Choosing a tenant for your investment property? Selecting the right tenant determines if your rental will deliver positive returns or will be a liability. To ensure you select and keep the best tenant this guide covers everything you need to know.
Many investment property owners have experienced the tenant from hell. It may have been daily calls to fix a loose door handle, unexplained holes in the walls and broken glass. Worse yet, your ex-tenant could have left in the middle of the night after trashing your house and without paying thousands of dollars in overdue rent and utility bills.
Your rental insurance may cover this. However, it may not cover the lost rental income caused by the property being vacant for as long as it takes to get your property rent-ready again.
When you decide to rent out your property you need the best tenant you can find. The tips in this article will help you find a tenant who will respect and look after your investment property; and someone reliable and responsible.
- Why is tenant selection important
- Points to consider when selecting tenants
- Screening tenants for your rental property
- Managing prospective tenant questions
- Tenant background and reference checks
- How to choose the right tenant from different rental applications
- What to do if you choose the wrong tenant who doesn’t pay their rent
- Forms you may issue to your tenant
- How to keep the right tenant
Why is tenant selection important
A landlord’s choice of tenants has the greatest impact on the success of his business. Renting to the right tenant can turn your rental property into the hassle-free, money-making machine. But the wrong tenant can cost you thousands of dollars.
Repairing your property after a bad tenant can be expensive. In addition, you could face unpaid rent or legal fees if you have to go through the eviction process to get rid of a problem tenant. Tenants who move out without paying their last month’s rent and who damage your property can cost thousands of dollars. Even worse, they often refuse to leave, causing months of stress and headaches.
If you don’t know how to choose the right tenant for your property investment, it may cost you a fortune in:
- Lost rental income (if your home is vacant).
- Extra repairs and maintenance costs (because tenants don’t take care of your property).
- Unpaid rent (for leaving halfway through a lease term).
- Rental applications
- A decent property manager can help landlords protect themselves from unpaid rent, legal fees, and turn-over costs.
- Some factors are more important than others in finding tenants with a high level of dependability, and tenants who maintain good relations with the neighbors, in addition to paying rent on time.
Ideally, your tenant will have long-term employment and a decent income. They will also have a flawless rental history. You can expect prospective tenants to use a range of application tactics. Including, offering more money, providing more ID, rental ledger and references, etc. than required in the application process. Some will also pre-complete the rental application to submit at the viewing.
As a landlord, you likely have insurance to protect against your tenant neglecting or destroying your property and not paying their rent. However, your focus when searching for the “right” tenant should be on low vacancy. This means find a tenant likely to rent your property for a long time. This will save you money on vacancy periods, stress, and time wasted on finding new tenants.
Forget maximising rent paid per month. Instead, look to maximize rental returns over 2-3 years. With this shift in perspective, look for other factors instead of accepting the tenant who offers the most monthly rent. Stability and longevity of rental income provide the security that comes with having low vacancy rates and maintenance costs.
Therefore, screen for applicants who request longer-term leases, applicants who have been in a previous rental for at least two years, and applicants who have a stable employment history of at least four.
When choosing tenants, make sure you check their rental history. Check for previous evictions on the tenant’s record, job history, etc. Always verify a prospective tenant’s employment through their employer and complete reference checks with prior landlords. Ensure they provide several ways to contact them in case of rent payment issues.
When checking their income, ensure they provide at least two years’ tax return with employer details (over 24 months would be better). A credit check should reveal little / no bad credit history. Plus, always obtain proof of identification (driver’s license as well as other forms) and have them read and sign the application form to show they have read it and agree with it.
You must document everything!
Points to consider when selecting tenants
No matter how big or small, problems can make owning a rental property a real nightmare; especially if you’re managing the property yourself. What is the best way to avoid the tenant from hell? Secure the best tenant you possibly can.
This is not as easy as it sounds and it can be tricky. Finding a good tenant will mean learning from mistakes and reading between the lines. It means being diligent and critical, but in the absence of anything more substantial, it can also mean relying on intuition.
If you want to ensure you get a great tenant, then your best bet is to use a professional property manager. Use an agent who has proven experience, access to tenancy and court databases, credit checks, property ownership, and rental history. This enables them to confirm legit landlord and agent references.
