A good working relationship with tenants minimizes the likelihood of costly lawsuits and maximizes cooperation with timely rent payments, property upkeep and longer lease terms.
Investing the time and money required to maintain and cultivate a positive working relationship with your tenants can be the difference between amicably discussing and settling differences and a costly lawsuit. Working on the relationship also creates value by maximizing tenant cooperation with timely rent payments, property upkeep and longer lease terms. Here are some tips for maintaining good relationships with tenants and for working on issues with problem tenants.
1. Screen Potential Tenants
Conducting a background check on a prospective tenant is a wise way to ensure a mutually successful experience for you and the applicant, and it is an effective risk management tool. Background checks do present some costs, and you may be worried about losing money if the property is going to sit empty for a period of time. However, the risk of not performing the screening on tenants in order to save time and to cut costs could have more serious consequences, resulting in lost income, property damage and litigation costs as well as jeopardizing the other tenants’ safety. Elements of a thorough background check include:
- Criminal history
- Credit check
- Previous landlord verification
- Identity verification
- Employment verification
2. Take Care of Your Property
Taking measures to properly maintain the premises sends a powerful message to tenants. It proves that you take your role as building manager seriously and it encourages them to take pride in the condition of their rented spaces. Furthermore, it could bolster relationships and lessen the probability that they take legal action in the event of an incident or dispute. Take these measures to be prepared for maintenance issues:
- Establish a procedure for dealing with maintenance requests that guarantees prompt service to tenant issues.
- Create, communicate and enforce policies regarding shared spaces, such as nonsmoking policies.
- Visit your property often to stay aware of any issues that tenants may not be aware of or may not bring to your attention.
- You may want to schedule a yearly inspection of each unit to make sure tenants are keeping up with their lease agreements.
3. Maintain Accurate Records
Along with establishing a procedure for dealing with tenant and maintenance requests, establish a system for documenting these requests and any further communication between you and tenants. Keep copies of all emails and written communication, and record the dates and times of all verbal conversations.
If any issues arise in the future about a request that may or may not have been taken care of, you have detailed records of the communication about that request. This will also help if you encounter tenants that seem to be confused about dates and times that were agreed upon or even the type of maintenance that was to be performed.
4. Take Proper Security Measures
Provinces and territories have differing legislation regarding the duties of building owners and managers. Although you may not be expected to guarantee the safety of tenants, visitors and guests, you must exercise reasonable care to protect them from foreseeable events. Also, security measures make tenants feel safe, benefitting your relationship with them and lowering the likelihood of a lawsuit. They can also potentially lower your insurance premiums.
5. Focus on Customer Service and Be Professional
Taking extra steps to make tenants feel welcome helps to create a cooperative relationship that is unlikely to end in litigation. Small gestures like the following can dramatically improve the relationship you have with tenants.
- Prompt, polite responses to requests
- Providing support during moves
- Clearly outlined policies and swift enforcement for all tenants
Even when dealing with unruly or rude tenants, it is always important to maintain politeness and professionalism.
6. Resolve Issues Immediately
When receiving a tenant or maintenance request, it is best to resolve the issue within two to three business days (or sooner, depending on the severity of the issue) and to fix the problem properly the first time. When dealing with issues such as damage to property and uncleanliness of units, it is best to send a polite warning to the tenants as soon as you become aware of the problem. If an issue arises involving parking or noise violations, you can involve police in the matter, who will then issue their own warnings or fines to the responsible tenants.
Delayed action about an issue may seem unnecessary to tenants, and it could cause distrust and anger to fester.
7. Transfer Risk
Even with a positive landlord-tenant relationship, there are potential exposures that must be addressed with well-designed property and liability insurance policies. Coverages to think about include buildings insurance, contents insurance, emergency assistance and accidental damage insurance.
Maintaining a positive relationship with all of your tenants is very important for successfully managing property—and it’s very beneficial for your business.
For more risk-management tips or to get a quote on your apartment, contact our commercial insurance team today!