Tenant happiness may seem like a very subjective measurement – and in some cases it is. But don’t let the subjectivity of your tenants’ satisfaction cause you to discount the importance of it. Keeping tenants happy is one of the single most important duties of a profitable landlord. And if you’re going to focus on improving one aspect of your real estate investing business, this may be it.
Why Happy Tenants Matter
Tenant happiness goes beyond giving people warm and fuzzy feelings. When we use the term, we’re describing a state of satisfaction that describes how they feel about both you and your property.
Satisfied tenants are far more likely to pay their rent on time, take care of your property, and stick around for longer periods. This leads to better cash flow, fewer maintenance requests, and (most importantly) lower turnover.
4 Tips for Greater Tenant Happiness
No two tenants are the same. Every individual has their own unique preferences, needs, and desires. Having said that, there are a few universal points of application that will allow you to enhance satisfaction across the board. Here are a few tips:
1. Nail the First Impression
Tenants are often instructed to master their first impression when meeting with a landlord for the first time. But it’s equally important that you pay attention to your own first impression. A good one can pave the way for a healthy relationship in the months and years to come.
When meeting a tenant for the very first time, smile, extend a strong handshake, and make eye contact. It’s also helpful to use the individual’s name at least a couple of times in the conversation. People are programmed to listen for their name and will feel respected when they hear it.
2. Perform Repairs Quickly
One of the biggest complaints tenants have against their landlords is a lack of urgency. They’ll present a maintenance issue – like a leaky toilet or malfunctioning door lock – and it takes the landlord several days or weeks to address the problem. This produces frustration and paves the way for resentment.
For starters, you should invest in preventative maintenance – not reactive maintenance. In other words, conduct proper inspections on a regular basis and then make proactive repairs based on systems or parts that are most likely to deteriorate in the near future.
Secondly, when an issue does occur, make it your biggest priority to listen to the tenant and address the issue. In many cases, the actual maintenance request isn’t as important as you showing your tenant that you’re listening. They want to know that you care. And you show you care by being quick to address their concerns. (If you’re worried that you can’t respond as quickly as you’d like, you’d be wise to hire a property manager to handle this aspect of the business on your behalf.)
3. Under Promise and Over Deliver
One of the best things you can do – whether it’s with a rental property or some other business you own – is to under-promise and over-deliver.
For example, let’s say your tenant has a broken AC unit in the middle of August and your technician can’t get out to the property for two days. Under promising would be telling the tenant that the AC technician can’t be there for three days. Then you show up with a window AC unit in several hours. Plus, the technician arrives in two days (which is one day less than you promised). Suddenly, you’ve taken a bad situation and over-delivered at every step. That makes for a happy tenant.
4. Treat Them Like People
At the end of the day, you have to rethink how you interact with your tenants. Are you treating them like people? Or are you treating them like paychecks?
It’s easy to unintentionally treat tenants as paychecks, which creates problems. Not only does it make them feel inferior, but it prevents you from offering the type of service that’s required to maintain long-term tenant relationships.
You don’t have to treat a tenant like they’re your best friend, but you should give them the same decency and respect that you’d give anyone else. They’re not perfect and they’ll make mistakes. Learn to extend leniency in some areas without becoming a pushover.
How Happy Are Your Tenants?
We’re not telling you to be best friends with your tenants (or even that a friendship is healthy). Rather, we’re encouraging you to invest in your relationships with tenants in such a way that they’re happy and satisfied. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it’ll have a positive impact on your bottom line.