This post is directed to landlords, particularly those with multi-family properties such as duplexes and apartment buildings. Landlords, you have a reputation. Tenants talk among themselves about you and your management. They share insights as to their interactions with you. How do you handle your landlord-tenant relationships? How do you respond when a tenant approaches you with a problem? You should want your tenants to feel comfortable and receive the same, consistent message, that you are firm but fair.
This point was clearly illustrated when one of our new tenants nervously came into the office to talk with us. As a result of changing jobs, she was only able to make a partial rent payment for that month. She told me that other tenants had encouraged her to come in and talk to us because, in her words, we were “firm but fair”. That is exactly what I want my tenants to do. I want them to feel that they can come talk to me or my assistant when there is a problem instead of ignoring it and not communicating with us. I want them to know by our reputation that we will be consistent, fair, and firm.
You do not want your reputation to be that of one who does not take care of things, or one of being too soft on certain things. You want your tenants to feel they are all treated equally and with respect, but that they can come and talk to you about their individual situations. It’s also important for your tenants to know that you won’t gossip about them or their situations to other tenants.
What is your landlord reputation? It’s not easy to ask your tenants what they think of you and what kind of reputation you have, but you can always endeavor to do better.