Landlords generally appreciate the value offered by experienced property management agencies; especially when it comes to selecting tenants and managing tenant relationships. However, there’s still a lot of uncertainty with selecting the right property manager. After all, choosing the wrong agent could mean you’re locked into a bad contract for a long time.
While it’s not often that you can have your cake and eat it too, some agencies offer month-to-month no lock-in contracts. This means you get the benefit of the agent’s experience with tenants. You also get value from their access to important tenant tools and data services. All while having peace of mind that comes from knowing that you can cancel the agency’s services at any time with no penalty.
For more information on the benefits of property management services contact the Benchmark team. Benchmark also offer month-to-month no lock-in management contract services!
Present your property well
If you look after your property and present it well, you are more likely to attract people who will pay it the same respect.
Stop and think about who you want to attract to your rental property in the first place. Then you need to ensure you are catering to that demographic in the way you offer the home – think about the cleanliness, upkeep, and renovation jobs you might undertake before renting your place out.
You don’t need a brand new million-dollar property in a great location to attract the best tenants. You do need to provide appropriate accommodation, including a clean and tidy property, with well-kept fixtures and fittings in working order.
Check out our recent article on getting your investment property rent-ready for more information on presentation.
Take note of attendees at the inspection
If you see a potential tenant for the first time, you want to watch out for red flags; for instance, the tenant is late, unprepared, rude, uninterested, does not seem to take care of their belongings.
At the inspections make a mental note – or perhaps even jot down – who is who. Remember the names of the organised applicants that submitted their rental application at the viewing.
Don’t forget the couple that talked about their dog even though their application didn’t specify a pet.
Make note of parents ignoring their kids as they run rampant at the viewing, slamming doors and making a mess.
Read between the lines of rental applicants
Every prospective tenant will need to submit a completed rental application. The Western Australian Government provides a rental application template for landlords.
A good tenant application will have the following qualities:
- On-time payment record
- Stable income
- Good credit report
- Ability to cover potential property damage with an upfront security deposit
- Positive referrals from previous landlords
- Respectful of neighbors and polite
- No prior history of eviction
- Neither lewd nor dangerous behavior on record
When reviewing applications to pick the best tenant, read between the lines. An application from a prospective tenant who has rented four different properties in 18 months should raise red flags. It may mean you’ll be going through the same process searching for another tenant in 4 months time.
You will have a stack of applications to go through in a limited time. Therefore you should consider rejecting an applicant for anything that may be a risk to your expected long-term rental income.
- Check to see if all previous security bonds were returned in full. If not, why not?
- Verify their employment status is the same as their application by contacting their employer.
- Double-check all identification provided until you’re sure the applicant is indeed who they say they are.
- Determine whether reference checks are genuine. Contacting previous landlords or property managers is a good idea as they should have nothing to gain from misleading you and their reputation is at stake if they did mislead you and you were to find out about it. Ask questions like:
- “were there any bond deductions?”
- “were they pleasant to work with?” and
- “would they rent to them again?”
When completing reference checks, listen for any hesitation in their tone. The referee may be reluctant to tell the truth. Manage this by assuring them that the reference is 100% confidential.
Listen to your intuition
If you have a bad feeling about an applicant, move on to the next one. The Perth rental market is hot at the moment and you should have plenty of quality applications to chose from. This is also true for picking from several applicants that you don’t like. Make sure you feel comfortable and get a good impression from the tenant you intend to choose. Take your time to make a rational decision.
If you’re not desperate to have the property rented immediately, either hold off from selecting from any applicants. Consider dropping the rent asked for and/or having another round of inspections. It is better to have no tenant leasing your property than a bad tenant. A bad tenant will cost you in the end.
In every other circumstance vacancy should be treated like the plague. Lost rental income is a drain on your investment property returns – it is effectively “bad debt”. The last thing you want is to select a tenant only to be forced to go through another tenant selection process in 3 months time.
Avoid this by valuing applicants who stack up on paper and also request longer-term leases. A good rule of thumb is to prioritise applicants who were in their last rental for at least two years, and who have held a stable job for at least four years.
Screening tenants for your rental property
The most important point when it comes to screening prospective tenants is to be methodical and use an effective screening process.
Selecting the right tenant often means choosing the best applicant from a number of prospective tenants. This can be time-consuming and stressful so it pays to be prepared.
