What Makes You A Better Landlord To Your Customers(Tenants)

15 Replies

We often treat tenants as though they are the problem or the biggest headache and many times they are but in the end of the day they are the landlord/managers customer....your property is your product and your customer leases your property for a fee but we often forget that.  I do believe that great landlord/property managers attract great tenants.

My question is pretty general but curious to hear what people think: 

As a landlord/property manager what do you think you do that provides better customer service then the next landlord?  What keeps your customer(tenant) wanting to pay on time, wanting to take care of your place, wanting to stay there for years, and also keeps attracting new quality tenants?  Why are you better than the next?


Often times tenants renew leases or refer friends because you as the landlord/management company are doing something that makes them feel comfortable right where they are at.  A landlord/manager may use a technology, perform certain processes, or keep preventative maintenance plan that can all be reasons you attract better tenants and keep them.

As an active investor and management company in Chicago proper, Dupage, Cook, & Kane County in Illinois we are always looking for innovative ways to be better at what we do and interested in why other people think they are better?

Hi Mark, we try to treat our tenants as valued clients and be responsive to their requests, within reason. We also use technology to make paying rent easier and we also report their on time payments to the credit bureaus to help build their credit for future home ownership should they choos to go that route.

What has worked for me is building a rapport with the tenants and having an open door policy with them.

  • Nice homes to rent in comparison to what is available in the area 
  • reasonable rates
  • responding to maintenance requests/concerns in a timely manner
  • following up on resolved issues
  • treating them with respect not just as a tenant/client but as a human

My current & past tenants have told the only time they see or hear from their past landlord is 1- when rent is due, 2- when rent is late /haven't been paid but landlord won't fix things or takes a long time to fix things.

My policy is that if a tenant calls with a problem I will be there that day or the next at the latest. I live in a small town and have a great reputation built over 25yrs. All though I must admit that my competition is pretty lousy.

 Tenants have seen me up on a roof x-mass eve day or up to my ankles with a backed up sewer. They know I care to provide a clean, safe, efficient environment for them to live. They often call me the best landlord in town.

 And any time I feel that tenants are a pain I get out my folder of passed tenants that are long gone and remember that "these to shall pass" but the wealth that they are building for me will last (and allow me to retire early).

We look at our properties from the buyer's perspective. We include washer and dryers in each of our units instead of the local standard of "washer and dryer connections". We also provide outdoor storage since make houses in Texas don't have garages. Finally, we send Christmas cards and a small present (typically nuts or chocolate) to our tenets for Christmas.

Mark,

I am convinced we (landlords or property managers) are in the customer service industry. NOT REAL ESTATE. I actually prefer to see it as such. Yes, as a whole we are technically in the real estate industry but our day to day revolves around PEOPLE. 

I am fortunate enough to manage a wide variety of rentals. Everything from a high end $5,000 Parsonage/Rectory in an old converted Wicker Park church all the way to a $495 studio with heat included in the Marquette Park neighborhood on the city's southwest side. One thing they both have in common is that the tenants (customers) wish to be treated with respect and expect a responsive maintenance staff and management team. 

To answer your question more precisely, I have always made a commitment to make sure maintenance concerns are addressed within the same day whenever possible. Our  maintenance teams understand this is a requirement, not an option. We also walk our buildings and common areas on a weekly basis always ensuring these are clear of debris and other unsightly items. For units with forced heat furnaces we regularly replace furnace filters and while were there, test smoke/con detectors. We also perform quarterly pest control services at all properties whether the unit needs it or not. Our pest control vendor is trained to prepare and deliver a professional set of notices to our maintenance staff so these can be distributed a few days before service. 

We offer an online rent pay option. Our  maintenance staff is also available to pick up rents as a convenience to the elderly and sick. We have a 24 hour emergency line which is accessible during after hours for emergencies as well. Managing a high volume of rentals has afforded us the opportunity to have very close relationships with vendors and tradesmen that are on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for emergencies. . 

