The relationship between landlords and their tenants is a tricky one that can go south fast if both sides aren’t careful. As a landlord, you generally want quiet, predictable tenants who won’t throw a ton of wild parties or pay their rent late. Tenants want a safe, clean dwelling that they can enjoy without a lot of interference. To find common ground, it may help to focus on making life easier for your tenants. The more you do that, the more likely it is that your tenants will respond in kind.
A lot has changed about the way people rent apartments. Nowadays, many landlords strongly prefer that rent is paid through an online portal, typically with an e-check that is drafted from a bank account. Depending on your location, though, landlords may also be required to offer an alternative method of payment. For most people, online payments tend to make things easier on both sides, as it requires less paperwork all around. The tenant no longer has to ask for a receipt, because now they get a message via email informing them that the rent for May is being processed.
If you’re allowing current tenants to pay the rent online, it also makes sense to allow a prospective tenant to complete an online rental application. The days of apartment hunting by cutting out listings from your local paper are long gone. Many people use Craigslist to search, but that’s not the only site available to showcase your building. By one estimate, more than 90 percent of people search online property listings first. There are some landlords who prefer to find renters simply through word of mouth among their social circle, but that’s a risky strategy to take unless you’re just renting out one room in your house and don’t mind waiting a while for the right situation. In most cases, landlords who aren’t actively renting are risking financial losses. Accepting online applications makes the screening process run more smoothly, and it also allows out-of-towners who are trying to move to your area to be on roughly the same footing as people who are already there.
Work with People
A little flexibility often goes a long way. People remember when someone is willing to work with them, and they really remember when someone absolutely refuses to budge no matter what. As an example, let’s take wall decor inside an apartment. It’s common for residents to want to make a home their own by mounting paintings or displaying a canvas printing of their wedding day. It’s also common for landlords to ban hanging things with nails because they hate seeing holes in the wall. Rather than suggest that people simply not hang anything on the wall, give them an alternative. Maybe that alternative is clear mounting tape; maybe it’s something else. The point is that you’re willing to allow people to feel like they truly live in a space. They don’t just pay the rent and sleep there a few hours every night.
It’s also nice to provide an explanation for why you’re doing something that the tenants may not like. Tenants typically know if they’re living in a hot rental market like Seattle. They know that landlords in those markets will raise the rent simply because the market will let them. If you can say, “We’re going to use the increased rent to keep the pool open longer,” then do that. That’s a lot better than saying, “We’re raising the rent because we can, but we’re not going to improve the service level at all.” The worst thing you can do is increase the rent while making the property less attractive.
Although it’s possible for tenants and landlords to have rocky relationships, if you approach your renters with respect and flexibility, it’s likely that they will offer you the same courtesy in return. With a little thoughtfulness you’ll be able to continue interacting in a way that’s pleasant for everyone!