We all come across them, the tenant who takes up way too much of your time, with what to us may seem very trivial matters, leaving umpteen voice mails, and texting you at 11pm because the door handle in the bedroom is loose!
In my experience these tenants are often very good tenants in that they take very good care of the property and always pay rent on time, but they can take up a lot of your time, and certainly put some ‘strains’ on your patience to say the least.
Here are a few wee tips which you may find helpful the next time you come across one of the more challenging tenants.
Put everything down in writing A demanding tenant can often be more empowered than other tenants so this is why it is so important to ensure you write everything down – kind of like hoping for the best, but being prepared for the worst. This way if the tenant decides that because you are not complying to their demands they will take you to the Tenancy Tribunal, you will be armed with evidence that in fact you have been complying as you are required as a landlord, and an email trail is always a very good way to remind them of the ‘actual’ events.
Always reply to messages Don’t ignore phone messages and texts that come in – this is the worst thing you can do. Instead reply to them as soon as you can and advise them what you will be doing in relation to their call / text.
Set clear boundaries When I sign up my tenants I always set the boundaries. This includes advising them what is deemed urgent maintenance, i.e. a dripping tap is not an emergency so I don’t need to know about it at 10pm on a Sunday night, however if there is water dripping from the ceiling, I certainly do! Another tip is to make them aware of where they can turn electricity and water off at the property in case something does happen. A private landlord could also benefit from advising the tenants of times that they can contact them (unless an emergency), your on call time so to speak.
Be a landlord not a friend This is one of the most common problems I hear about from private landlords. If you are in the friend zone with your tenants then that will only make saying no to them if they make unwarranted requests harder, and of course discourages them calling in any favours around late payment of rent.
Be empathetic Remember – your asset, is your tenants home, and a good tenant is one who thinks their home is a priority, I often say the pedantic tenants take the best care of a property. Reassure them that you understand their concerns, and give them a time frame that you will deal with the matter, and stick to it.
Get their buy-in If there is a long list of jobs they want done, ask them what is the most important, explain that you need time, and of course funds to be able to do non urgent maintenance. By letting them set the priority of jobs they will feel you are listening and taking their concerns seriously.
Charge market rent Because time if so precious, a time sucking tenant can become ‘time costly’. Make sure the rent you are getting from the tenant is adequately compensating you. You cannot of course inflate rent because a tenant asks for maintenance to be done, and you must keep your rents fair and at market price, however often I see rents far too low, and if you are spending too much time on the property, then you are in essence losing money.