Canada's Property Management Podcast

Five Tips for Establishing Positive Landlord-Tenant Relationships

October 24, 2021 Carla Browne & Adrian Schulz Season 1 Episode 6
Canada's Property Management Podcast
Five Tips for Establishing Positive Landlord-Tenant Relationships
Show Notes Transcript

One of the simplest things a landlord can do to foster a positive relationship with residents and tenants is make a genuine effort to communicate. The following concepts can help establish this level of healthy communication.

Announcer:

Welcome to Canada's Property Management podcast. Your number one resource for investing, managing, and maximizing the value of your real estate assets. And now here's your hosts, Carla Browne and Adrian Schulz. Canada's rental property experts.

Adrian Schulz:

Hi, today we're talking about five tips for establishing positive landlord and tenant relationships. Before we get into this one, I have never been a huge fan of the word tenant. To me, it's a resident. How do you feel about that?

Carla Browne:

Yeah. Oh, I'm so glad that you said that because we've really tried to change the verbiage in our office from tenant to resident, but not everyone gets it. And even landlord. You know what? I'm going to go there as well. You're not a landlord. You're an investor. You are an investor that we work with.

Adrian Schulz:

Right.

Carla Browne:

So I really try as hard as we can to be changing that from investor resident relationship and for us it's an investor, management, resident relationship. Right. Because there's all three of us in there now, but you're right.

Adrian Schulz:

We're the manager for the investor.

Carla Browne:

Yeah.

Adrian Schulz:

Right?

Carla Browne:

Yeah.

Adrian Schulz:

We are the property manager for the investor, not the rental owner.

Carla Browne:

Exactly.

Adrian Schulz:

Yeah.

Carla Browne:

The tenants, that just sounds like... Do you know where that word even came from?

Adrian Schulz:

No, I don't. All I know is I don't like it. And-

Carla Browne:

I'm with you.

Adrian Schulz:

In a hotel, you're a guest. And I think in an investment property, you are a resident. And our job on behalf of the investor of that property is to assure that we have a positive resident and management relationship. Right. And we act on behalf of the investor. So terminology repaired, resident.

Carla Browne:

There we go. Goodbye tenant.

Adrian Schulz:

Yeah. Well, not goodbye. Please stay. But from now on we refer to you as a resident.

Carla Browne:

Just the word, just the word.

Adrian Schulz:

Just the word. So five tips. I think number one, this is an obvious one. And we talked about it in a prior episode and that is first impressions count. What is that to you?

Carla Browne:

That is getting back to somebody when they have inquired or have any kind of a question. It is all about response time and the quicker you can respond back, the better, which is why self landlords or self-managed landlords sometimes get frustrated because they might be at their day job, their profession for that day. And then now it's the end of the day. And they're getting back to the inquiries that have come in and they're wondering why they're not making any headway. You have to respond as soon as possible. Make them feel important. They are important. These are people you're going to be placing in your house.

Adrian Schulz:

I think as much as we want to and do personalized communication with residents, it is also important to have some automation set up that can help to improve that relationship. And the most easiest always I think is in your email autoresponder to a resident, the top three things people inquire about give them immediate access to solutions or self help. Right. And I know what I always like is if you have an emergency, click here for the procedure. If you're calling to make a rent payment, click here. If you have a non-emergency maintenance request, you may submit it here. Right? Give them the tools in case you can't phone them immediately.

Carla Browne:

Mm-hmm (affirmative) No. And by getting back to somebody it's not always phone. It's normally electronically. So having some of those auto responders or automatic responses back that just says to them, oh yeah, they got it. They have acknowledged me. I'm important. So that's the message that you're sending, even though it isn't a personalized message specific to whatever their inquiry is. So those are easy things you can set up so that you can get back to them and have longer personalized email or answer their specific question if you need to. But you're right. Residents usually have top three inquiries. And if you can answer those right off the bat, then they're really happy because now you've solved whatever their problem was.

Adrian Schulz:

Now, you cannot have a positive relationship unless you have properly screened your tenants. So at minimum, how should a property manager or pretty investor screen residents?

Carla Browne:

Yeah, we've got four key things and it's really important because human rights plays into this. So people need to be aware of these little rules that are out there that they fall into. So if you're going to be screening those residents, then you want to make sure that you're consistent with every person that you are screening. So if you are ever challenged with human rights, you can back that up. So just a little tip there. A pro tip I'll call that one. The screening process. You want to screen for past history. So you want to screen their previous landlords. You want to know how they acted before. Past behavior predicts future behavior. It's a given. Then you want to also now screen for income. How are they paying for this? Can they afford to be in this property? Credit, you want to know again, how have they been treating that in the past? This is going to play an important part.

Carla Browne:

And that's a whole other episode for us about how we can impact residents' credit positively as well. Don't forget that we need to mark that down as a topic, Adrian. And then I always say the last one is that gut check. You're going to know. When you've been in it as long as we have, Adrian, you know when you're talking to somebody that they are giving you the goods. And what I mean by that is they're not just telling you a story. I can't tell you how many times people have come to me, investors, and said they seemed so nice. Yeah.

Adrian Schulz:

Yeah.

Carla Browne:

That's usually not the case. Ask some questions. Ask some questions there to find out what happened in the past. So we have all kinds of screening tips that we could go on for a whole length of time, but I don't want to take that up. Because that's only number two in your tips for positive relationship building. But screening's really important.

Adrian Schulz:

Now when you're showing a vacant unit to a prospective resident, there's a neat opportunity to ask a couple of key questions to that prospective resident. Mark that down on your schedule showing notes. And that can be, oh, what do you do for a living? And where do you currently live? And then you go and reconcile those notes with the application. It self authenticates because if residents and most are forthcoming, they're going to be verbally and written the same. So it's an added way of screening a prospective tenant. So now we've walked through the vacant unit and we've screened the tenant. The next step and the next tip is to walk through the lease. You mean don't just send the lease and expect it to be signed?

