By Georgie Asfoura, Founder and CEO
Anyone who works directly with tenants in rental properties has to be skilled with relationships. Earlier this week, I sat down with tenants occupying a rental property to discuss expectations about rent payments, house rules, etc. Those conversations always call for striking a careful balance between relationship-building and discussing sensitive topics. Reaching agreement on the lease provisions is one, obvious goal of those meetings, but there is another, more subtle goal: communicate your management style. Property managers, landlords, or investor-owners can use lease conversations to make themselves approachable to their tenants.
If an appliance breaks or a basement flood creates unsafe conditions, tenants need to feel comfortable asking for assistance. An unwelcoming demeanor from the property manager, though, deters tenants from communicating about problems. Unreported small issues, left untreated, often resurface later as bigger issues. Repair costs at that later point will likely cost more than they would if they had been timely addressed.
How does a property manager, landlord, or investor-owner communicate approachability to tenants?
Be willing to collaborate. No one appreciates being told “Here’s how we are going to do things, and you don’t get any say in the matter.” Instead, a savvy rental owner knows how to solicit engagement from tenants that fosters collaboration. For example, a rental owner intending to make renovations to a tenant occupied property must first determine the scope of those renovations. After completing the appropriate budget diligence, the rental owner should consider posing the question to the tenants:
If you could make one improvement to your home, what would you prioritize?
This inquiry can produce so many positive results. Rental managers who pose this question show that they are interested in learning the tenant’s perspective about the most valuable amenity to add (or repair to make). Soliciting feedback on tenant priorities also communicates that their input matters. Asking for these kind of opinions showcases a rental manager’s approachability and helps finalize the scope of renovations.
Sometimes tenant responses help surface issues that may have gone unnoticed during walkthrough inspections. Tenants usually know the space better than property owners or landlords; I have personally learned about latent electrical outlet and A/C issues from tenant responses to the question about improvements they would prioritize. Shifting the scope of renovations to include reasonable requests by tenants improves the property value and the tenant’s level of care. Tenants are more likely to care for a newly renovated bathroom if they requested it.
Individuals who manage rentals and deal directly with tenants should strive to make themselves approachable to tenants. One way to improve approachability is to collaborate with tenants on planning a scope of repairs/renovations. Soliciting the tenant perspective on which repair or renovation should be prioritized is one effective strategy for improving the rental manager’s approachability.
Georgie Asfoura is the Founder and CEO at Georgette Properties, LLC, a real estate investment firm that creates opportunities for individuals to invest in value-add properties in central Ohio. Learn more about their projects by visiting their website (georgetteproperties.com) or following @georgette_properties on Instagram or Facebook.