Rental Property Management in Fayetteville, NC and How to Communicate With Tenants
Rental property management, and how to communicate with tenants in Fayetteville is dying. As a rental management company in Fayetteville, NC, we realize there is an art to communicating with both tenants and landlords. For many rental management companies, this art has been lost.
In fact, most rental management companies in Fayetteville don’t communicate in any meaningful way, with either the landlord or the tenant. This is a recipe for disaster as, frequent meaningful communication is absolutely necessary, for any successful business relationship.
This lack of communication has caused many rental property investors to consider whether they even need a property management company to help manage their property.
For rental investors who are geographically separated from their rentals, communication with the rental owner, whose rental is in Fayetteville, serves to reassure the rental owner that the rental management company is actually doing their job.
When the lines of communication are not consistent, or worse case non-existent, this gives the rental owner anxiety, and causes them to caution their decision to hire the property management company. The owner is also apprehensive about their rental property investment.
While we discussed our view on how to effectively communicate with property owners in our previous blog, today, we are going to focus on the communication with you the landlord, and your rental property tenant.
It is important to note that communication doesn’t start when the tenant moves into your property. Instead, it is a dynamic, ongoing, affair, which begins from the moment the tenant contacts you about your property. What you say to the tenant, how you communicate the process, and your manner of professionalism are all points that must be considered.
When you first interact with the tenant, you should be prompt and professional in your replies. Return telephone calls when they are missed, capture conversations in emails, and be clear and concise no matter what medium you use to communicate.
If there is poor communication in the beginning, then the tenant is more likely to view you as a landlord who does not care about their needs, and this destructive communication will breakdown your relationship with the tenant. More importantly, it may also cause you to lose a good tenant, who would have otherwise been a star to have in your rental property real estate investment.
Even with the best communication system in place, if you are a landlord or rental manager for long enough, you will have to deal with tenants where the relationship has soured, resulting in an even more increased necessity to clearly communicate expectations.
These trials and tribulations include late rent payments, breaking the lease early, unauthorized pets on in the property, excess roommates in the property, and many others. While it would be beneficial to have a rental property management company in Fayetteville take care of all of these problems, the fact of the matter is that this is not always the case.
As a landlord, and now a rental manager, it is your goal to take the headaches that a property management company would usually take care of, and turn them into actionable steps to bolster your success rate.
Here is some advice from us at Linchpin Property Management to get you started on the right path.
Rental Property Management Tip 1: Keep the Trust Between You and Your Tenant
The landlord tenant relationship is most certainly cut from similar cloth as any other relationship. As we have repeatedly mentioned, this trust is based upon doing what you say you will do.
Similar to any other relationship, this trust will deteriorate if the other party breaks promises. Broken promises lead to doubt, and doubt leads to turmoil. In a business relationship, the last thing you want is to have turmoil. Turmoil has a negative impact on your bottom line.
Not only will your finances be impacted, but a breakdown in trust also leads to the other party seeking help from an outside source. Usually this means the court system. As a property investor, whether you are wrong or right, the last thing you want is to end up in the court system. It’s uncertain, costly, and a distraction from the bigger picture.
Landlord-Tenant laws, while designed to protect both parties, fail to take into account that both the landlord and tenant should rely on each other first. The lack of reliance is what causes a third party to have to intervene.
What this means for you, as a Fayetteville North Carolina rental property owner, is that you must manage your property like a business. Treat it like a business that can’t fail.
This will make your trust with the tenant increase, because the tenant will realize that you care.
Rental Property Management Tip 2: Be Tactful in How You Communicate
It is always best to communicate clearly and unambiguously with your tenant. This ensures that there is no misunderstanding. It is equally important to communicate with your tenant in a manner that does not put the tenant on guard, or on the defensive.
Tactful communication is, by far, one of the keys to effectively communicating with your tenants.
Take, for example, a tenant who is not maintaining the property in conformity with the lease. As a landlord, your neighbor in Fayetteville gave you a call, and informed you that the tenant’s backyard looks like a jungle.
