Last week, a report found that a lack of communication was the biggest reason behind deposit disputes between landlords, letting agents and their tenants.
A good tenant-landlord relationship is as an integral part of a successful landlord business as marketing, having the correct gas certificate or acting on repairs quickly. But despite the benefits of a friction-free relationship with a tenant, it’s often neglected.
No one is suggesting landlords start popping round for cosy cups of tea with their tenants - not least because that is likely put you in breach of the law - but fostering a relationship that allows both sides to communicate can go along way to solving problems before they bloom into full blown disputes - such as problems over deposits.
Another benefit of good communication, is that a tenant who feels they are being listened to, will feel safer and more secure in their rental home and is more likely to stay long term.
Here are a few tips on cultivating a healthy landlord/tenant relationship.
Who does the tenant contact?
Clear lines of communication are important; in case of something going wrong or an emergency, the tenant needs to know exactly who to call. Is it the landlord? A managing agent? A third party? It is hugely frustrating for a tenant to be passed from pillar to post, particularly if it is something that needs to be acted on quickly. Giving a tenant a list of numbers to contact as part of a welcome pack when they move in is the easiest way, alternatively WhatsApp or email the details to the tenant so they have them at hand on their phone.
Carry out internal inspections
Carrying out an inspection at least once every six months (or, even better, three months) will ensure any issues that could potentially bubble over into something bigger are knocked on the head quickly. But while inspections are of benefit to both parties, they can feel like an invasion of privacy to tenants who may think you’re simply having a snoop around to check up on them. When requesting an inspection - and you must follow the legal guidelines on this and give 24 hours’ written notice before visiting the property, unless there’s an emergency - make it clear it’s mutually beneficial and a chance for them too to flag any issues and discuss any problems.
Follow up all enquiries
Even if you have an excellent relationship with your tenant, don’t rely on verbal communication word and a handshake. Follow up every conversation, whether it’s in person or on the phone, with an email outlining the main points that were covered and the actions that need to be taken and who is responsible for each one. Putting all the information in writing will reduce your risk of liability and lower the chances of any misunderstandings.
If you are an agent, keep a record of every conversation you have with the tenant; landlords who use an agent should check in with them to see if they are keeping records. Not only does this create a clear line of communication between the two parties that sets out the actions that need to be taken, it shows the tenant you are listening and acting on their request. And if there is a delay in getting the issue cleared up, having an email in your inbox is an easy way for everyone to refer back to the original message.
And on that note, keep everything on file in case you need evidence should there be a problem further down the line.
Be open and prepared to compromise
Don’t bombard your tenant with rules; this is their home and it won’t be kept pristine. Be accepting of the odd scuff mark or worn carpet and be fair when it comes to rent rises - give them plenty of notice and outline the reason why you are raising the rent and how it compares to the market. If a tenant feels unable to meet the raise, or feels it is unfair and sets out a clear and convincing case, listen to them - on balance keeping good tenants could be better value in the long term than increasing the rent.
Replying quickly to tenants in a polite and professional manner, keeping them up to date with any outstanding issues goes a long way to showing your commitment to the upkeep of the property - and showing you care about their home shows you care about the tenants.
Call 0800 294 4522 to get a quick quote today!