A Landlord’s New Years Resolutions
You know, the ones that you should actually keep.
Welcome to the fresh new year, with new beginnings all around. If you’re anything like us, you’ve been planning your New Year’s resolutions since just after you finished telling everyone what you were thankful for several weeks ago. Around here, the New Years resolutions look something like this:
Use the “F” words a whole lot more.
Those words, of course, being “fair,” “friendly,” and “firm.” There are few assets more important to a landlord than his relationship with his clients, and the ‘F’ words are one of the best rubrics around for remembering how to maintain those relationships. You can’t come at it from a ‘the customer is always right’ perspective, because tenants are flat-out wrong from time to time.
What you can do is put effort into communicating, and be fair, friendly, and firm in everything that you do; balance is the key.
Spend more time partying.
With your tenants, that is. This deserves a little background: a decade ago, most people who were renting houses were basically counting the days until they could own their home. Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans have realized that they’re never going to be owners — and that makes them consider their rental communities their ‘real’ homes.
If you have rental buildings that have multiple families, encouraging them to get together and be good neighbors. Organizing potlucks, picnics, and other events can go a long way toward building a sense of belonging in your buildings — and with that sense comes more referrals, better retention, and less complaints.
By which we mean ‘document everything.’ Every step of the rental process should be recorded, preferably via digital photograph and/or video. Every text message and phone call should be routed through a tool like Google Voice that can record logs of when calls or texts came and went, and optionally can record calls as they’re made. It might seem like paranoia to your tenants — at first — but when the inevitable court case comes pending, you’ll be incredibly glad you put the effort in up front.
Join a gang.
A gang of other landlords! There’s this weird notion in the ether that other landlords are necessarily your competition and that therefore you should have as little to do with them as possible. That’s wrongheaded — these people could be doing you the great service of learning lessons for you and sharing them with you so that you don’t have to make them yourself! Finding or starting some sort of landlord’s get-together in your area can be a great way to advance your understanding of your job and your neighborhood.
Now, obviously, not everyone needs to adopt all of these resolutions — tradition would have you pick just one. But they’re all good ideas, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t be sticking with all of them throughout 2014.
Got any sweet New Years resolutions of your own? Share them in the comments!