Creating a good, positive relationship with your tenants is very important. Tenants are the backbone of a successful rental property business so building and nurturing that relationship will contribute to a landlord’s success. One of the best ways that I know to help accomplish this is to make your tenant’s life as easy as possible while they live in your property.
When it comes to “who should do what” between tenants and landlords, conflict often arises unless your expectations are clear from the start. Begin with the lease agreement where you can list things like the rent and when it is due, how it is going to be paid, late payment penalties, rules regarding guests, minor repair expectations and utility agreements. Review the lease with the tenant page by page and have them initial that they have read it and understand your rules.
Continue by leaving a tenant binder in each of your properties. The binder can include emergency numbers so that the tenant knows who to call for a gas leak or power outage. It should include yard expectations like lawn mowing and snow removal. It can also include a move out checklist so the tenant knows what you expect in order to receive their security deposit back.
Throughout the tenancy, there are lots of things you can do to make a tenant’s life simpler. Let’s start with the yard. If you want the yard to look nice and you don’t want your house to look like a “rental” – then make the yard very low maintenance. Apart from basic lawn mowing and snow shoveling, most tenant’s will not spend extra time on the yard. Let’s face it – it’s not their yard so there’s no pride of ownership. Not in my experience anyways. If you have to have any plants at all – make them perennials. Surround them with thick black gardening cloth that makes it hard for weeds to peek through and then cover that with rocks. Do the same around any trees. Providing a container of weed killer might inspire a tenant to use it but it’s not likely so try to slow down those weeds on your own. Another thing you can do is have a professional company come once or twice in the summer and spray the lawn with fertilizer and weed control.
Another handy trick to make a tenant’s life easier is to either install a keybox or put keyless entry locks on the outside doors. This will prevent you having to run over in the middle of the night (or ever) for tenant’s who have lost their keys. The code can be changed on the keybox the next day when you return the key and keyless lock codes can be changed with each new tenant.
These are just a few ideas to help you establish and maintain great relationships with your tenants. Do you have any other ideas you’d like to share about how you make your tenant’s lives easier?
This topic often comes as a surprise to new landlords. When they are trying to attract new tenants they think that low rent or other incentives will bring more prospects. The truth of the matter is that, low rent or not, everyone wants to feel safe and secure in their home. Especially when prospective tenants have children. Often times, given a choice between two rental units, tenants will choose to pay a little more if they feel their family will be safer in one unit over the other.
We live in a day and age where fear is very prevalent among us all. Our constant exposure to news stories and headlines coupled with the news maker’s focus on murder, violence, guns and all other manner of horrific death makes a lot of people very wary of the outside world. Things are usually not half as bad as we think but the constant focus on all the bad in the world leads us to believe that there’s evil around every corner. I could go on and on about this but suffice it to say, it’s only going to get worse as we are exposed to more and more ways to view this information. The silver lining in all of this is that it gives landlords a definite edge if they can dispel these fears by creating a secure living space for people.
So how can you set yourself apart and attract more tenants to your rentals, thus giving you more quality tenants to choose from? Start right in your ad, mentioning the safety and security of your house or building. Then make sure everything is in place to follow through on those promises. Have good strong doors, deadbolt locks, locking windows that are in good repair and extra reinforcement on ground level windows. Make sure hand rails are sturdy and put non slip adhesives in the bottom of your tubs. To ensure against fire, check that all smoke alarms are in working order, have any fireplaces inspected and take the extra step of providing a fire extinguisher. Make sure your property is well lit on the outside including motion sensor lights where needed. Add key locks to the gates in the yard.
Some of these steps may seem obvious and some might seem overboard but put them all together and they present a great picture to a prospective tenant. You are now a landlord that cares about their safety and you’re willing to take extra steps to show them that you care about their well being. When someone is out shopping for a place to live, seeing flimsy doors and windows and no attention to detail where safety is concerned, your place will look like a haven and a higher rent will seem trivial when a tenant feels like they and their family will be safe.
Do you have other ideas to make your property more secure? Feel free to comment on this post as I think this is an important topic and one that will be very helpful for any landlord looking to attract quality tenants.
In order to be successful in the rental property business, you really do need to be prepared. Putting good systems and processes in place will give you the confidence to get started and also keep things running smoothly as you acquire and manage more properties. This business like mindset is the key to success for a new landlord. On that note, here are a few things you should have in place before you start looking for tenants:
As I continued to manage my first property, I added a few more organizational items to keep things in order:
If you are just considering buying a rental property, I hope this list will help build your confidence to move forward. They’re fairly small steps to take, they’re easy to do and they set the stage for your future rental property empire.
