Busy schedules, multiple priorities, dual professions, even double lives: life can get pretty complex for the modern landlord. Consequently, it is all too easy to lose sight of the foundations on which you should build your property business – however small or large it may be.
To build a pipeline of business, to retain quality tenants and to grow a professional local (or national) reputation as a landlord, you first need to put yourself in the shoes of prospective tenants and think from their point of view.
Quality tenants who will make their payments reliably, report problems responsibly and take the best care of your property that they can, are looking for a well laid-out, well maintained property for sure, but they are also looking for a calibre of landlord who matches their own standards and expectations.
How a landlord presents him or herself, how they project their personality and professional standards will make all the difference to the kind of tenant you want to attract to your property. As such, it is always a good idea for the conscientious landlord to keep a checklist of the qualities that tenants look for and then have that percolate through every facet of your service that you then offer.
Here is that checklist:
1. Safety Consciousness
Let’s start with the most crucial – the bedrock of good landlord service: safety consciousness. It is a vital legal requirement after all. Do not skimp here.
Be clear to the tenants from the get-go how you maintain gas and electrical installations, what form of heating the house uses and how to properly manage it and maintain it in safety.
Have Gas Safety Certificates ready to show and leave a visible record somewhere in the property of the due date for the next check. You should show the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector on viewing and demonstrate that they function adequately. Be clear about how to test the alarms, where the instruction pamphlets are (keep a copy for yourself too) and when you will next check them yourself. This also applies to locks and burglar alarms too.
Show that you are extremely safety conscious, that you follow the legal requirements to the letter – but that you also care about their personal safety too.
Tenants want to feel assured that their landlord is always contactable and attentive to their needs. Show how committed and motivated you are by supplying the tenants with different types of contact: mobile and house/office numbers, email and now maybe even social media details – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Modern tenants may well expect this as a given now. I know my own tenants do and regularly contact me via Facebook and LinkedIn.
Explain your preferred method of communication clearly and also do not forget to provide an alternative emergency contact in the event that you really are not available.
High quality tenants will appreciate a landlord who is fair-minded, someone who can balance their personal priorities regarding the property and everything that revolves around it, with the fact that tenants probably have equally busy lives and are juggling multiple priorities too.
So many landlords, from a previously bad experience or not, often make the mistake of treating their tenants as people who will inflict damage upon their properties without allowing them the chance to disprove that.
A good mantra is this: operate without prejudice but with due diligence. Put more simply: be firm but be fair.
Like any walk of life, experience in landlord issues is vital and will be positively received by the tenants.
If you can show you have a record of delivering an excellent level of service to your tenants and have a trunk of positive testimonials from previous tenants to demonstrate this, you are very well placed indeed.
You can also use this as marketing collateral for your website or for the syndicated ads on the key property sites. Experience counts: so use it.
Linked to this idea of demonstrating and promoting your experience is the idea of proving how reliable you are. Explain at the outset how you respond to simple plumbing and electrical work, carpentry or boiler maintenance, what time-frames the tenants can expect, who else you use for tasks like these and why you use them in particular.
If you use a one-stop shop property maintenance outfit for emergency repairs and the like, explain why and give prior examples of their work. Tenants want to know that they don’t really have to worry about anything and that, in the event of an emergency, there is a clear and mutually agreed plan of action in place.
6. Good Communication
A great landlord will strike a clever balance between the warm and the personable; the professional and the efficient.
A great landlord will let that idea permeate every piece of communication that they have with their tenants whether it be a simple courtesy check-up call (advisable), a contractual notice, an organised property inspection or a maintenance project.
A good landlord will also know how to correctly record all necessary communications, make the tenants aware that they are doing so, and also use the correct means for each type of communication. Even better – ask the tenants how they prefer to be contacted.
Tenants will also sit up and take notice when a landlord consistently delivers on their promises.
Moreover, like good account management in any business, a little under-promising and a little over-delivering goes a long way to fostering good relations.
So landlords who say they will replace any damaged furniture or fittings, or get that bit of painting done, and then do exactly that promptly, with minimum fuss and with great levels of communication, tend to enjoy much more positive and long-lasting tenancies.
We all need our privacy. The key principle for landlords to bear in mind is that, though you own the property, for the extent of the agreed rental period, the property is the tenant’s home and not yours.
As such, organise visits with due notice, check and re-confirm. Similarly, when organising the undertaking of maintenance projects, be respectful and organise it around the tenant’s schedules.
During the initial stages of negotiation between tenant and landlord, though it is obviously in the interests of the landlord to negotiate carefully, it can also be a good idea to show the tenant that you are an open-minded human being who is open to some suggestions and are will to be flexible in some respects.
Being willing to find a compromise to achieve an agreement to which both parties benefit, builds the tenant’s trust and confidence.
Finally, demonstrating an expertise, an astute awareness of the applicable laws and government regulations which concern the tenant-landlord relationship, gives the right impression and establishes the right level of professionalism (even if you are only a part-time landlord).
Amazingly, many landlords neglect to have a formal written lease or rental agreement properly drafted and verified legally. This document, how it is worded and how it is presented, is a symbol of your professionalism and how the tenant sees you. It is the document they keep with them to refer to throughout the duration of the tenancy.
Present this properly, professionally and with a means to keep the document safe, and the tenant will know you mean business.