Communication is the foundation of any great professional relationship. Proper landlord-tenant communication can make all the difference when it comes to a positive leasing experience. Handling tenant complaints, concerns, and calls can add stress to landlords, especially when emotions flare. So, today we help you stay on track and maintain a positive and productive experience. Continue reading to learn how to achieve consistent and professional landlord-tenant communication in any situation.
The Basics of Landlord-Tenant Communication
When a property is rented, tenants are not only signing up for the home but you as a landlord. During the lease, a landlord and tenant will need to communicate countless times about a number of circumstances. Keeping those interactions, polite and productive is key to resolving issues quickly. Therefore, continue reading below as we highlight the basic traits of successful landlord-tenant communication.
Customize Your Communication Styles
Landlord-tenant communication comes in many forms. Some more formal notice requirements leave the landlord’s hands tied as they are dictated by law to provide them in writing. However, there is far more flexibility for everyday communications. While we still recommend getting conversations in writing, that could be through text, email, or regular mailings.
So, depending on what your tenants prefer, try, and alter your communication style to suit what they will respond to. Keep in mind, not everyone checks email every day, and the mail is not always fast or reliable. Understanding how best to get the information to your tenants will help alleviate confusion. If you decide that a phone call or face-to-face meeting is best, always follow-up and recap the conversation via email or text.
Keep it Professional
Essentially, landlords are a business owner, and the tenant is a customer. Therefore, any and all landlord-tenant communication should remain professional. Establishing a precedent of respectful and unemotional interactions is critical, whether on the phone or face-to-face. Always remain friendly but consistent in your message to tenants or applicants and be mindful of Fair Housing Laws.
- Be courteous but firm
- Avoid negative statements
- Do not interrupt
- Maintain eye contact
- Remember to smile
- Do not cross your arms
- Avoid aggressive body language
Dealing with tenant issues, especially complaints, can become emotionally charged. Therefore, some landlords may find it difficult to handle consistently. If you struggle with communication or do not have the time it takes, consider hiring a professional third-party property manager. They can handle all landlord-tenant communication for you, ensuring both Fair Housing compliance and happy customers.
Value in Over-Communication
How much is too much? When it comes to landlord-tenant communication, more is definitely better. Take time to speak clearly and answer any questions your tenant may have. This will aid in cutting down claims of misinterpretation or miscommunication. For example, when there is a maintenance issue, keep your tenants aware of the steps you are taking to resolve the issues. Therefore, even if it takes time to secure a maintenance specialist, for instance, the tenant still knows you care and are working on fixing the problem. Never leave them without a response for days at a time.
How to Build Rapport for Better Landlord-Tenant Communications
In any business, like real estate investment, each interaction is a chance to build upon your landlord-tenant relationship. Below we cover a few aspects of landlord-tenant communication that can help owners build rapport with residents and foster a better relationship.
- Active Listening – Active listening techniques are a useful tool to deescalate a conversation quickly. It helps keep the call under control while gaining the information you need to assist the tenant better. So, take notes and rephrase what the caller says to clarify and empathize with their circumstances.
- Be Confident – Confidence can come off as conceited, but it is still a necessary trait for landlords. However, to work effectively, property owners must choose their words wisely and always remain helpful. Stay informed of policies, laws, and lease requirements, but if you do not immediately know an answer, simply say, “that is a great question, and I just need a little time to make sure I provide you the correct answer.” Tenants will appreciate your honesty.
- Control Your Voice – Volume, pitch, tone, and speed are all important factors to success in person or over the phone landlord-tenant communications. The key here is to read the situation and adjust to match. For example, heated discussions call for a slower and slightly lower tone and pitch to not escalate an already bad interaction. On the other hand, a higher pitch or quicker speed conveys a sense of enthusiasm. How you say, something goes a long way in how the message is perceived. So, speak carefully.
10 Steps to Improve Landlord-Tenant Communication
Not every landlord has extensive prior experience in customer service. So, if that is the case, landlords must learn how to hone their skills to achieve professional landlord-tenant relationships. Check out these top tips from professionals in the industry below.
- Create a Culture of Trust
- Always Be Honest
- Communicate Your Availability
- Flexibility is Crucial
- Simple Communication is Best
- Keep Up with Preventative Maintenance
- Shorten Repair Response Time
- Respectful Scheduling
- Positivity Matters
- Rely on the Professionals
Create a Culture of Trust
Your success as a landlord depends on a positive landlord-tenant relationship. In turn, that relationship depends on the tenants feeling comfortable enough to reach out when an issue arises. So, from the start, follow up on requests in a timely manner, check in regularly, and always do what you say you will do.
Always Be Honest
Tenants are choosing a property but also a landlord. It is easy for property owners eager to fill units to hide or ignore undesirable aspects of their property. While you want to showcase a property in the best light, that does not mean you can lie. Never exaggerate or make promises for amenities or features you cannot deliver on. Not only is this unethical, but it can also cost landlords big in the long run.
