Dealing with demanding tenants can be a challenging experience, but proper tenant screening remains the best way to avoid being in such situations entirely. Deciding on the right tenant is a key consideration when investing in residential real estate because you don’t want to exhaust your energy and other resources diffusing conflicts.
Unfortunately, the system isn’t perfect, and some less than optimal tenants might slip through the cracks and become an issue later. But before you make the hasty decision to evict your unruly renters, make sure you’ve used up all your other options. Read on to find out the best tips to communicate with demanding tenants.
1. Create clear ground rules
The best way to tackle a problem is by avoiding it entirely. You can reduce the risk of your tenants acting out of line by establishing clear ground rules for them to follow while living in your rental property. It might seem like a rigid course of action, especially if you’re the easy-going kind of landlord. But blurry lines leave room for misunderstanding and misconduct.
You could also save yourself a lot of hassle by attaching penalties to your rules, such as bearing the cost of repairs when they’re at fault or paying a stipulated late fee when they’re late with their rent. Remember to add such clauses to your lease so that they are legally binding.
2. Make yourself available
Do you reasonably expect your tenants to comply with the rules you set if you’re not reachable when they need you? Of course, your absence isn’t a reason to break guidelines. But if you make time for your tenants, it will encourage them to be as accommodating as possible.
While face-to-face interactions can help you foster a healthy landlord-tenant bond, that may not always be feasible. Besides, if your tenants belong to a younger generation like millennials or Gen Z, they might prefer online communication. Make the extra effort to be available on different platforms via calls, text, or emails. You could also create a digital form to lay their complaints, but remember to check it regularly.
3. Listen objectively
It’s easy to point the finger at blame, but introspection is also essential when dealing with your tenants. Communication is a two-way street, and you could also be at fault if you’re not properly listening to your tenants.
Being a landlord involves learning to exercise some patience, especially when dealing with terrible tenants. Remember that being a landlord requires some interpersonal skills with people of varying personalities. So rather than losing your temper with a hotheaded tenant, pause to evaluate the situation and understand their concerns. You should remain objective in your evaluation, ask yourself if your rules are too rigid or if the tenant’s reasons for not abiding are legitimate. You’ll find that if you listen attentively, you’ll reply in a calmer manner which can help diffuse the situation and reach an amicable solution.
4. Encourage an atmosphere of mutual respect
At the beginning of your landlord-tenancy, you need to establish a healthy relationship by treating your tenants how you would like them to treat you. Be reasonable in setting guidelines and policies for your rental property, and don’t waiver when enforcing them. Else, you risk developing a precedent where your tenants can walk over you without fear of consequence. When a tenant is late on their rent, follow up to find out why and try to be accommodating when you can. Being firm doesn’t mean you can’t be kind.
On the other side of the equation, stick to your word. If you tell a client you’ll fix an issue on Monday, do so and communicate when you can’t. If you show them that you value their concerns, speak and act quickly to resolve them, your tenants will treat you with the same respect.
5. Be meticulous in keeping records
One of the best ways to diffuse a conflict is facts, so endeavor to keep records of everything. This tip might seem burdensome to you, but it could save you a whole lot of time and trouble when dealing with a tenant who conveniently forgets or outrightly lies.
For example, you might agree to reduce their rent this month if they take care of some electrical work. But a week later, the tenant insists you agreed to reduce their rent by a different amount. Not everyone will exercise good faith, so put all agreements outside your lease in writing as well.
Also, during inspections, take photos and videos of the rental property with timestamps to avoid disputes over security deposit deductions.
It can be hard to remain professional with a problematic tenant, but you have to try your best to stay patient. Aim to create an atmosphere of mutual respect, with set rules and reasonable penalties. Make yourself available, and only resort to threats of eviction when necessary.
Of course, you can always bypass the hassle altogether if you let your property manager handle your tenants. Hiring a professional property management company is a great way to maximize your rental property’s profit without dealing with the burden of screening, communicating with, or evicting tenants.