In preparation for the 132 incoming Residential Tenancy Laws, I have prepared a very simple list of the best tips for managing your tenants, which we have used throughout our Property Management and Real Estate industry experience.
Managing your investment yourself: Yes OR No?
Managing your investment yourself can be a cost-effective way to invest in property, however, you’ll have a lot on your plate if you decide to manage your property on your own, without any assistance. You might think it will save you money, but it can become quite a headache later down the track.
This is especially the case when dealing with bad tenants, we all know that simply paying the rent does not mean you are a reliable tenant anymore. It’s not uncommon to accept tenants that will find new ways to create issues out of nowhere. A bad tenant can cause abnormal amounts of wear and tear throughout your property, install fittings without consent and make it tough for you to access the property, even with a reasonable amount of notice.
This happened to a client of mine who initially preferred taking the option to save money by managing his own property, the tenants would not return his calls and simply refused to pay the rent, when maintenance issues appeared, at first they reported the requests, then made it hard to access. Note: always keep a spare set of keys within reach.
So, what are your options if a tenant starts causing trouble?
1. Maintain Communication
Always ensure that you communicate with your tenant. You don’t want to ignore their requests and you want to be reasonable with your responses. If you do not have the money to install a second split system within the property and they have requested this, notify them that you are not in a financial position at the time and you will come up with a plan to ensure that this is completed (of course, if necessary) later down the track.
This is why the first step in resolving any issue is to sit down and talk to your tenant in a constructive manner. You need to know how to placate them. Confrontation is never easy, but unfortunately, this must be done in a pleasant manner.
In many cases, the best way to do this is to hear them out and say you understand their request or complaint. Immediate action is not required unless the problem is urgent. All it takes is showing that you care about their problem and letting them know you’ll deal with it within a certain time-frame and they will generally understand. Of course, you’ll want to keep your word if this is the case and continually communicate.
2. Remove Emotion from the Situation
When dealing with unhappy tenants, it’s all too easy to grow hot-headed and get into an argument, which is a major issue with many Property Managers. You should avoid this at all costs and ensure that there is no emotion from the landlord/agent’s end of the communication.
3. Hire a Good (AND RESPONSIVE) Property Manager
Despite your best efforts, you might not be able to resolve all the issues that come your way. Managing tenants can be quite a challenge, especially when they keep coming to you with more and more complaints. This often isn’t a one-person job and requires time retrieving quotes and actioning tradespeople to attend to the property.
A good Property Manager can assist you to resolve issues in a constructive manner that works out for both parties involved. Better yet, they can proactively make sure you avoid issues by thoroughly selecting the very first tenants.
Many of our clients are currently doubting property investment and are very hesitant to purchase an investment due to this. New laws have pushed investors to feel threatened by the tenant in their properties, however, maintaining a good relationship is the easiest way to keep your tenant loyal, faithful and patient to you as the landlord.
4. Work with the Tenant on a Plan of Action
Give yourself and the tenant a chance to create a fair outcome that benefits both sides. Without a clear plan of action and no trust, one of you is very likely to suffer.
For example, let’s say the tenant complains about the performance of your appliances. To keep the tenant happy, your first reaction might be to replace the appliances. But this can cost you a lot of money and time, and may not be worth it. Worse yet, it opens the door for your tenant to push you around and demand other improvements, necessary or not.
Instead of doing this, you might offer to test the equipment for your tenant. If the appliances are found to be faulty, then you have no choice.
If this is the case, try replacing only the appliances that do not perform up to standard. Let the tenant know that the others are still in working order so there’s no reason to replace them.
This shows your tenant that you are willing to help them without letting them take advantage of you. Again, it comes down to communication between yourself and the tenant.
5. Have a Written Complaint Policy
Some tenants may understand, others may find it hard to cooperate with you. Despite your best efforts, reasonable communication might not get you so far. This is when you should implement a complaint policy and seek further advice.
This can be any formalised system that specifies reasonable versus unreasonable complaints. It can be as simple as a piece of paper explaining what complaints you’ll take into consideration.
At Collings Real Estate, we provide all tenants with a system to send requests to, which you can view at the exact same moment the Property Manager is able to do so. We find this is a super-easy way to provide the landlord with an understanding of the issue, as a photograph is required.
This will give your tenant clarity as they are able to view live updates on the status of the request, quoting, actioned, approved, and so on. Therefore tenants know how to address any issues with the property. It provides both parties simplicity and removes many headaches in the future.
Create a Win-Win Outcome
Whenever you’re working with people, you need to make sure that both sides benefit from the relationship. Dealing with tenants is no different. You should never treat them as if they are not a priority. On the other hand, you shouldn’t simply obey their commands.
We’ve assisted many investors to resolve issues with unhappy tenants. Please feel free to contact our Property Management team and we will find a resolution, no matter what the issue may be.