your desk so you always have cards handy around the holidays. Personalize each card with the tenant’s name so they don’t feel like you sent out the same general card to everyone.
- Smile and greet them warmly when you see them. Doing so can help you build rapport with your tenants and make them more likely to comply with your rules.
- Give small gifts for birthdays. For example, you could buy a pair of movie tickets or a gift card to a local store. This is a great way to show that you’re a thoughtful landlord who cares about your tenants’ happiness.
While being friendly can work wonders for your career, keep in mind that you must also demand respect from your tenants. If they perceive you as too friendly, they may take advantage of your kindness and push boundaries to see what they can get away with.
3. The Law-Breaking Landlord
Many tenants have felt the frustration of dealing with a landlord who oversteps their authority by breaking the law. Not only does being a law-breaking landlord strain your relationships with tenants – it could land you in serious legal trouble and put you on the receiving end of a costly lawsuit.
That’s why you must learn all of the laws that apply to you and adhere to them.
Make sure you carefully look over your local laws – some of them vary from county to county. Certain laws for Baltimore landlords, like laws concerning right of entry, are different for landlords who own properties in other areas of Maryland.
If you find that learning all of the laws that apply to you is too time-consuming, consult a lawyer who can tell you whether or not you’re running your business 100% legally. If you have a concern about a specific law, check out the Landlord/Tenant section of the People’s Law Library of Maryland website.
4. The Greedy Landlord
Some tenants feel like landlords are only in the rental property business to make lots of money. This negative perception often happens when the tenant feels like rent rates are too high or thinks that the landlord cares more about profit than he does about taking care of his properties.
Some landlords may even take advantage of tenants just so they can make more money. Not only is that morally wrong – it’s often illegal.
But what if you’re a good landlord, and you still can’t escape the “greedy landlord” stereotype?
First of all, it’s perfectly fine to start a rental property business for the sole purpose of generating more income, so remind yourself of that. Then, make sure you’re doing everything you can (within reason) to keep your tenants happy. They won’t think you’re greedy if you show that you care about their experience living in your property.
For example, you could:
- Provide a welcome basket to all tenants who move into one of your properties. Consider including a map of the local area, bottles of water, necessities like paper towels and toilet paper, and a gift card to a nice local restaurant (like Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore!). This is a cost-effective way to let tenants know you want them to be happy.
- Waive late fees in certain circumstances. While you shouldn’t do this often, you may want to consider it when a long-term tenant who normally pays on time simply forgets to pay. Be smart but sympathetic.
- Avoid making cheap repairs. When a tenant is facing a problem in your property, don’t just give them a short-term solution. Instead, hire a reputable contractor to completely fix the problem if you can’t handle it on your own. Not only will this make tenants perceive you more positively – it’ll keep your properties in good shape and help you avoid costlier problems in the future.
Remember, as a landlord, you are running a business, and businesses need to make money to survive. As long as you balance your desire to make money with a desire to run a business with integrity, your tenants won’t perceive you as greedy.
If you’re looking to take a more proactive approach to building a good reputation in Baltimore, consider speaking at a local school or church, mentoring a newbie landlord, or giving a talk at a local civic organization. When you educate people in a helpful way, they’ll be much more likely to see you in a positive light and avoid assigning any negative landlord stereotypes to you.