The right tenant will be financially stable, of good character and with a clean rental history.
The ideal long-term tenant will take care of your investment property and won’t cause trouble in the neighbourhood.
Selecting the right tenant for your rental property will help you save time in the future as well as preserve the value of your property and generate a solid investment return.
Here are some tips to screen the right tenant.
Set a standard tenant questionnaire
As a landlord, a tenant screening checklist ensures that you are thoroughly (and fairly) screening anyone interested in renting a property from you. It also ensures consistency in how you treat different rental applicants.
You shouldn’t allow yourself to discriminate against any of the prospective tenants on factors such as race, gender, nationality, religion, disability, or familial status.
A standard questionnaire will ensure you treat applicants equally, and also make the process easier for you. It’s a win-win – avoid discrimination and speed up the screening process.
The standard tenant questionnaire can represent the first stage of your screening process. It will help you identify red flags, allowing you to eliminate poor quality candidates early in the process. No point wasting time going through the whole process with applicants who you know aren’t suitable.
However, you don’t want to turn off any strong applicants. So on the questionnaire don’t ask personal questions and keep the tone of the questions light. Below are some questions you may like to consider asking.
Why are they moving?
A prospective tenant’s answer can be insightful as well as act as a conversation starter in further interviews. Favour answers like “I’m changing jobs” and “We need more space” instead of “I’m moving because I don’t like my landlord.”
A proper answer to this question will give you a lot of information about the prospective tenant – their job and way of living. The answer to this question can also raise some red flags. If they are moving due to eviction – and they don’t have some good argument about it – then this probably won’t be the best applicant.
How much time have they spent in their current rental?
Remember, ideally we want tenants who are stable and looking for a long term rental as this reduces your vacancy rate and lost income.
How long are they planning to stay in your rental?
Ideally look for a tenant willing to sign a yearly lease. The right tenant will be eager to find a long-term home. Satisfied tenants and landlords usually prolong their agreements longer than a year, which is the best outcome for both parties.
What’s their occupation?
Give preference to tenants who have a stable long-term job within a convenient distance of your investment property. These tenants are likely to stay in your property for the longer term. Also, they’re likely to pay their rent on time.
What income band are they in?
This is vital and we’ll go into more detail later.
Tenants who pay their rent on time should be given priority. If you’re just starting as a landlord, you might find that your definition of “affordable” doesn’t quite match that of your prospective tenants. So use a rule of thumb to guide you. According to Spaceship, a tenant’s rent should be no more than 25% of their total monthly income.
Do they have any pets?
If you have a no-pet policy, this is also one of the first things you should find out about your tenant. Clearly state your no-pets policy from the beginning.
It’s important to document an arrangement where you allow pets, with or without a pet bond. This includes how many pets and the types of pets you will allow. Service animals are working animals, not pets. If they insist on bringing their pet either this is a deal-breaker for you or you should consider changing your policy, accounting for any additional requirements.
It’s worth noting that many people have pets and there could be a shortage of rental properties allowing pets. If the risk is managed appropriately, this could be a simple means of earning additional revenue above the standard market rate for a similar property.
How many people will be living with you?
You probably don’t want to discover that a dozen college students are sleeping in your rental when it is a townhouse for 3 people. There is more wear and tear and subsequently more maintenance costs draining the returns of your investment.
Do you or any of your housemates smoke?
Ask yourself whether you want to allow smokers as the smell can be difficult to clean after the tenant moves out. The standard lease requires tenants to smoke outside.
How many parking spaces would you need?
Do you have adequate parking space suited to the tenant’s requirements? If not, how will this impact the neighbours?
Do you plan on subletting?
Your rental property’s no-subletting policy must be made clear from the start. The standard lease in WA states a tenant cannot sublet without the lessor’s permission. Subletting can result in complications with unapproved tenants living at the property and difficulty removing unwanted residents.
Can you pay your first 2 weeks’ rent and bond within 48 hours of lease signing?
Under contract law, without payment to accompany the signed lease, the tenant could walk away and leave you high and dry. Before ceasing leasing efforts, always ensure the tenancy is secured with a signed lease and bond payment.
