There are a lot of difficulties that arise when working as a landlord, particularly if you’re newer to the field and don’t have experience enough to give you confidence in your work. You may also lack experience when interacting with tenants, which can cause big problems if a conflict arises that needs to be addressed by you. Remember that your tenants are only people, that you have a responsibility to honesty, and then take a look at some of these tips to help with your troublesome conversations.
Take the Drama out of Interacting with Tenants
Confrontation can be difficult enough with easygoing tenants, but if you have some renters who are more prone to argument, the thought of talking to them about problematic behaviors may worry you. For example, if they are late on the rent, you may fall back on sympathy and the benefit of the doubt and give them a break from a late fee or an extension on the payment. However, this may lead to their taking advantage of you later on, particularly if you give them a break more often than not. It’s all right to be a little lenient, but not in a way that jeopardizes your business and weakens your position in the eyes of your renters as you’re interacting with tenants.
If your role is that of a manager who lives in the building, then there is a strategy that may work for you. That is, you can try a “good cop, bad cop” approach if you are the live-in and there is another manager or owner who lives off-site. It may sound strange at first, but consider the following and then decide whether or not this may work for you.
Your renter asks something of you that you simply can’t give them without it affecting you (and your work/business) in a negative way. In many situations like this outside of the property management world, this is where you would say “I can’t; (x person) won’t let me.” That is, you pass on the blame, shrug, state that it simply isn’t in your power. In this professional setting, it means you’re demonstrating that such an allowance isn’t allowed because of rules set by a ‘higher power,’ AKA that off-site manager or owner. If they are the ones in charge of making the hard calls, your tenant can’t rightfully be angry with you about the decision to, for example, deny them an extension on rent. There may still be an unpleasant discussion, but they will (eventually) come to see that it’s out of your hands.
What if you slip and just say ‘no’ flat-out without redirecting their attentions to another person who may be responsible for the call? The tenant may move on to that other person, the ‘higher power’ position, and then you’ll likely be undermined and made to look much less important. Once you lose the respect of your renters, it’s difficult to gain it back again, so try to aim for reasonable reactions while diverting responsibility as needed to remind tenants of who is really making the final calls that they’re unhappy with.
Of course, if you are primarily responsible because you are the owner or the sole manager, then you need another direction. In this case, you need to begin with an understanding that things will be uncomfortable more often than they are not. You aren’t supposed to be friends with your tenants (though you should be friendly); you’re a businessperson and they are your clients. Establish a relationship of professionalism and honesty as much as you can, but don’t act, or encourage, as if you’re all part of a big group of family members. Because of this, it’s crucial to set boundaries, to ensure that they aren’t treating you like a best friend or therapist and that you don’t consider them anything except a client (albeit a valuable one). The relationship needs to be built upon respect, and most importantly, a mutual understanding of everything involved, particularly the legal bits and details.
The way to begin any work relationship is to clearly lay out your expectations for your customers (renters) and to make sure that you know what they want from you, too. If they express unrealistic or impossible expectations, make it known immediately why they aren’t feasible and, if possible, suggest compromises or alternates that may mollify them.
Particularly if you’re a building owner who also works alone as a manager, you may often wish that you had someone on your side. Anton Systems provides residential property management solutions for the people who need it most. Our powerful software options streamline your entire work process to help you juggle all of the tenant and building information that you have. No two renters are the same, and we don’t believe that your experience as a landlord is exactly the same as another’s, either; that’s why we customize your experience and provide it tailor-made to your needs, and your needs alone. Chat with one of our experts to get started and to lessen the difficulty as you’re interacting with tenants today.