Christmas is a great time to make your tenants feel appreciated. Little gifts go a long way towards a happy, long term relationship. In December, our city has the “Our Best to You” craft event and I always head there with my tenants in mind. Homemade fudge, amazing soaps, original prints, personalized ornaments – there is no end to the fun. I put a few items together in a gift basket with some homemade turtles and knitted dishcloths (thanks mom) and voila. Your tenants feel your appreciation for taking care of your property and in turn become greater tenants because they enjoy living there. Celebrate the season and share the love. And if you don’t love them – make that your New Year’s resolution!
In this day and age, there is a form to cover every possibility in the rental property business. From pet leases to utility sharing agreements, everyone will agree “it’s best to always get it in writing”. Making sure that all of the rules are clear before a tenant moves in leads to fewer disagreements and a cooperative landlord/tenant relationship. These signed documents can also protect the landlord if a substandard tenant should slip under their radar and take up residence.
If you are just starting out with one rental property, there are 5 essential rental property forms that you should have on hand before you start to look for a tenant.
RENTAL APPLICATION This is the first form that a prospective tenant will fill out for you during the first meeting if they are interested in renting from you. It covers the personal information of all the people that will be living there including their employment history, credit information and rental history. The best part of the application form is that it allows you to do a credit and criminal background check of a prospective tenant.
INSPECTION REPORT This is filled out before the tenant moves anything into your dwelling and again when they are ready to move out before you return their security deposit. There is a checklist for each room and describes the condition of each item on the list. I always back this form up with dated photos of the property and have the tenant sign both.
LEASE AGREEMENT This is the meat and potatoes of all rental property forms. It outlines the rent, security deposit, length of stay and also lays out all the rules and regulations of living in your property. You can start out with a generic form which can be changed and revised to suit your specific needs or you can use one from an experienced landlord. I like this option because it will already be much more specific based on the landlord’s previous experiences and you can still modify it as required.
DEPOSIT AGAINST RENT Once you have done all of your investigating and decided on a great tenant, it’s time to get a deposit to hold the place until move in day. This form is simply a receipt for that amount and also sets out what is still required as far as security deposit and rent before they take possession.
LANDLORD CHECKLIST Owning rental properties is a business and in order to run a successful business, you need to keep yourself organized. I created a landlord checklist that I use for each new tenant moving in to my properties. It reminds me of all the things I need to do including property fix ups, tenant checks and everything from moving in to moving out. I find this tool invaluable as I never miss a thing and it starts my relationship with my tenant out on the right foot.
These forms will get you started in your rental property business and should be considered your “core package” that you use for everyone. Depending on your needs or as your business continues to grow, you can introduce more forms to your repertoire. These might include utility agreements, garage leases, notices to enter the premises or eviction notices.
Evicting a tenant can be a stressful, tedious process if you aren’t sure of the proper steps to take. There are all kinds of situations that can lead to an eviction but the most common one is missed rent payments.
If a rent check is returned to you NSF, meaning that there are non-sufficient funds in the tenant’s bank account, things can go one of two ways. They can go well (the tenant pays you for the missed rent and NSF charge in a timely manner) or not so well (the tenant misses this payment entirely and possibly more rent payments). If things go in the latter direction it is very important to act. The first step is to send them a default notice. If they don’t respond to that by paying you the missed rent, the second step is to start the eviction process.
This is where some landlords make the mistake of using their heart and not their head. You hear all the time that “tenants have all the rights” and “it can take forever to evict a tenant”. More often than not though, a lengthy eviction is a direct result of a landlord not starting the process soon enough. They listen to excuses and promises to pay, all the while paying rental expenses out of their own pocket while these promises continue to be broken. Suddenly they find that weeks or months have passed and they still haven’t taken the steps to formally evict the problem tenant.
Starting the eviction process sooner rather than later is in your own best interest because owning a rental property is a business. If the tenant comes through and pays you and you feel positive about having them stay on, you can cancel the eviction. If they don’t come through, you haven’t spent so much time and out of pocket expense waiting for a resolution, the eviction process is already in motion.
A final note for the kind hearted, and I’ll be honest I am one, is that ultimately bad things can happen to good people. If your tenant has had a good payment history and has hit a bump in the road, hopefully he’ll be able to catch up and set things right. If not you can look at this as a positive learning experience for you to learn the eviction process. Hopefully it will be an experience that you won’t have to repeat again.