Carla Browne:

Well, that is the easy way of doing it now isn't it? But walking through the lease or at least if you are sending it out electronically, which is very common nowadays, you want to be able to point out a few things that are important or questions that you normally get asked about. So you want to be able to point out things. How they're going to report their maintenance, how the move out process might look when they're going to move out, how they're going to pay their rent, all of these things that they might just skim by. And then afterwards, you're dealing with a negative conversation about now you're trying to explain something that they should have understood. And the answer when we talk to people, isn't well, you signed it because that's not going to solve the issue. You're going to have to hear them out on that. So you may as well be up front and talk about some of those key questions that you get asked.

Adrian Schulz:

And there are ways to automate that. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're sitting down with them.

Carla Browne:

Yeah.

Adrian Schulz:

You can walk through a template lease, template property rules, a template move out process through doing a recorded screen share, right? And just recording. This is your lease. This is your move out process. These are your property rules and go through them on a screen share record and send them the link, right? And now that walk through has become a five minute automated process. And it's transparent because they always have access to that recording. Right?

Carla Browne:

And isn't that funner? Isn't that a funner way to do it than to think that they're going to be reading all of this drab text that you send. We get way too much stuff to read. What does your inbox look like today, Adrian? There's way too much there. So if you can make this different, fun, interactive to some degree, they're much more apt to go through it and it'll make sense. And there's a lot of people that are way more visual. They need that video over just the text to read. We skim, I think

Adrian Schulz:

We expect our residents to take care of their home, but what we expect from our residents, they also expect from us in us taking care of their property. And I know traditionally we'd say to take care of our property that we are managing or the investor, it's my property that I am managing. But you know what? When someone is living in that home and it is a home, they're a resident in that home. I also think we have to have the posture or the position of taking care of their property because while they are the ones renting it, it is in some ways their property. It's their home. Right? So taking care of a property, what is that to you?

Carla Browne:

Yeah. The preventative maintenance over day to day things that might happen. So you want a resident to keep the house clean, to maybe look after of the yard if they're in a single family home, but you want them to let you know if anything else goes wrong. And you want to respond in a positive manner even if it's something little. We had a resident once come to us and say the door is really sticking. It was so minor, right? And the owner's like, well, that door is always stuck. I'm not fixing that. And we said, no, you know what? We are going to fix that because that is making a big impact for them. They didn't have doors sticking in their other units. So some of the things that didn't bother an investor, an owner, if they own or occupy that property might bother the tenant.

Carla Browne:

So sometimes just the littlest little thing can be fixed and just increases that experience. But you wouldn't live in a house all year and not do any kind of preventative maintenance or routine maintenance. So an investor has to be prepared to also be doing those things and I call it protecting your asset. How can I protect your asset if I don't go in and do some of the things that need to be down on an ongoing basis? Residents decided to make a choice to rent, which is really what it's about now in Canada. It's not because they had to rent. It's a choice to rent and they chose to rent because they didn't want to have to deal with all of those things. So it is really important for investors to understand. They need to have a budget set aside that is to deal with an ongoing maintenance. And then whether you are self-managing or professional manage, you need to respond back to the tenant when they have these requests. Not that we give them everything they want, but something so minor as fixing a sticking door, that could make their day.

Adrian Schulz:

Yeah, totally. Especially if you're like me and you have a new baby at home, you do not want a squeaking stuck door because that could wake the baby.

Carla Browne:

That was the case, Adrian. That was the case.

Adrian Schulz:

No doubt. No doubt.

Carla Browne:

They said we have small children. I don't want that to be waking them. And they also thought when the child was closing the door, that they might be hurting it by adding any extra force to it.

Adrian Schulz:

Yeah. We have wood floors at home and we live in a home that's probably 40 years old. So sometimes when I'm walking around the baby's room, I was tiptoeing because the floor was squeaking, right. Wood floor. So my wife and I would say, my wife is probably a lot smarter than I am, she said, why don't we just put down a carpet runner? Our problem has been resolved. And on that note, resolving disputes, number five. When your resident has an issue, do not let it go undealt with. Give us more on that, Carla.

Carla Browne:

Yeah. It goes back to the communication. Sometimes residents just need to be heard and just like any kind of a communication issue that might arise, we don't know what went on in that other individual's life that day, that week, that month, that this could have just been the straw that broke the camel's back, that now they're talking to you, they're venting and it seems minor in your mind, but it's not minor to them. So first of all, just let them vent and then have a response and try to figure out if there's some common ground there, which I will say 99% of the time, there is. The last thing you could do is not respond to it. That will not help you out long term at all. You need to try to find a way to talk to them. And sometimes we need to realize that that $100 might mean more to them in the end, then what it's going to mean to us.

Carla Browne:

So sometimes we need to let the principles go because people get hung up on that. It's like, well, it's the principle of what's happening here? You know what? It's not. It's about, if you need to get over this, you might just need to say, you know what? Let's just move on. You can keep that $100 or I'll pay you the $100 and then it's done with. There could be a lot more negative repercussions by holding your ground for you, where especially in the world of social media and Google reviews, things like that, they all come into play and they could be saying things that you don't want said in those formats.

Adrian Schulz:

Real estate investments are long term. So should be your landlord and resident relationships. Now that's real property management.

Announcer:

Thanks for listening to Canada's Property Management podcast. If you like this episode, please subscribe and give us a rating which will help us reach more listeners. Until next time, connect with us on social media and online at realpm.ca.