If you're new to the world of property management, it's only natural to wonder, "What makes a great landlord?" The fact that you're even thinking about that question is a sign that you're off to a good start. Here are some tips to become the best landlord you can be.
First, let's examine what not to do. “Bad landlords” are defined by their communication strategies: either they are constantly pestering tenants, or they're impossible to reach.
It's hard to strike the right balance; you want your tenants to feel comfortable and "at home" in your property--it should feel, mostly, like their home.
Be Their Bartender
Imagine you're out at a busy bar and you're fortunate enough to have a great bartender. Watch how they behave--they're attentive and quick to notice thirsty customers, but don't overstay their welcome or focus their attention on one specific group to the dismay and annoyance of others.
Be like the bartender! Don't encroach on your tenant's space (or time), but be receptive and quick to act any time you're needed.
Documentation Documentation Documentation
Issues always arise when people receive unexpected charges. Your lease should make very clear any extra fees that your tenants might be charged--for whatever reason. If you don't put it in writing, it's hard to get the law on your side, and even harder to keep tenants happy.
One of the primary complaints made by unhappy tenants is that their landlord ignores household problems and maintenance issues for days, weeks, or even months. While repairs can be tricky (not to mention expensive), it's essential to keep all major appliances running and to act quickly in the event of leaks, heating/cooling system problems, and indeed any of the myriad issues that might come up with your property.
Transparency about potential issues like mold, plumbing issues, and other issues is also of paramount importance if you want to become a great landlord. Think about maintenance as your primary form of "customer service": your tenants satisfaction and continued patronage is largely based on your attentiveness to their needs.
Please, Be Reasonable!
Those new to property management might be overwhelmed at the level of "normal wear and tear" they're expected to accept. Sure, it's important to protect your investment, but it's also important to understand that things break, carpets wear out, and other small problems occur frequently.
Things to Take Away
While we haven't exhausted the list of "great landlord traits," the above recommendations will take you a long way in building and maintaining a relationship with your tenants.
Always remember that, ultimately, what's good for your tenants is good for you. Take a stand and intervene when you need to, but do your best to provide a "laissez-faire" (hands-off) arrangement as often as you can.