A Lessor in WA cannot request more than 2 weeks’ rent in advance. Some tenants may volunteer to pay more rent in advance than is required which you can accept. This can further mitigate your rental property cash flow.
Do you have references from your employer and previous landlord?
An employer’s referral proves that a tenant is employed and has a stable income, which is crucial when determining whether a renter can afford the rent.
Also request references from your previous landlord (and your current landlord, if applicable). It’s possible that a current landlord may provide a dishonest reference with a tenant they want to get out of their property.
However, talking to a former landlord may provide a more accurate picture of a tenant’s reliability. Also, try and speak with the property manager as their reputation is at stake so they’re more likely to be impartial.
Are you expecting a favorable reference from your current landlord?
It’s good to get any issues they have with their existing landlord out in the open. If they answer ‘yes’ and fail to mention a massive dispute, then you can be sure they are dishonest. Best to consider rejecting this tenant application.
Is your current landlord aware you are considering moving?
A question to determine whether there is clear communication between the applicant and their existing landlord.
Have you ever been issued a breach notice or termination notice?
Definitely worth understanding any issues they’ve had in the past.
Before I conduct a background check for all adults in the household, are there any issues I should know about?
If there are issues allow them to explain. After all, no one is perfect and any issues with the background check may be related to an incident from years before.
Have you recently filed for bankruptcy?
Again, allow them to explain.
The screening process should be transparent, fair, and assertive. Furthermore, you should remember that asking questions is just the first step. Once you’ve found the right tenant, run background checks, check references, and document everything.
Managing Prospective Tenant Questions
Remember renting your property and finding the perfect candidate is not all about you. Prospective tenants will also need to satisfy their own concerns. Keep in mind they’re also going through the same time-consuming and stressful process. While you may receive plenty of applications, they are likely viewing plenty of properties. They may be applying to rent other properties and getting knocked back on several. Understandably they will be stressed.
This application process will take time and energy away from the general responsibilities of their day-to-day lives. This is exhausting for them as much as it is for you. Demonstrating empathy will ensure the application process goes as smoothly as possible. Be understanding and keep a positive attitude, regardless of whether the tenant is the best applicant or not.
Try not to be too authoritative or intimidating.
Your investment property is your best asset. Understandably, it’s important you select the best tenants. However remember you’re dealing with people, not criminals. They’re prospective tenants trying to find a home, and interested in whether your rental is a good fit. You can make this search easier for them by providing prospective tenants with the opportunity to ask questions. If they’re serious candidates they will have plenty of questions regarding the property, local area, and your rules.
The tenants also need to be confident that they’re a good fit and uphold the agreement. It’s important to keep in mind that as much as you are looking for a good tenant they are also looking for a good landlord.
Honest and open communication should go both ways.
Tenant background and reference checks
Tenant rental history
To do a complete rental screening process, you need to be informed about your prospective tenant’s rental history.
Many landlords like to reach out to prior landlords and ask them about their previous tenant’s behaviour. From their answers and tone of voice, you can learn a lot about the candidate you’re dealing with. Below is a list of important questions you should focus on.
- Did they pay rent on time?
- What was the reason for the tenant’s move?
- Did they keep the property clean?
- Did the tenant cause any damage to the property?
- Were they friendly and easy to communicate with?
- How did they behave towards neighbours?
Tenancy databases and blacklists
Tenancy databases may be used by lessors (landlords) or real estate agents as a way of screening people who have applied to rent a property. They are commonly referred to as “national tenancy databases” or “blacklists”.
Tenancy databases are run by private companies, not by the Government. They collect and hold information about tenants and can only be used by members (usually real estate agents) who pay membership fees.
Members can list Tenants on the database for certain reasons and can check the database to see if a prospective tenant has been listed by another member.
If a lessor or an agent typically uses a tenancy database to screen tenants, they must give each applicant written notice stating the name of any tenancy database they typically use and providing contact information for the database operator. A sample notice (Form 18A) would be attached to the Application to rent residential premises (Form 18).
If a lessor or agent finds personal information about a prospective tenant within a tenancy database, they must inform the prospective tenant within 7 days. This notice must be in writing and must include:
The name of the database;
The name of each person that made the listing (if this information is included in the database);
How and in what circumstances the prospective tenant can have the listing removed or amended.
