The Consumer Federation of America released a comprehensive report last year that indicated landlord/tenant complaints were among the top five complaints received by consumers over the last year (interestingly, in their list of top 10 complaints, “communication” ranked number seven). Those complaints included:
- Unhealthy or unsafe conditions
- Failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities
- Deposit and rent disputes
- Illegal eviction tactics
And as far as their “worst” complaints received? Landlord/Tenant ranked number two – even higher than fraud!
Clearly, good communication with your tenants is a positive step towards ensuring your professional relationship with new tenants stays positive and efficient. Good communication will help prevent and/or alleviate many of these troubling landlord/tenant issues plus ensure you get all of the information you need to properly maintain your property as well as those occupying it.
Steps To Effective Communication
Since the vast majority of today’s renters are under the age of 50, it’s no surprise, then, the overall preferred method of communication for these younger generations is electronic. This can make communication challenging when you want to make a great impression and keep the lines of communication open.
Landlords who choose to implement an integrated landlord/tenant platform like TurboTenant, have already opened the lines of communication by providing a way to communicate quickly and efficiently with new and prospective tenants. However, once you have communicated, screened and approved your new tenants, communication still remains a vital part of your landlord/tenant relationship.
Here are some tips to help you retain great lines of communication with your new tenants.
Provide a Welcome Pack
A welcome packet is a great way to invite your new tenants to their new home. Not all landlords do this which means when you do, you’re sure to make a great first impression. General things you can include in a welcome pack include:
A map of the area as well as a map of the apartment complex, if applicable.
This is particularly useful if your new tenant is moving from out of the area. Being able to have a clear map of your area as well as key locations within your complex (if applicable) will be quite helpful for the new tenant.
A list of important phone numbers.
These include the phone numbers to yourself, utility providers, any repair personnel, and emergency numbers.
Essentials like cleaning supplies, snacks, or drinks.
There are many low-cost things you can provide that will make their move-in easier and less strenuous. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and soap are just a couple of examples.
A selection of coupons.
Moving can be expensive but there are plenty of places online where you can print out useable coupons that might help ease the financial burden of moving for your new tenants.
A hand-written welcome note.
Hand-written notes are becoming a lost art. This is a nice personal touch that shows you took time out to jot down a few lines welcoming them and offering them any assistance they may need.
A Gift Card
Do you remember how exhausting moving can be? Imagine the relief of not having to search through boxes to find plates, cups, and silverware. A simple gift card for a local restaurant or pizza delivery can make your new tenant’s day end on a bright note so they don’t have to worry about cooking on the evening of their move.
According to statistics, “the number of e-mail users worldwide has since grown to more than 3.8 billion users and is projected to reach 4.3 billion by the year 2022.” This means more and more, people are using electronic communications to reach those they wish to communicate with. A welcome email can include:
- Information on how to set up utilities (water/electric/cable/internet/garbage/etc.).
- Suggestions for renter’s insurance (if required).
- Information about the property (garbage disposal, amenities, parking information, etc.).
- Where they can pick up the keys to the unit.
- How to report maintenance issues.
- Contact information should they have any more questions.
Be Clear on Your Availability
By setting aside a specific time to be available to your tenants, you are better able to manage your time and avoid conflicts in scheduling and unreasonable expectations from your tenants. Being a landlord or property manager is a highly demanding position so having clear boundaries that give you some breathing room, will allow you to take the necessary time to carefully review all communications from your tenants and respond accordingly rather than feel overburdened by constant contact. Allowing yourself a specific time to review communications is not only best for your tenants, but for your own sound mind as well.
Have Alternative Contact Information
In the event that you are unavailable or out of town, be sure there are alternative ways for your tenants to communicate with you or resolve issues. This can include an emergency back-up number, an email contact form, or even an alternative person who can rectify any issues that arise in your absence.
Provide Trusted Handyman Contact Information
Let’s face it: You can’t be everywhere all the time. For this reason, having a trusted handyman who can take and handle complaints or concerns from new tenants not only can save you time and money, but also helps to make your new tenants feel important and valued. When your tenants know their concerns will be addressed whether you are available or not, they will appreciate knowing their voices will be heard.
Have An Open Door Policy
One of the great things about email and internet based communications is the opportunity to take your time to read through the various messages you will receive rather than the sense of urgency that can come from phone or face-to-face contact. Be sure to let your new tenants know they can email you any time with questions, concerns, or requests and you will respond as soon as possible. This helps them to feel secure in knowing they can communicate with you anytime they wish and you will respond when able.
Communication is key to just about everything. The trick is to know how and when to communicate. When you provide different ways to communicate as well as establish guidelines, boundaries, and stay responsive, your tenants are sure to feel secure, valued, and appreciated. This is an important aspect of retaining good, quality tenants for the long-term.