Establishing a Good Landlord-Tenant Relationship in the Baltimore Metro Area
You’ve found tenants for your Baltimore Metro area properties; now it’s time to establish a long-lasting relationship with them. High tenant retention rates have many benefits, including consistent cash flow, word of mouth recommendations, and lower marketing costs.
Understanding Your Tenant’s Motivations and Background
Your tenants want a safe and peaceful place to live, and their expectations of what that means depend on their life experience, the rentals they’ve lived in previously, and the landlords and property management companies they’ve interacted with.
You might be dealing with a first-year Johns Hopkins student who’s out on their own for the first time, or a family that’s rented for 20 years and is now actively saving up to buy a house. The former has never lived on their own before, let alone rented a property previously, and may need some guidance, while the latter has a lot of experience navigating rental agreements.
When you’re engaging with your tenants, try to consider things from their unique points of view. Empathy will go a long way towards creating a long-term relationship with the tenants.
Delivering on Expectations and Promises
Once you set expectations through a rental agreement, you need to meet them. Cover your responsibilities to the tenant in full and keep track of any promises that you make as well. You want to position yourself as being dependable and reliable from the start.
Answering Tenant Questions Promptly
Tenants may have many questions for you, from how to run home systems like the HVAC to maintenance concerns. Time-sensitive issues could lead to lasting damage to the property. For example, if you miss an email or phone call about a water pipe breaking, then the house could end up flooding. Let the tenants know how long it takes for you to respond to messages in their respective channels, and how to quickly get in touch in emergencies.
Even with less time-sensitive inquiries, try to get to them within 24 hours. You don’t want a tenant getting frustrated with the lack of response and looking for another person or company to rent from when it’s time for a lease renewal. They want to feel that their time is valued just as much as your own.
Streamlining the Rental Payment Process
Your payment processes shouldn’t get in the way of someone sending their rent. Avoid a system that’s full of roadblocks to getting the rent in on time, such as requiring for it to be given in person as a check. You can make your life and your tenant’s easier by switching to an online payment system.
You don’t have to take time out of your day going to the bank during business hours or risking the chance that the check actually does get lost in the mail. An electronic payment processing system also makes it easy to account for the payments that you have coming in.
Supplying Fast and Professional Maintenance Service
A maintenance request might be an entry on the to-do list for you, but for your tenant, it’s something getting in the way of them enjoying their home. It could range from annoying to thoroughly disruptive, depending on the severity of the problem.
The tenants should know the typical wait time to receive a response for maintenance requests, as that should be something you go over with them when you’re setting expectations at the beginning of the relationship.
Discuss what constitutes a minor, major, and emergency maintenance requests, so they understand the differences in response time. Let them know about the maintenance workers or service that will stop by to address the concern, whether they need to be home during this process, and when the appointment is.
If the tenants have pets, provide guidelines on whether the animals need to be contained in another room, in a crate, or in a carrier during maintenance work. You don’t want to have someone accidentally let the tenant’s pets out of the house or put someone in a position where they get injured due to a loose animal.
Keeping the Lines of Communication Open
One of the most critical aspects of developing a long-term tenant relationship in the Baltimore Metro area is making it easy to communicate with you. You want to present yourself as an approachable and accessible person. A friendly but professional balance is your ideal goal here. Try to offer multiple communication channels to best accommodate the ways that your tenants would like to speak with you.
For example, you can offer email and social media messaging channels alongside your phone number. If possible, allow tenants to text your number, so it’s easier for them to reach out for the small things. While this might take up extra time on your end, it delivers an essential long-term benefit.
Your tenants call your house their home. When small issues start to pop up, and they’re comfortable talking to you, they will mention something that might not call for a maintenance request at the time. Those concerns may be warning flags of a much bigger issue down the road, such as foundation movement or significant system failure. You can avoid costly repairs and other expenses with this proactive approach.
Respecting Tenant Boundaries
The tenant’s right for a quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their home extends to their boundaries. While you certainly want to make sure that everything is well-maintained and they’re following the agreement, you don’t want to overstep boundaries or make the tenants feel uncomfortable in their home.
Give at least 24 hours notice before stopping by – several days would be ideal. Sometimes schedules change, such as contractors needing to shift your appointment around, so keep everyone informed. It can be difficult if you live near your rental properties and you think of a few things to handle here and there, but unannounced visits can make even the friendliest tenants always feel like they’re being watched. The situation is obviously different in time-sensitive emergencies but otherwise stick with the least disruptive way to visit the premises.
Having the Right Team on Hand to Support the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
A strong landlord-tenant relationship depends on many moving parts. If one part lags behind the others, then it’s harder to achieve the retention rates that you’re after. The right team is an essential part of this process, whether you want to assemble your own mix of contractors and other service providers, or by partnering with a Baltimore property management company that coordinates it for you.