Lessors, agents, and database operators have obligations under the legislation. Failing to meet certain responsibilities can result in the relevant Government department issuing an infringement notice (also referred to as a modified penalty) or prosecuting offenders before a Court.
Only a Court can issue the penalties listed in the relevant legislation, but where the Government department believes there is sufficient basis it may issue an Infringement Notice.
The current maximum penalty for an Infringement Notice can be as high as $4,000.
The following is a list of some of the reasons for an infringements to be issued. The full list can be viewed and downloaded from the Department of Justice’s Legislation website.
- Failing to give written notice to an applicant of the usual use of residential tenancy database – $1,000
- Failing to give an applicant written notice of personal information stored on the residential tenancy database – $1,000
- Listing personal information about a person in residential tenancy database contrary to section 82E(1) – $1,000
- Listing personal information in residential tenancy database contrary to section 82F(1) – $1,000
- Failing to keep a copy of a written notice under s.82G(2) for one year – $1,000
- Failing to amend or remove personal information from residential tenancy database within 14 days – $1,000
- Lessor or lessor’s agent failing to give a copy of personal information within 14 days of the request – $1,000
- Database operator failing to give a copy of personal information in residential tenancy database within 14 days of the request – $1,000
- Keeping personal information in a database longer than permitted – $1,000
How to choose the right tenant from different rental applications
Your vacant property has been advertised, there have been several inspections and you have received a number of promising applications.
So how do you pick the right applicant?
Screening rental applications is a crucial process.
Choosing the right tenant can mean fewer issues and better-maintained property.
While every landlord has a different situation, here are some general tips on choosing between different applications.
It sounds obvious, but consider what you want in a tenant. What are your deal-breakers? What are your nice-to-haves?
At a basic level, every landlord wants a tenant who pays their rent on time, takes care of the property, and who’s likely to lease the property for several years.
If you’re lucky you get the trifecta. However, most likely applicants will be stronger on some criteria and weaker on others. How do you score each tenant application and prioritise the competing criteria?
The choice is yours.
You may choose to place greater importance on the applicant’s previous rental history and the reasons for the applicant leaving their current property.
What if one applicant is offering to pay above the asking price? While the possibility of extra income may be alluring, selecting on this basis alone can lead to disastrous consequences. A competitive rental market may encourage applicants to offer a premium to market rates. Some tenants will offer more because they feel their application is weak – they may have a poor rental history or weak references.
How much importance do you place on references?
Reference checks involve obtaining feedback from the tenant’s previous property managers or landlords regarding the tenant’s tenure, payments, and cleanliness.
A reference check may also involve calling the applicant’s employer, friends, and family.
References may also be biased.
To manage these competing priorities you need a framework to score each applicant.
Here’s a simple framework you can use.
- Remember the three important criteria we discussed earlier? income stability, property care, and long term tenancy. Some screening application questions may be more related to one factor more than another.
- Rank each question you ask in your screening application by how important it relates to these three factors – ie: how long have you been employed by your current employer? income stability gets a 3 for being most related. Then I personally think long term tenancy gets a 2 and property care comes in last therefore scoring a 1. There is no wrong answer, so don’t over-think it.
- Rank each application against the questions – ie if you have 20 questions and 10 applicants, for each question rank the applicants from 10 to 1, strongest to weakest. When finished you will have 10 applicants ranked strongest to weakest for each of your 20 questions – 200 scores ranging from 10 to 1.
- Once you have your applicants ordered for each question, for each applicant total up the scores. Revisiting our example, we pick an applicant and then sum the scores they received for each question to get the application score. Repeat this process for each applicant.
- Now that each applicant has a total score, we can rank them again in order of strongest to weakest. It’s simple but effective. You can choose the top 3-5 applicants and then use your judgment to select the tenant you feel will suit your personality.
Choose a stable tenant
Look for a tenant that hasn’t moved a lot and has a good employment history. If they have moved often this can suggest they may not stay long in your property too – which will leave you looking for a new tenant all over.
If they have long periods without a job or a history of switching between jobs, there’s a risk they won’t be able to pay the rent if the pattern continues. This will cause disputes and problems. After some time, you may need to deal with eviction – and look for a new tenant once again.
Judge your prospective tenant’s current circumstances, previous history, and ability to pay rent on an ongoing basis. They will need a steady monthly income that surpasses the price of the rent by at least 2x to ensure they also have enough money for living expenses.
