How to Keep Tenants Happy: 10 Top Tips
With the average rent cost in England now higher than ever, both tenants and landlords need to find a deal that works. And whilst landlords are looking for reliable and trustworthy tenants, tenants are often looking for the same qualities in their landlord.
Thinking of this relationship as one founded on mutual respect is vital to ensure success. Doing so will allow you to find long-term, happy tenants who will look after your property for the time they spend there.
These tips will help you to build a healthy, professional relationship with your tenants.
1. Respect their home
Although the property is legally owned by you, the landlord, it’s important to remember that it is your tenant’s home. All tenants are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their property, which means you should respect their privacy in the property, and make sure you give proper written notice if you need to gain access for maintenance.
2. Use a deposit scheme
It is now a legal requirement for landlords to keep their tenant’s deposits in a Tenant Deposit Scheme (TDS). This means that your tenancy deposits are protected by an independent party who resolve any disputes quickly and fairly. After the deposit has been protected in the scheme, your tenant will be sent a deposit protection certificate — something that provides peace of mind for both parties.
3. Deal with issues quickly
To keep tenants happy, resolve maintenance issues promptly. Whether they can be solved immediately or will need further escalation, communication is key — you should always inform the tenant of a timeline for completion of the job. You may also want to detail in the rental agreement what constitutes the landlord’s responsibility or the tenant’s: for example, the upkeep of the garden could be down to the landlord, whilst the tenant is responsible for changing light bulbs and the cleanliness of the property. Making these assurances builds trust and manage expectations — vital to the success of your landlord-tenant relationship. Consider buying Landlord Emergency Cover as part of your Landlord Insurance package for extra peace of mind.
4. Let them put their own stamp on the home
Landlords should always decorate neutrally to appeal to all tastes. Choose grey, white or magnolia for the walls. But if your property is out of date and you haven’t had the chance to decorate yourself, you should be open to requests from the tenants. Old brown kitchen cupboards can be painted white to uplift the room, or swapping out old blinds for new ones can bring a new life to the place. When it comes to walls, it’s now general practice to allow tenants to put up pictures and frames — as long as the walls are returned to their original state at the end of the tenancy, what does it matter? For extra peace of mind, make sure that all paint colours or wallpapers are approved before the tenant carries out the decorating.
5. Provide helpful instructions for appliances
If you provide a furnished or part-furnished property, your tenants will benefit from having access to instruction booklets for the appliances in their new home. This can also reduce your maintenance costs in the long term, as problems with appliances can be self-solved using the instructions provided. In the case of the burglar alarm, provide instructions on how to reset the code immediately, so that you don’t receive any late-night panicked calls from tenants wondering how to turn off the alarm! Put every instruction booklet (or a copy from the internet) into a binder, to present to the tenants when they get the keys.
6. Provide a clear rental agreement
Start as you mean to go on with a clear rental agreement detailing all aspects of the tenancy. Vague wording can raise alarm bells for tenants who have had bad experiences before, so be concise yet comprehensive. You may also want to get a solicitor to read over the agreement to ensure that it is up to date in terms of legislation.
7. Stick to emails
Always communicate with your tenant over email if possible, as this ensures a paper trail that can be referred to in the future. For quick catch-ups, telephone calls are fine but stay away from texting as it’s important to keep the relationship professional. Be friendly and flexible, and your tenants are likely to give you the same courtesy. Set up a separate email address to deal with your landlord business, and create a professional signature that states your name and contact details.
8. Give rewards
Keeping the same tenants is cheaper than trying to find new ones. So if your tenants renew their tenancy for another 12 months, why not send them a hamper to say thank you? These little touches, as well as things like a card at Christmas, can make a difference as they show that you care. When it comes to student lets and HMOs, taking a Christmas tree around in December or buying some sun loungers for the garden will help word spread quickly that you’re a caring landlord. With so much business done on word of mouth and trust, this could be a fantastic incentive.
9. Abide by the law
The law is there for a reason: it’s there to protect both tenants and landlords. As well as the Housing Act 2004, landlords may need to abide by local legislation — for example, in some cities, landlords need to be licensed by the local authority to let property. It goes without saying, but all properties let out should be in a liveable standard, which means:
● Create homes that are safe and free from health hazards
● Install and maintain all gas and electrical equipment
● Provide Energy Performance Certificates
● Provide Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)
● Hold deposits in a government-approved scheme
● Tenants should have the right to rent (if the property is in England)
● Provide tenants with the government’s ‘How To Rent’ document
10. Be firm but fair
It’s important that decisions made about the property are well communicated and approached in a fair and friendly manner. Whether it’s a request to allow pets in the home, or a problem tenant in an HMO, tenants will appreciate a quick response — even if it’s bad news.
Finding loyal tenants
Remember, with so much competition on the market, if your tenants aren’t happy — they will simply move on to another property. Keeping your tenants happy is a great way to stay competitive and retain your tenants. Really, it’s a no-brainer!