The mark of a successful property owner doesn’t end with handling your finances well and strategizing your investments. To run a profitable rental business, you should build positive relationships with your residents.
The tone of your interactions with them can influence their decision to report maintenance issues or even extend their leases. However, establishing effective communication with tenants is often a challenging feat. Your current set of renters may possess various personalities and attitudes that aren’t compatible with yours. As a result, conflict can quickly escalate when sensitive issues such as late rent payments, property damages, or inspections are brought to the table.
Overdue rent continues to be an issue for homeowners and residents as the country grapples with the pandemic’s effects. The Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) of Harvard University estimates that 15% of renters in America have fallen behind on their payments in the third quarter of 2021. With many of them still struggling to make ends meet, it’s essential that you put together temporary measures for delayed rent. This way, you’ll be able to keep your residents for as long as possible while ensuring the continued profitability of your business.
Some of the most common concerns of property management include renter violations, rent collection, property maintenance, and evictions. Most of these issues can sprout from the lack of good communication practices between property owners and renters.
In this article, we lay the groundwork for the best practices for improving tenant communication.
Understanding the Causes of Miscommunication
There may be instances where you and your renter fail to see eye-to-eye. Before pinning the blame on them, remember that communication is always a two-way street. Some of your behaviors may have led to a misunderstanding.
To avoid communication missteps, be wary of the following:
Lack of Transparency
Your residents have the right to know about any relevant updates or details that concern them and the property. Keeping them in the dark about important matters may make them feel that you’re withholding information from them. For instance, if you plan to raise your current rent prices, it’s best to inform your residents ahead of time. In Washington, California, and Colorado, you’re mandated by law to provide a notice 60 days advance notice if your rent increase is over 10%. These states also require a personal discussion or written notice before the increase is implemented.
A lack of honesty and straightforwardness can foster a sense of mistrust between you and your renters. If left unresolved, this issue can significantly affect your relationship in the long run.
One of the critical components of healthy communication is respect. Most renters will prefer to limit how much you can interfere with their personal lives. If you’re constantly showing up at their homes unannounced, you may be crossing a line and offending them.
It’s also important to remember that most state laws indicate that you cannot enter your resident’s property any time you wish. Unless there’s an emergency, you’ll still need to inform them at least 24 hours before your scheduled visit.
Prompt responses to a renter’s inquiries or concerns show that you are attentive to their needs. If they struggle to obtain an answer from you when they need it, you’re showing them that your communication lines aren’t open. As a result, they may not be comfortable keeping you in the loop about more urgent concerns.
When left unattended, these issues result in conflict that may cost you a vacancy. Employing effective communication practices may prevent these mistakes from hampering your connection with your renters.
Improving Owner-Resident Relationships
Efficient communication goes beyond just keeping in touch with your residents. If you interact way too much or little, you could still miss the mark. Here, it’s essential to strike a balance and communicate with renters through channels that suit the types of messages you’d like to get across.
Below we discuss how you can improve your communication skills and ensure that your business continues to run smoothly.
Learn the Art of Active Listening
Listening to what your renter has to say is as important as how you respond to them. When they’re discussing their concerns with you, it’s best to incorporate the principle of active listening.
Active listening is characterized by closely paying attention to what your resident is saying. By doing so, you will be able to validate their opinions by providing appropriate feedback. This practice shows that you possess genuine empathy and understanding for their struggles.
The Louisiana REALTORS® Association lists down a few recommendations on how you can sharpen your active listening skills for real estate transactions.
Take Advantage of Different Communication Channels
Renters will have varied preferences for how they would like you to communicate with them. So, it’s essential to choose the most appropriate channels suited to the type of messages you’re sending out.
In a 2019 study, Avail found that 48% of renter households reported texting as their preferred way of communicating with property owners. Other methods that they identified were emails, calls, and face-to-face discussions.
Remember that this data may not be the blueprint for your own set of renters. If some are elderly adults, it may be wise to avoid sending out urgent announcements through text.
Using different communication channels when dealing with a diverse group of renters ensures that you meet everyone’s needs. For instance, you can try sending out recurring reminders through text and email. Meanwhile, you can opt to set up a phone call or meeting for more pressing concerns.
Set Practical Expectations
Establish realistic expectations for communication with your renters at the onset. At the beginning of their lease, make sure to schedule a meeting soon after to discuss the following details:
- Your designated office hours: Shortly after your new renters’ move-in day, it’s best to clarify when you’ll be available to respond to calls, texts, and emails immediately. You should also obtain their current contact information to ensure that you’ll be able to reach them when necessary.
- Scheduled maintenance visits: This conversation should also be an avenue to talk about how your residents feel about routine inspections. Here, you can ask them which days of the week are most convenient for them to participate in scheduled visits. Doing so ensures that you’ll remain compliant with rental property inspection laws.
- Rent payment dates: Complete details about rent dues and payment details should be outlined in the lease. For good measure, go over these details with your renter at the beginning of their stay. Discussing these crucial matters allows them to raise any questions they have that concern the grace period or late rent fees.
Talking about these seemingly minor details gives your renter an impression of the frequency of your interactions with them. Keeping them fully informed about how you intend to manage the property encourages transparency and trust.
Consider Working With a Property Manager
Communicating with your renters can be challenging, especially when discussions become emotionally charged. Remaining consistent with your communication habits while staying on top of other important tasks can be overwhelming to deal with independently.
Hiring a property manager can help you stay on top of these tedious tasks. Some have even taken things a step further by streamlining routine communications through technology. With the help of a tech-enabled property manager, you can automate maintenance requests and rent collection. This frees up much-needed time that you can spend getting in touch with your renters and building meaningful relationships with them.
During your resident’s lease, you’re bound to have several discussions with them. This is why you need to be mindful of how you communicate with your renters. Employing active listening, setting proper expectations, and making sure that your messages are expressed through the right channels ensures that each of your interactions remains professional and productive.