Tips to help avoid conflict between buy-to-let landlords and their tenants
In one of our articles suggesting a few New Year’s resolutions for landlords, we discussed cementing the landlord/tenant relationship. A strategy we recommend is to document everything. In this article, you’ll learn more about this strategy – why it works and how to do it.
What does documenting everything mean?
Documenting everything starts with the tenancy agreement, but does not stop there. In fact, it is a process that only stops after your tenant has left. Even then, you should keep all the documentation that has passed between you.
So, what does documenting everything really mean? Let’s break it down:
- Documenting – putting in writing
- Everything – all communication between you and the tenant, including all verbal and nonverbal communication
Communication is key to a good landlord/tenant relationship
Just as with any other relationship, communication is key. You expect your tenant to contact you if there is a maintenance or repair issue, or if they have a short-term financial problem that means they will be a couple of days late paying their rent. They expect you to contact them about other issues, such as rent reviews or inspection requests (remember, you must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering your tenant’s home).
A two-way dialogue (whether verbally or in writing) helps to avoid misunderstanding, and also allows your tenant the opportunity to provide feedback. When you listen more, you learn more. You’ll learn about your tenant’s expectations and concerns, and you’ll be able to take action to avoid conflict that may lead to a costly void period.
However, talking is never enough. Always – always – summarise in writing what has been discussed and any agreements you have come to. Give your tenant the opportunity to reply. You’ll learn if there is still a difference of opinion and be able to smooth any cracks in the relationship before they appear.
Maintain trust by remaining honest
The best relationships are built on trust. If the tenant feels they can trust you, they are more likely to respond positively to requests. For example, if the tenant reports a leaking tap (which you want them to before it becomes a bigger problem, like a flooded bathroom) and you say it will be dealt with within 24 hours, then make sure it is.
Never make a promise you cannot keep, and keep your tenant informed of things that affect them.
Be easy to reach
One of the biggest gripes of tenants is that they find it difficult to get hold of their landlord. They leave messages which are never returned, and emails go unopened for days. Don’t be that landlord. Make yourself accessible. You are running a business and your tenant is your customer. A responsive landlord will find that tenant loyalty improves.
Maintaining a good relationship with your tenants is important for the long-term profitability of your buy-to-let business. You must be professional, and documenting everything is a key part of acting in a professional manner. It helps to maintain communication, enables your tenant to provide feedback, and helps to avoid misunderstandings that lead to conflict.
Live with passion,