How to Effectively Begin a Landlord Tenant Relationship

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One of the most important components to being a successful landlord is forming solid business relationships with your tenants. A solid landlord/tenant relationship consists of both sides respecting one another and appreciating what each of you is bringing to the partnership.

The key is following through on your end of the relationship: a landlord who shows they respect and care for the tenants by being accountable and responsive to maintenance requests; tenants who pay on-time and continuously work towards leaving the property better than they found it. It is important to avoid letting a sense of entitlement seep into the relationship on either side as it can cause offense and crumble this relationship.

Check out our guide to finding the right tenant.

Getting off on the right foot with your tenants early on will set the pace of the relationship for the life of the lease. There are several benefits to being more than a faceless person that collects rent payments.

Fostering a relationship with your tenants is beneficial because:

  • Tenants that have good relationships with their landlords are more likely to take care of the property.
  • Trusting relationships are better for business.
  • Open communication can help you be proactive.
  • If they feel comfortable in your place, there is a higher likelihood they will renew their lease and reside in your property longer.

Keep things “business friendly” to avoid letting the relationship become too personal. Building a landlord tenant relationship that is built on mutual respect can benefit any landlord.

Renters that “like” their landlords because they have a good working relationship are far more likely to take care of the property. Tenants that feel uncomfortable or disconnected from their landlords are less likely to notify them of any issues. Having open communication with your tenants so they feel comfortable to call and tell you if there is an issue with your property can really pay off when it comes to minimizing damages. A strong relationship with your tenants also helps to ensure your rent is paid on time.

Set The Mood

A good business relationship works best when established from the beginning. You want to be friendly and approachable but always responsible and consistent. This is your business, and your tenants are essentially your customers. Even if your tenants are not particularly nice or professional towards you, it is recommended that you remain professional and respectful, treating them the way you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed.

As the landlord, you can set the tone of the relationship by always being courteous, regardless of how trying the situation may be. Keeping that professional attitude can help you get through the tough spots that you may experience with your tenants. As with anyone, it is easy to be positive, cheery and agreeable when things are going well. The mark of great landlords and property managers is how successfully they navigate through challenging situations.

Be Upfront

If there is a problem with the property, disclose it at the beginning. State it before the lease is signed and advise as to a solution. Only make promises on which you intend on following through. If there is a problem, do your best to rectify the issue in a timely fashion, and be transparent with the steps you will take to improve the situation. Err on the side of over communication versus under communicating.

Treat your expectations similarly; make it clear to your tenants what you expect from them while they live in your property. Clear expectations eliminates confusion and avoids mishaps. Depending on local city ordinances, owners may be explicitly required by law to maintain aspects of the properties.

For instance, in Chicago it is the responsibility of both the owners and the tenants to remove snow and ice on public areas, with fines awaiting offenders. Consult your local ordinance to ensure compliance.

Strong Listening Skills

Listen to what your tenants want or need from you and do your best to meet the expectations within reason. Good landlords seek to answer, “Yes!” to any reasonable request, and people respect someone that pays attention to them and tries to meet their needs. Renters also appreciate a landlord’s willingness to discuss the reason why the request cannot be met — honesty can go a long way.

Accurate Record-Keeping

Clear and accurate record-keeping protects a landlord/tenant relationship from “he said she said” arguments. A strong document trail protects both you and your tenants, from the lease to emails back and forth throughout the lease period. This will clearly display your professionalism and organization which ultimately increases trust.

Respect Privacy

It is not okay to just pop in on your tenants unless there is an emergency. Give adequate notice for every situation, especially repairs or maintenance. Work with tenants to ensure they are able to develop a workaround in the event a major utility like water or electricity must be interrupted.

For top-notch customer service, send emails in lieu of calls or text conversations or send emails to recap calls or text conversations. This allow for a paper trail, allowing you and your tenant to review as needed. In some cases, you are also affording them the convenience of choosing response time. Another smart move is to follow-up on all communications within 24 hours. Always remember: the E in email also stands for Evidence.

People Skills

It is important that you are authoritative but within limits; you also want to seem accommodating and willing to willing to compromise and work with your tenants. It will help to build a healthy, collaborative relationship. Most tenants will appreciate your efforts and respond in kind. Other tenants will be difficult to work with but this is your business and you do have to take the bad with the good and not let emotion ever become part of the equation.

While these steps seem simple enough to deploy, they are all vital steps in forming a strong, effective relationship that will benefit the success of your investment. Of course, you should be available and keep up your end of the deal. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.

The key to effectively building a strong landlord/tenant relationship largely lies on your shoulders. Take this part of your responsibility seriously and you will be rewarded with loyal, longterm tenants that will maintain your property like it is their own. If you are enjoying respectful, courteous tenants who pay on time and stay for three or more years, then you’re doing great!



Speak with Anthony Zammitt, managing broker of Lofty Real Estate to find out how Lofty can supercharge your investment.