Help your tenants to help themselves (and you!)
IT’S universally acknowledged that being a landlord has its fair share of headaches. No matter how nice your tenants are; you’re still leaving them in charge of your most valuable possession, which is a stressful prospect.
In addition, much like your children, you’re only likely to hear from them if they want something. Or worse, if there’s something wrong. But, although nothing can change the fact that your tenant effectively lives and sleeps in your life-savings stash, there are a few simple steps that any landlord can take to ensure good relations with their tenants and, in so doing, help their tenants to help them out.
Opening effective lines of communication is the single most important way to help your tenants help you. Most household problems start small and can be simply solved, but if your tenants can’t get hold of you, they can’t let you know they’ve got a problem in the first place. And then things can snowball.
To avoid this, make sure your tenants know exactly which is the most effective way to contact you and which hours you’re most readily available. Then stick to your side of the bargain, and be easily accessible. Prompt and polite exchanges will build up a rapport between tenants and their landlords and should make both parties feel like they have a vested interest in maintaining the property.
It’s not enough to take the call – you have to be reactive to tenant issues as well – if you move swiftly and efficiently to resolve problems you send the message that your property and your tenants are important to you. When landlords aren’t proactive in resolving problems, tenants tend to follow suit. By being responsive and ensuring things are fixed speedily and comprehensively, your example should teach your tenant to feel house-proud too!
On that note, make sure that both you and your tenants are aware of exactly how the responsibility cookie crumbles. Both parties should feel confident in knowing whether an issue is theirs to resolve or not, because if there’s a grey area, small problems can be overlooked until they get too big to ignore. Which then means a lot more time, money and stress expended on something that could have been easily solved if there had been clear lines of responsibility.
The last and simplest tip that we have for you is to create a paper folder for the manuals and warranties of all the appliances in the property and leave it with the tenant. Surprisingly enough, written instructions to hand tend to be easier to follow for the average tenant than you having to paraphrase them on the phone! We can’t emphasise enough how important it is that the documents you leave are copies rather than the originals though – one hapless tenant we knew packed the whole folder up with her belongings when she left her rental and then moved to the other side of the world. That’s a headache that no amount of ‘clear communication’ can cure!
If you’re paying for professional management to take away the headaches then it’s critical to ensure that you know how repairs will be dealt with.
Visit http://www.fixflo.com/our-customers-map to see if the agency you use has is one of the hundreds across the UK that have invested in a Fixflo system to protect their clients’ properties.
If they haven’t ask them what processes they have in place to:
– communicate with tenants who don’t speak English proficiently
– boost first time fixes and reduce your costs
– ensure your tenants know what to do to protect your property in an emergency