Communicate Your Availability
Tenants need to know when and how to get in touch with their landlord. Setting these standards early helps to alleviate frustration for both you and your tenants. So, if you have set office hours, make sure tenants know what they are. Additionally, address the process for after-hours needs and discuss how emergencies will be handled. We recommend providing a maintenance contact sheet to your tenants at move-in. This should include emergency numbers as well as vital utility service contacts and definitions of what constitutes an emergency.
Creating pathways for open landlord-tenant communication is beneficial for owners as tenants will feel more comfortable raising concerns. Keep in mind; they are the stewards of your valuable investment. Cooperation from both sides is essential.
Flexibility is Crucial
As we mentioned above, not every tenant communicates the same way. Millennials may prefer text messages, while others may appreciate a personal phone call. So, in the beginning, ask tenants whether they prefer text, call, email, or letter. The goal here is to get important information to your tenants through the channel they are most likely to check often. Doing so ensures everyone stays in the loop.
Simple Communication is Best
There is no need for landlords to overcomplicate or overthink tenant communications. Therefore, keep any written or verbal communications concise and to the point. Consider the type of message you are trying to convey and choose the best avenue to get your point across, for example:
- Text – Great for short and simple or time-sensitive messages such as letting a tenant know a maintenance specialist will be arriving soon.
- Email – Ideal when the information you need to convey is more detailed or complex in nature. Also, consider following up any in-person or phone conversations with a quick email to reiterate anything that was discussed.
- Phone – Phone calls are commonly the first contact tenants have with landlords. Further along in the lease, a phone call provides a way to communicate during more sensitive issues. If the tenant is upset, an email of text tone may be misinterpreted. However, taking the time to make a personal phone call, even to deliver bad news, is always appreciated.
- Letter – Mailed notices are sometimes required in the property management industry. Generally, these landlord-tenant communications deal with failure to pay rent, eviction notices, or lease violations. Often these are sent via certified mail to ensure the tenant receives the communication.
Keep Up with Preventative Maintenance
It goes without saying that anytime landlords can prevent a maintenance issue, it is good for all parties involved. Maintenance problems are a leading cause of strain on an otherwise healthy landlord-tenant relationship. So, schedule semi-annual property inspections and regular preventative maintenance to recognize and address any concerns early and have a technician look over and service major systems. Therefore, allowing owners to ensure the tenant is keeping up with their responsibilities and protecting your investment simultaneously.
Shorten Repair Response Time
The importance of how maintenance needs or complaints are handled cannot be overstated. So, have a solid process in place for addressing repair needs during and after regular business hours. Property owners must respond promptly and politely to guide tenants through the next steps or organize a maintenance specialist. Additionally, having a go-to list of repairmen you can count on is beneficial for landlords who need a repair handled immediately.
Need advice on choosing the right maintenance vendors for rental properties? Check out our blog.
Tenants appreciate ample notice when someone needs to enter the home to conduct showings, repairs, or inspections. While it may not always be possible, try your best to work around their schedule. If they are not available for showings at a certain time on a given day, try and accommodate. If the tenant had pets that need to be put away before a repairman enters, allow them time to do so unless it is an absolute emergency. While it is your property, they have legal rights to it through their lease, and the courtesy and respect of at least 24 to 48 hours’ notice before entering is much appreciated. Also, some local jurisdictions and states have specific notice requirements, so always ensure you comply with the law.
No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, but it is sometimes necessary. Whatever the situation may be, attempt to balance the bad with some good. Therefore, focus on positive actions rather than solely negative and always be mindful of your tone. As a landlord, put yourself in the tenant’s shoes and ask, how would you want to hear about the situation? Even during stressful times, maintain a calm voice, speak clearly, and actively listen to the tenant’s concerns or questions. By remaining positive, landlords can make the most out of a difficult situation.
Rely on the Professionals
Handling all aspects of running a rental business takes considerable time and effort. The added stress of dealing with landlord-tenant communication can push even the most experienced landlords to a breaking point. Thankfully, there is a solution to help property owners, and that is professional management. Successful real estate investors understand the immense value in someone else handling the day-to-day operations. Whether you have one property or one hundred, utilizing an experienced property manager saves both time and money in the long run.
The fast-paced and competitive rental property industry demands landlords be on top of their game. A large part of success in the industry hinges on professional landlord-tenant communications. Poor service, communication, or response time can cause landlords to drive away great tenants. So, why not leave the day-to-day operations to the professionals at Bay Property Management Group?
Our dedicated team is driven to provide excellent customer service to both tenants and owners as we handle any and all issues that arise. Thanks to our in-house and extensive network of third-party vendors, Bay Property Management Group can handle maintenance needs in a timely manner. Give us a call today to learn why the area’s leading professional rental management company is the best choice for your portfolio.