Five Ways to Eliminate Most Landlord/Tenant Adversity

2 min read
Kevin Perk

Kevin Perk is a full-time buy and hold and fix and flip real estate investor with over 15 years of experience. He and his wife Terron operate Kevron Properties, LLC, a boutique real estate investing company in Memphis, Tenn.

Experience
Kevin was a past president and is a current board member of the Memphis Investors Group. He’s also a blogger and writer who has authored hundreds of real estate investing articles on BiggerPockets and his own blog, SmarterLandlording.com, some of which have been featured on The Motley Fool and MONEY: Personal Finance News & Advice.

Kevin is also host of the SmarterLandlording podcast.

Originally from the Washington D.C. area, Kevin moved to Memphis to attend graduate school at The University of Memphis. After receiving his master’s degree in City and Regional Planning, Kevin climbed the planning career ladder to eventually become planning director of a county in the Memphis metro area. He “retired” from planning in 2003 to pursue real estate investing full-time.

Since “retiring,” Kevin’s main real estate investment strategy has been to buy and hold, otherwise known as landlording. Generally working in historic Midtown Memphis, Kevin is also known to fix and flip grand, historic homes when the right opportunity presents itself. He and his wife Terron (who is the principal broker at Perk Realty) have participated in dozens of real estate transactions in the Memphis metro area.

Kevin has the heart of a teacher and believes in helping others through education. An instructor of college-level geography for over 25 years, Kevin also regularly participates in seminars and panel discussions at such forums as the Memphis Investor’s Group and the Single-Family Rental Summit.

In addition, Kevin has been interviewed in publications such as the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Daily News, and the Foreclosure News Report.

Education
Kevin earned a master’s in City and Regional Planning from The University of Memphis.

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Several years ago when I was just starting out as a real estate investor, I remember talking with another much more experienced investor at one of our local reia group meetings.  A portion of that conversation has always stuck with me.  He stated that “The Landlord/tenant relationship is an inherently adversarial one and you have to treat it as such.”  Many years ago, I believed what the more experienced investor said.  Today, after many years of experience under my belt, I reflect back and wonder if that is truly the case.

Let’s first think about that landlord/tenant relationship.  You as the landlord are providing a good and a service.   The tenant is paying you for that good and service according to the terms of a signed contract, the lease.  You are responsible for providing a living space and services as spelled out in the lease.  In one sense, tenants are our customers.  But they are also a bit more than that.  They are also sort of trustees, holding our property in trust.  And as trustees they have a certain responsibility to return the property entrusted to them in good condition.

This relationship certainly has the potential to be adversarial.  Adversity is stressful and not at all a good business practice.  So, I try my best to avoid adversity.  We have worked hard over the years in our business to reduce adversity in this relationship.  These five techniques have worked well for us.

  1. Set the tone upfront.  Be professional, polite and respectful towards your potential tenants.
  2. Screen your tenants.  Not only with credit and background checks but also listen to and observe how they act.  Are they rude and obnoxious, or are they respectful and polite.  Do they show up on time for appointments?  If not, even if all else is perfect, consider not renting to them.  Remember, there is no protected class for jerks. For more information, check out our Ultimate Guide to Tenant Screening!
  3. If you decide to lease to an applicant, clearly spell out your lease terms and house rules.  Take the time to go over these documents with your tenants line by line.  Yes, actually read the lease to your tenants so they see and hear what is expected and what will and will not be tolerated.
  4. Respond to repair requests and other tenant issues quickly and professionally.  Even if it is just a text message.  It lets the tenant know they have been heard, which itself can go a long way to reducing adversity.  Unresponsiveness by the landlord is perhaps the number one complaint by tenants.  By not responding, you also allow the tenant to make up all sorts of responses in their minds such as “Well if he does not care about me, I do not care about this property.”  It can quickly go downhill from there.
  5. Know when to say when.  Let them know you do not do drama and expect them to act like adults and settle differences like adults.  Sometimes you just have to say no and not get involved.

So there you have it.  Five ways to reduce if not almost eliminate most landlord/tenant adversity.  Is the relationship inherently adversarial?  I don’t think so, but it can become that way if the landlord manages things poorly.  Plus, if you go into a relationship expecting adversity, I think you are going to find it.  What do you think?

Photo: david_shankbone