Are you struggling to communicate with your tenants? If so, you’re not alone. Many Texas landlords have a hard time getting tenants to call them back and report necessary repairs. When a tenant violates their lease agreement, there are confrontations and heated arguments.
While you can’t change a person’s way of being, you can take the following steps to mitigate the potential for heated confrontations and other communication problems:
Approach lease violations in a non-threatening manner
In a perfect world, tenants would remember everything outlined in their lease. Unfortunately, they don’t. Often, tenants are oblivious to their contractual obligations despite having read and signed the lease. Some lease violations are more urgent than others, but the way you approach a tenant will determine how that tenant responds.
For instance, when you come at a tenant with demands and refer to the lease, you’ll put that tenant on the defense. In that situation, the tenant is more likely to provide excuses and justify their broken agreement. Some tenants may choose to be willfully defiant simply because they feel sideswiped. It’s not right, but that’s how some people operate. As a landlord, you need to know how to navigate and mitigate these types of situations.
The best solution is to alter the way you approach tenants regarding lease violations. Give them the benefit of the doubt on your first contact. Often, a friendly phone call serving as a reminder will prevent the tenant from feeling sideswiped by an impersonal demand letter.
When you call a tenant, tell them you wanted to give them a call personally so they don’t feel caught off-guard by an impersonal paper notice taped to their door. It won’t lessen the seriousness of the violation but it will encourage the tenant to put their guard down and work with you.
Anytime you contact a tenant over the phone, be sure to record that call in your notes, including how the tenant responded. In some cases, you’ll need to follow up your phone call with a written notice as per Texas law, so be sure to let the tenant know to expect that written notice.
Not all tenants violate lease agreements intentionally and are happy to remedy the situation when politely requested to do so.
Express your expectations for communication early and often
Do your tenants know what you expect from them? For instance, if you expect a tenant to return your phone call within 48 hours, but you didn’t make that clear, then you can’t get upset when calls go unreturned for weeks.
Tenants are busy. They work, spend time with their family, and aren’t always going to prioritize returning their landlord’s phone call – unless you tell them otherwise.
When you first take on a tenant, communicate your expectations to them when they sign the lease. Let them know that you expect a call back within 48 hours, and that you’ll do the same for them. When you actually have to make a call, if you get the tenant’s voicemail, give them a gentle reminder at the end of your message. Don’t say, “Call me back within 48 hours.” Instead, say something like, “If I don’t hear back by Friday at noon, I’ll give you another ring.”
When explaining to your tenant that you expect a call back within 48 hours, let them know why. You don’t owe any explanations to your tenants, but the purpose isn’t to provide an explanation. It’s to make sure the tenant understands the urgency of returning your call and the consequences that follow.
For example, let your tenant know that you run a tight schedule and need to plan things in advance. If your tenant takes longer than 2 days to get back with you, it makes it harder for you to handle whatever it is you need to handle. Usually, it’s something for the tenant, and putting it off only hurts the tenant.
Tell your tenant that calling back within 48 hours is especially important when you’re trying to get a repair done. The longer they wait to call you back, the longer it will take to complete the repair. Let them know you want to get repairs done as quickly as possible so they don’t have to wait.
Be transparent and honest
Don’t lie to your tenants, ever. Although landlords have plenty of complaints about tenants, tenants also have complaints about landlords. Sometimes those complaints center on landlords who are dishonest. Don’t be that landlord. If you want good communication with your tenants, don’t give them any reason not to trust you.
Stay in communication regarding your promises
Nothing cuts deeper than a broken promise. Yes, even tenants can be hurt by broken promises, especially when you don’t communicate to explain what happened. When you break a promise to a tenant, they’ll feel unimportant and disappointed and their trust in you will fade.
Trust can be diminished by small broken promises. Say your tenant reported a broken window screen and you said you’ll replace it on Wednesday. It’s now Friday and you haven’t even gone to the store to pick up the materials to make a new screen. Don’t wait until you’re actually ready to replace the screen to communicate.
If you said you’d show up on Wednesday with a new screen but didn’t, your tenant already knows you’re behind schedule. Call them up the moment you know you can’t make it and tell them you need to reschedule. Don’t wait until days later. If you know the day before, call then. You don’t know what your tenant has arranged so they can be there when you come to replace the screen. They may have gotten a babysitter, taken a day off work, or canceled other plans.
Good communication requires patience and courtesy
Treat your tenants with respect and extend the same courtesy you would to your friends and business associates. You don’t owe it to your tenants to give them chances or be the nice landlord, but if you want two-way communication with your tenants, being courteous is necessary.
Tired of communicating with uncooperative tenants?
If you’re tired of going in circles with uncooperative tenants, it’s time to consider hiring a property management company. At Green Residential, our property management experts know how to screen and select tenants that are less likely to cause problems. When you use our services, we will take care of all tenant communications so you can be a property investor rather than a landlord.
Contact us today for a free analysis and find out how we can make your life as a Texas property investor a bit easier.