Finding a good tenant is only half of a landlord’s job. The other half is managing the property with the tenant in it, which can be a demanding task. To make it a bit easier, many property managers create a “tenant manual.” Even though the rental contract outlines most of the tenants’ responsibilities, a tenant manual can be a great additional resource for new tenants. Below are a few main sections you should consider including in your tenant manual.
Contents of This Article:
- What Is a Tenant Manual and Why Is It Important?
- 5 Things to Include in Your Tenant Manual
- Importance of Landlord-Tenant Communication
What Is a Tenant Manual and Why Is It Important?
A tenant manual is a comprehensive document provided by landlords or property management companies in Philadelphia to tenants when they move into a rental property. The primary purpose of a tenant manual is to inform tenants about various aspects of their tenancy. For instance, it may outline property rules and procedures while serving as a reference guide throughout their stay.
Providing a tenant manual is important for several reasons. For one, it outlines tenants’ and landlords’ expectations and responsibilities. This helps prevent misunderstandings and conflicts by setting clear guidelines for compliance with the terms of the lease agreement.
Additionally, a tenant manual helps educate tenants about the property, like its features and how to use various appliances, utilities, and amenities. In turn, tenants can make the most of their living space and reduce the likelihood of accidents or damage due to misuse.
Finally, a tenant manual typically includes contact information for the property management company or landlord. This makes it easy for tenants to reach out with any questions, concerns, or maintenance requests.
5 Things to Include in Your Tenant Manual
When creating a tenant manual for your rental property, it’s crucial to include comprehensive information that helps tenants understand their responsibilities, the property’s rules, and essential procedures. That said, here are five key things to have in your tenant manual.
- Payment and Fees
- Changes in the Tenant’s Lifestyle
- Basic Property Features and Diagnosis of Problems
- Home Care and Maintenance Responsibilities
- Referral Bonuses and Other Offers
Payment and Fees
Outline all the ways you accept the rent and the dates when it’s due. Additionally, if your tenants lose your bank account number or are unsure which name to put on a check, have this information in your tenant manual. Mention what happens if the rent is past due and if you allow exceptions in special circumstances.
List any other fees and charges your tenant may expect to incur, such as a fee for a missed maintenance appointment or a check processing fee. If you offer reimbursement for certain types of maintenance performed by the tenant, describe the conditions of this offer.
Changes in the Tenant’s Lifestyle
The conditions and circumstances under which your tenant originally signed the lease may change over time. They may want to get a second pet, may be expecting a baby, or may grow tired of their roommate. Use the tenant manual to explain which lifestyle or other changes should be reported to the landlord and what are the proper procedures.
Basic Property Features and Diagnosis of Problems
Many things can go wrong in a house, but not all are equally serious. Some simple problems can be fixed within five minutes, while others can be stopped before becoming a big mess. Dedicate a section in your tenant manual for listing common household problems and solutions, covering plumbing, electrical, appliances, and HVAC. While they may seem like common sense to you, your tenants might not have the same knowledge and experience in home maintenance.
Describe where the main circuit breaker, gas, and water shut-off valves are located. Include information about common issues, such as resetting a tripped circuit breaker or fixing frozen pipes. If you know that your home or property is prone to certain problems, make sure to specifically address them.
Additionally, outline the procedure for notifying you when something happens. Even if the tenant can fix it without your assistance, you still want to know what went wrong. A circuit breaker that trips all the time might indicate an electrical issue. And don’t forget to set the boundaries for your handy tenants – they may do the troubleshooting, but most repairs should be left to a professional.
Home Care and Maintenance Responsibilities
Help your tenants understand what is expected of them when maintaining your rental property. For example, tasks like changing batteries in smoke alarms or closing A/C vents before winter can be done by the tenant. However, what about cleaning a pool or unclogging a backed-up toilet? It’s often difficult to draw a line where your tenant’s responsibilities end and yours begin.
Regardless, your tenant has at least one responsibility – to keep your property in good shape. To help them do it, list a few best practices and reminders on using the fireplace, dishwasher, HVAC system, and other home features and appliances, especially if appliance manuals are unavailable.
Referral Bonuses and Other Offers
If you own several properties, especially within the same area or apartment complex, encourage your tenants to refer their friends or family members. Besides the benefit of proximity, you can offer them a bonus in the form of a gift card to a local restaurant or a discount on their rent. Remember to mention any other special offers or loyalty programs you use to reward and retain good tenants.
Importance of Landlord-Tenant Communication
This tenant manual answers many questions your new tenants might have, and it can significantly reduce the number of calls you’ll be getting from them. However, it’s still essential for your tenant to know that he can talk to a human, too.
So, make sure you include a number(s) your tenants can call for different questions, including emergencies. You can also make a table showing how fast you handle different requests. For example, missed phone calls will be returned within 24 hours; an appliance repair technician will visit the same day, etc. This will give your tenant a frame of reference and help manage their expectations.
If you’re looking for help finding tenants and managing properties, look no further than Bay Property Management Group. Our team of dedicated professionals can help you manage and maintain rental properties while cultivating long-lasting relationships with tenants. We provide comprehensive rental management services throughout areas like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. So, contact BMG today to learn more about how we can help your rental business.