Ideally, this should be a person that has a stable job and has plans to stay in your rental property for a long time.
As you are probably aware by now, finding a good tenant is a time-consuming and stressful task. The best thing you can do to reduce this commitment is to ensure you secure a tenant who is most likely going to rent your property for a long time.
Another option is to hire a property manager who will take the stress off your hands and whose interests are aligned with your own. They will do their utmost to ensure your property is well maintained and remains tenanted.
Rely on your judgement of the applicant’s character
Go through the tenant screening process and give yourself some time to choose the best candidate based on how you assess their character. Your intuition is important when choosing the right tenant. After all, the tenant should be likable to you and your property manager if you choose to use one.
It’s not easy to find a tenant that will both fulfill their obligations, care for your property and who is also likable. An ideal tenant is a person that will respect your property and that has some valuable traits – respects your time, doesn’t cause problems in the neighbourhood, or secretly sublets without permission.
When choosing the right tenant consider the person’s personality and communication skills. You will communicate with this person often. Therefore, select and applicant who’s transparent, cooperative, and has a positive attitude. This will also be helpful in the future if disputes arise.
Keep in mind that candidates that look good – have a stable income and good references, may not always be the applicants you get along with best.
Don’t compromise your standards
Your investment property is your best asset. Finding the right tenant will help you preserve it’s value while also generating a steady passive income.
The ideal long-term tenant will meet all the requirements you outline in your rental agreement.
You need to be prepared for this being an arduous process – don’t select a sub-standard applicant because you want the process to end.
For the best results consider hiring an experienced rental property manager. They’ll take care of all the most stressful aspects of hiring a tenant for you.
What to do if you choose the wrong tenant who doesn’t pay their rent
This chart will assist lessors with the count of days needed when serving a notice to terminate a periodic tenancy agreement.
Source: commerce.wa.gov.au lessorsguide
Forms you may issue
There are several notices and forms that lessors/property managers can use to deal with issues.
If your or your property manager intends to inspect the premises you must attempt to negotiate a time with the tenant and then give 7-14 days’ notice in writing. Notice of intention to enter premises (Form 19) summarises the circumstances in which you may enter the premises. Include the reason for the inspection in a letter or Form 19. You should also include details such as the time (either morning or afternoon, as a minimum) and date.
Use the Notice to tenant of breach of agreement (other than failure to pay rent) (Form 20), if you believe your tenant has breached the agreement by means other than by not paying rent – such as damage to property, gardens not maintained. Alternatively, you can write a letter with the necessary details. If the tenant fails to deal with the problem, you can apply for a court order to ensure they do so or take steps to end the agreement.
If you believe the tenant has breached the agreement by not paying the rent or paying the rent late, you may use:
Breach notice for non-payment of rent (Form 21). This requires you to bring the rent up to date within 14 days. Alternatively, you may send the tenant a letter to this effect.
Notice of termination for non-payment of rent (Form 1A). This is used in the instance of outstanding rent that is not paid within the 14 days under the breach notice. It seeks to end the tenancy agreement and requires the tenant to vacate the premises within the next seven days.
Notice of termination for non-payment of rent (Form 1B). This form can be sent one day after the rent should have been paid. It warns the tenant that, unless the outstanding rent is paid within the next seven days, the agreement will be terminated. Also, should the tenant refuse to leave, the matter will be taken to court. If they pay all rent owing (and court fees) no later than one day before the court action, the action will not proceed. If the tenant wants to end the tenancy for any reason other than failing to pay the rent you may use the Notice of termination (Form 1C) and specify the reason.
If you abandon goods of a high value and the tenant wants to dispose of them you may use Notice to a former tenant as to the disposal of goods (Form 2). You can use Notice as to the disposal of goods (Form 3) to inform the tenant of your intentions.
How to keep the right tenant
As a landlord or property manager, you’ll know that tenant turnover is extremely expensive. Administration, marketing, application processing, cleaning, and repairs can quickly become costly. Worse still, every day the property sits vacant it’s not generating rental income.
Therefore great tenants are like gold. Find one and then earning returns from the property becomes much easier. You can expect less turnover as well as fewer maintenance issues. Plus you earn passive revenue from your investment.
