How well do you communicate with your tenants? This may not be something you’ve particularly thought about before, but with all the upheaval of 2020, good communication is more important than ever, and simply talking to each other can solve all sorts of problems before they get out of hand. So, if you’re a landlord who wants to build a friendly, professional relationship with your tenants, here are a few tips for truly effective communication.
1. Choose your channels
You should give your tenants more than one way to get in touch with you, and it should work for both parties. For example, you should give your tenants your phone number, but it’s OK to put limits on when they can call you (e.g. during working hours), unless there’s an emergency. It’s also helpful to keep a written record of your communication with your tenants, and talking over text and email provides an automatic record of your conversations. If you do talk in person or over the phone, it’s a good idea to send a follow-up email with the main points you discussed, and ask your tenants to confirm what was agreed. To keep track of these communications, make sure to file them away (in print or online) so you can easily refer back to them if you need to.
2. Be available
A major source of disputes between landlords and tenants is when one party feels ignored by the other, so model good communication by making sure you are always available. This doesn’t mean you have to respond to every email or text immediately, but you should answer as promptly as you can, and if you can’t reply right away, at least acknowledge that you’ve received their message and will get back to them as soon as possible.
3. Be open
Honesty and openness are crucial for healthy communication with your tenants. If you’re planning to raise the rent, change the terms of the contract, replace furniture or white goods, or carry out repair work or upgrades on the property, tell your tenants exactly what is going to happen at the earliest possible opportunity – most people will be happy if they are given enough time to think about any upcoming changes and prepare. Of course, you will have agreed certain timeframes for inspections and repairs within your rental contract (e.g. 24 hours’ notice before a visit), so stick to those and try to give even more notice if you can.
The key to great communication in any relationship is listening, and this applies to landlord–tenant relationships too. It’s vital that you listen to your tenants’ problems or requests, if they have any, and do what is reasonable to address them – they will be more likely to listen to you if they feel heard and respected too. You can show that you’re listening by responding to repair requests as quickly as possible, and by getting in touch regularly to ask if everything is OK with the property.
Ultimately, you and your tenants are on the same team: you both care about your property and want to look after it, and this is a great basis for building healthy, open communication.
Are you a landlord with a property to rent in Bristol? Contact Gough Quarters today to find out how we can help you.
Cover photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash