Retaining tenants as a buy-to-let landlord is a lot cheaper than looking for new ones
My last two articles have walked you through the first two phases of how to be an excellent buy-to-let landlord:
In this article, I’ll look at how to keep your tenants happy throughout the term of their tenancy. Happy tenants are easier to manage and more amenable to rent increases – and that will help you, as a buy-to-let landlord, to maximise rental income profit.
1. Keep in contact
Some investment property management companies will tell you that the tenant wants to be left alone, but that is rarely a good tactic. I prefer our agents to contact your tenant a month after they’ve moved in. It reinforces that we’re thinking of them, and gives us the opportunity to confirm a schedule of property inspections.
We’ll also make sure that there are no early teething troubles, and confirm that they know how to contact us in emergencies and use our online repair reporting system.
On the first inspection, if we notice any bad tenant habits, we’ll be able to correct them – early action is the best action.
2. Put everything in writing
Whatever you agree with the tenant and whatever conversations you have, put it all in writing. Make notes of telephone calls, and save all electronic communications. If you agree to send a handyman to make a repair, send the tenant an email to confirm the date and time.
Keeping written records and sending information and confirmation to tenants in writing will keep everything above board and straight, removing any room for confusion or misinterpretation.
3. Stick to the tenancy agreement
Talking about putting things in writing, the most important written document you’ll give your tenant is the tenancy agreement. This piece of paper, more than any other, will determine your success as a buy-to-let landlord and property investor.
Make sure it is watertight, with clauses that cover all eventualities. And never stray from it. If it says you’ll be inspecting the property every six months, make sure you do.
The tenancy agreement is the basis that will determine your relationship between you and your tenant.
4. Offer online services
Nowadays we all live our lives at a fast pace. It’s difficult to make the time to meet in person, and picking up a phone and calling someone is a task that is often forgotten.
Tenants today prefer to conduct their business online. Our online services for tenants (and landlords) make the job of reporting repairs and reminding of due rent easily – and as soon as your tenant’s rent hits our account, we pay it into yours.
5. Be contactable
There’s nothing more infuriating than not being able to get in touch with someone when you need to. You’ll need to make yourself easy to contact – online, email, and by phone. And, your tenants will want to know that there is a way to get hold of you in the middle of the night, and when you’re on holiday.
You might not want to be contacted at silly o’clock in the morning, but I’m sure you would change your mind if the water tank had sprung a big leak.
Our landlord clients don’t have to worry about any of this. Our systems take care of everything for the buy-to-let landlord – it’s a Set and Forget philosophy that landlords love.
6. Always be professional
I met a tenant once who wanted to move solely because of his landlord. In two years, he’d only met the landlord twice – he’d had little cause to get in touch. There had been no repairs needed, and no issues that needed reporting.
My meeting with the tenant was a week after his second meeting with his then current landlord. The landlord had turned up at the tenant’s home, on a Saturday morning, expecting to inspect the property. He was still drunk from the night before (the smell of booze made the tenant back away) and was wearing jeans and a T-shirt. The T-shirt had a hole in it, and the jeans had mud stains down one leg. When he spoke, the landlord slurred his words and acted aggressively.
Whenever you meet or speak to your tenant, be professional:
- Dress appropriately. You are, after all, running a business.
- Stay calm, and know what you’re going to say. Even if you find yourself in disagreement – the rent’s always late, or there’s a dispute about whether something is damage or wear or tear – it’s important to never ‘lose your rag’. Don’t raise your voice, and never, ever, swear. An old boss of mine once told me that the first person to swear during an argument is the one that loses that argument. He’s been proved right time and again.
- Remember that you can’t threaten your tenants or withhold their rights. While the customer is sometimes a pain in the backside, they’re always right (until they’re wrong).
7. Remember the unique landlord/tenant relationship
Be friendly with your tenants, and be concerned about their wellbeing. However, always remember that your relationship with them is a business one. You never know what the future holds. There may come a time when you need to evict them, and that will be made almost impossible if your landlord/tenant relationship has an emotional element. There’s no room in business for emotions!
8. Don’t let maintenance slip
All properties need to be maintained. Be proactive in your maintenance programme. Inspect your investment property regularly and keep in touch with the tenant. If the tenant reports a problem, make sure that it’s dealt with promptly by a professional tradesperson.
It’s always good to have a maintenance programme in place – keeping on top of the little things will ensure that your tenant feels looked after and help to maintain value in your investment property.
9. Wish your tenants a happy birthday, and congratulate them on a new tenancy
Make a note of your tenant’s birthday and send a card to wish them well. When they renew their lease, why not give them a small gift to congratulate them on making such a wise choice? A ‘thank you’ goes a long way.
A summary for how to be a great buy to let landlord
Once you’ve found great tenants and let them know you’re going to be a good landlord by welcoming them to their new home in the right way, don’t blow it by neglecting them.
If you use the above strategies, then your tenants will know how lucky they are to be renting from you. Treat tenants with the respect with which you want to be treated, and look after your property to encourage them to do the same.
Though there’s work involved in being a great landlord, the rewards are happier tenants: and a happy tenant is one that will renew their lease time and again. That’s a lot cheaper than finding a new tenant every few months, a whole lot less hassle, and gives you better cash flow.
Keeping your tenants happy is something that we do as a matter of course in our business. Contact one of the Ezytrac team or me today on +44 1522 503 717, and discover how our Set and Forget philosophy could transform your buy-to-let property investment.
Yours in effortless property management,
Brett Alegre-Wood MARLA MNAEA