However great tenants are hard to find, and when you do secure one you’ll need to do everything you can to retain them. The question is how?
The answer is surprisingly simple.
To improve retention, you should focus on developing a great relationship with your tenant. There are five things that you and your property manager can do to ensure their best tenants hang around for the long term.
Show your tenants that they’re a priority from day one. This is an incredibly simple thing to do if you can empathise with your tenant. Start by asking the tenant how they like to be communicated with and treat them with respect. Help them feel welcome and that you’re ready to help should an issue arise.
There are other ways to be proactive too. It’s small kindnesses that will make the difference. This might be a welcome basket or taking the time to introduce them to their new neighbours.
Remember important dates
You’ll have asked for their birth date during the application process, but during the ‘getting to know you’ phase of the tenant-landlord-property manager relationship, be sure to note other important dates too. This can be as simple as rental milestones, upcoming holidays, and anything else of significance. Use a calendar to ensure you get reminders and simply send an email or message – it’s the small things that make the difference.
Resolve maintenance issues promptly
A tap starts to leak. The hot water system fails. As a tenant, there’s nothing more frustrating in these situations than an unresponsive landlord or property manager.
On the flip side, there’s nothing more relieving than getting issues fixed quickly and painlessly. Resolving maintenance issues quickly and transparently will not only improve tenant relations but will also ensure that small problems with the property don’t turn into big ones.
Problems happen in life, and maintenance issues can’t be avoided. However, keep communicating with your tenant and they will appreciate that you are taking care of the problem for them as quickly as possible.
Keep channels of communication open
While it’s important to be proactive on your end, you must help your tenants feel like they can contact you when they need to and get a prompt response. In today’s modern world, there are plenty of channels available to help you and your tenants communicate. I recommend creating a mix of different channels and allowing your tenants to choose which channels they use.
Ask for feedback
Building relationships is essential to retaining great tenants. Show a desire to be the best landlord or property manager you can be and get to know your tenants on a more personal level. Then you’re demonstrating your willingness to prioritise their welfare. Feedback is a key part of this process.
Try using different feedback channels. Tools like Google Forms are great to survey your tenants. Also make them aware of other communication options. This can include email, direct messages, and chat channels you support. Ask whether there are any areas in which you can improve your service. If they’re perfectly happy, terrific. If you get some constructive criticism, even better! Use it to become a truly outstanding landlord and property manager. You can expect to lower vacancy rates.
Great tenants are just like the rest of us – they appreciate being remembered, being heard, and being attended to.
More often than not, agents and landlords want a well-maintained property that is securely leased and provides income and returns. You want to be treated courteously and respectfully. So does your tenant.
Here are 5 things to keep in mind when communicating with your tenants:
Nothing is resolved with anger
Sometimes things will go wrong, or repairs may take longer than expected. Communicating calmly will help both parties resolve issues faster. In conversations over potentially contentious issues, try to maintain a level tone and be polite – basically, being adults.
Demonstrate mutual respect
Where possible you need to respect that generally, tenants in your property want to live peacefully in a comfortable home. Agents and landlords who show up unannounced, treat their tenants like employees or even overstep the boundaries of simple communication can come across as disrespectful to the rights and privacy of the tenant.
Communicate with empathy
Everyone is busy. But if your rental property’s hot water system is broken, and you don’t make an attempt to have it fixed the same day, that’s not showing much respect for your tenant. It could be a breach of your contract. Property managers and landlords have a duty of care to provide hospitable accommodation. This includes hot water.
If your tenants get a little noisy and disturb the neighbours once in a while, don’t treat them like a common criminal. This goes for any situation or conflict. The alternative will result in issues with your tenant and a vacancy at the end of the lease at best. However, remember to treat your tenant with professionalism at all times – after all, this is the way you would want to be treated.
Get everything in writing
The first rule in all of this is to forget the ‘handshake’ agreement and get everything in writing. This will protect you with names and dates if a promise or action goes unfulfilled. If you say you’re going to do something, then do everything you can do to follow through on your word. If it’s impossible, talk to your tenant and work out an alternative solution.
Finding the best tenant for your rental will help maximise the long term returns generated by your investment property.
For information on how you can choose the right tenant for your rental, reach out to the Benchmark team.