It all boils down to customer service, responsiveness, and proactive management. Having a management team that understands and has the same outlook and goals will ultimately produce a happier tenant and a ultimately a better bottom line for the property. 

The above is only a small part of a more comprehensive system set in place to manage our units, but I feel it's the most important with regard to our tenants. We try to be as responsive as possible and understand that treating our tenants like people and not like a necessary evil will go a long away.

Open and honest communication from the start. Valuing integrity.

Establishing a mission statement that meets the needs of tenants. ("We strive to provide safe, clean, affordable, comfortable, and quiet housing for responsible renters in the neighborhoods of West Vancouver.)

Listening well. Differentiating between wants and needs. Sometimes responding to a tenant's want, not just their need.

Clearly written contract that can be used by the tenant as a reference document in large enough type size that it can easily be read . Tenants can use it as a guide to keep themselves on the right track. Not just designed to cover our legal needs in case of tenant default.

Respect for people. Honoring their need and right for privacy. Speaking to them in a respectful manner.

Sorting out problems with the tenants input. Also, including them in the decision making process when making upgrades.

Resolving issues amicably. Being swift, polite, fair and firm. At the same time, helping them save face when they break a rule or term of the contract. Guiding them to get back on track.

Added values, such as helping out in an unusual way at a time of need. (Driving a tenant to the airport, helping a tenant dispose of their pet after it died, moving a mailbox to better accommodate a tenant need, replacing regular toilets with a chair height (ADA height) toilet for those who would benefit from such, sending a condolence card at a time of personal loss.)

Move in packet with information about the neighborhood and contact information for reaching communicating with us.

Move in gifts that will help them settle in. Periodic gifts of appreciation during the course of their tenancy.

Responding to tenant concerns and maintenance issues in a timely manner.

Being proactive to keep the properties in good repair and doing upgrades from time to time.

Not raising rent every year and when we do, timing it to coincide with the tenant getting something better, like a home improvement.

Following the GOLDEN RULE.

I am respectful and have always had that come back to me. Don't talk down to them and treat them like adults.

I provide a nice/clean home for them to live in.  I'm fair with them (but not easy).  And if something breaks or needs repair I take care of it promptly (usually the same day or next day if the tenant's schedule permits).  That's about all you can ask of a landlord.

I'll second @Marcia Maynard  on added value / random acts of generosity. Since tenants only interact with the average landlord when something goes wrong, I've found that being proactive and demonstrating that you value their business goes a long way. 

I check in with my tenants once in awhile to ask if they've noticed anything in need of repair. 

I give an occasional gift (once a year or so) to show appreciation. On the 12/30 I gave each of them a bottle of champagne with a thank you / happy new year note. 

I find that these gestures are reciprocated. My tenants take great care of their units, offer to help with issues that pop up, and have even given me gifts in return. 

National surveys continually show that the number one reason tenants give for NOT renewing a lease agreement is 'lack of timely response to repair requests'.

Everything else you do for your residents is a distant second in their eyes.

Great responses everyone! I love the customer focused responses. Sounds like you all are creating more value than you capture and that is a sustainable way to create wealth.  Press on!

@Brooks Rembert , how do you report someones credit for on time payments.

Also how do you report someones who has lost  a judgement in court? Really been pondering this question for a while.

@Ralph Pena . I'm not sure about reporting people who have lost a judgement. For credit reporting, we use eRentPayment and the tenants have an opt in option so that when they pay the rent via bank draft, debit, or credit card, it gets reported to TransUnion as a good payment. Hour that helps. 

now I'm sure that's a paid for service. .. but how much,  and who pays for it. 

We sincerely thank them for letting us know when things need to be fixed; because we want to know about a water drip under a sink before it becomes a much bigger problem. For that reason, we don't charge a deductible on maintenance.  We get stuff fixed as quickly as possible based on the urgency of the item, both for good tenant retention as well as keeping the property in good condition.  We offer various options for paying rent.

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