5 Ways to Prevent Landlord-Tenant Conflicts

AMA9-17-13Just about everywhere in the country, landlord-tenant lawsuits are clogging – and backlogging – court dockets for issues small and large. The area of housing law boasts specialists in just these kinds of cases. The hot rental market is one of the key factors driving the housing recovery – but the often- adversarial relationship between landlords and tenants slows the momentum and costs time and money. Housing experts point out, though, that property owners could forestall some of these problems with a little foresight and courtesy.

Establish and Maintain a Professional Relationship
Landlords shouldn’t be the friend who collects the rent. Real estate professionals recommend building on the professional appearance an owner puts on to interview the tenant. Some housing experts suggest landlords refer to themselves, especially in writing, as “we” rather than “I” in order to emphasize the business aspect of the relationship.

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Be Specific About Expectations
As recent housing market reports show, the rental market is hot right now, so those well-screened ideal tenants have other options and other places to go. One way to keep them is to lay out all policies and expectations clearly from the outset – in writing. If there’s a pet deposit policy, it’s better to let tenants know when they rent, not when they get a dog. If there’s a need to raise the rent, it’s courteous and professional to end a notice well in advance.

Respond Promptly to Calls
Whether managing investment properties solo through a manager, landlord/tenant specialists say that it’s important to respond promptly and professionally to calls – not just for emergencies but in all situations. Offering alternative numbers as backup or other contact options can also help. Tenants faced with a landlord who won’t respond when they need it may find another who will.

Offer Bonuses and Incentives
Though it may not be possible or appropriate in every situation, landlord/tenant relation experts say that perks and incentives such as high speed internet service, early rent payment rewards and bemuses for referring other tenants can help make renters feel valued and keep landlords competitive. Even a bit of recognition such as a birthday or thank you card may help keep a tenant’s loyalty.

Give and Expect Respect
Tenants are people too – and respect and courtesy can keep them paying rent. Some housing experts suggest referring to renters as “residents” – a neutral term that softens the top down hierarchy of landlord/renter. Considerations such as giving advance notice of a need to enter the property – over and above that required by law – demonstrate courtesy, and offering help during the inconvenience of needed repairs can also demonstrate that renters are valued and respected.

Recent rental market studies reveal that renters are willing to pay more to get more. A landlord/investor willing to go that extra mile or so can get – and keep – the tenants that keep investments humming – on the way to building wealth with rental property as Jason Hartman recommends.  (Top image: Flickr/CatieRhodes)

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