James Davis, Portfolio Landlord and Founder of Upad, shares his 16 years' experience...
How you establish the relationship will set the tone for the rest of the tenancy so be sure to maintain an open dialogue from the start. This will minimise any disputes further down the line. Most of all make sure your tenants can communicate with you. Give them both your mail and your mobile number.
I always include a ‘property folder’ for when they move in; like you would expect to see in a hotel room. This might sound like a lot of work but once you’ve done it, it’ll just need updating the next time. It also helps to keep you organised! This should include:
It’s a good idea to go round a couple of weeks after they have moved in. There’s likely to be a list of snags and it’s worth getting it all sorted in one go. After that, respect the fact it’s their place. Don’t turn up unannounced and frequently; it’s not your home!
Offering to change the rent day to make it the same as the tenant’s pay day means you’re more likely to get paid. If you haven’t done it already it’s also a good way to make sure a standing order is set up. Similarly, providing an alternative contact when you go on holiday helps the tenant but also ensures any problems aren’t dealt with through their own DIY or a dodgy tradesman.
Like many things it’s really important to keep perspective and remember that you’ve come together for different reasons. It’s a business and an income stream for you, but it’s a home for your tenants. At the end of the day they’re your businesses’ customers and you should treat them as such. Your best customers should get special treatment; I try and go round with a birthday cake when it’s their kid’s birthday and take a bottle of port at Christmas. I’ve even agreed to pay for a weekend away to sweeten the renewal. You want to keep the good ones!
Never underestimate the value of a good tenant. That’s one that not only pays the rent on time but looks after the property. Plus, don’t let a situation or disagreement turn sour; that bit is your responsibility.