If you had a rental property management company in Fayetteville, North Carolina, you would simply give them a call, and the property management company would take care of it. Because you are managing your own property, now it is on you to correct the behavior.
The impulsive landlord would fire off an emotional email or text message to the tenant. This landlord would cite the paragraphs of the lease that the tenant is violating. The landlord would say:
“Your yard looks like a jungle. I kept the yard nice. It was the best yard in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, and the surrounding area. Now it is a disgrace. I knew I should have hired a property management company.”
While all of this may be true, there is a much better way to go about taking care of this situation.
If, for example, the landlord had frequent communication with the tenant, communication that was not based on a necessity, there would have been a positive foundation.
How many times did the landlord give a call or send a note to the tenant for their birthday? How many times has the landlord checked on the tenant to see how they are doing? While none of this is absolutely necessary, it adds weight.
Assuming the landlord did those things, or even if they didn’t, here is a better approach:
“Hey Mike. I got a call from one of my friends who was in the neighborhood. He said the yard looked like it needs to be cut. Can you take care of it for me?”
This method of communication provides the tenant with notice, and requests that he take care of the problem. This notice, however, is tactful. The tenant knows they are wrong, now they should take steps to correct their behavior.
In other words, the landlord has gotten the same message across, and in a manner that is not belittling or putting the tenant on the defensive. This tactful manner of communication increases compliance.
Rental Property Management Tip 3: Refrain from Using Authority
As a landlord, you will end up with tenants who may not be compliant, despite your best effort to communicate with them in a tactful manner. What being rental property managers in Fayetteville, North Carolina has taught us is that, despite being a tenant, many residents want to be in charge.
What this means is that, while you don’t divest your position, you should curtail your urge to use it as a means to influence the action of your tenant. You never have to say “Because I am the landlord, you have to do as I say.”
The thing you must remember, and which quite frankly is the most powerful thing, is that your power does not come from you being the landlord. Your power is derived from the contractual relationship with you and your tenant in the form of the basic lease agreement.
The complimentary power comes from those contained in the numerous laws related to property management in Fayetteville and North Carolina. These things form the basis of your power, not your position as a landlord.
A caveat to this, however, is that many landlords overestimate, or erroneously interpret their rights under the existing property management laws. Often, because of inexperience, the landlord will interpret the law in a vacuum, and end up on the losing end of the battle.
Remember our advice: You Don’t Want to End Up in Court.
The truth of the matter is, no matter if you have ever heard of the term “Landlord Friendly Laws,” the existing body of laws are meant to protect tenants, not landlords and rental property management companies.
While tenants may violate the law or lease, unless it is something terribly egregious, or specifically addressed in the lease agreement, you can’t bully the tenant out of your rental property.
Although you have power as a landlord, remember that “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.”
A major downside to asserting a position of authority, which isn’t readily apparent at first, is that the landlord who approaches communications with a tenant in this manner will end up go through tenant after tenant. NO ONE wants to be belittled, or feel like a child. And believe us, they will leave.
The result will be an impact on your revenue, as well as your bottom line. While in the short term this may not seem like a problem, imagine the situation where your rental property sits vacant for months, while you wait for another qualified tenant.
Perhaps, and even more frustrating, you take on a less qualified tenant because you want the vacancy filled. Now you end up with a worse tenant who may cause you other issues that lead to costly eviction proceedings.
This reduction in, or inconsistent, cash flow, violates the first law of being a landlord “Protect Your Bottom Line at All Costs.”
Rental Property Management Tip 4: Don’t Jump to Conclusions
Going back to the phone call about the grass, jumping to a conclusion would mean that you assume that the tenant is lazy and didn’t want to cut the grass. This view, however, ignores what else could be happening with the tenant.
As a property management company in Fayetteville, a large portion of our tenants are assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. What this means, is that we view issues with tenants through a different lens.
Was the grass not cut because the tenant is away on a training exercise for an extended period of time? We have had tenants who were going through training, or selection, that simply weren’t around to cut the grass. While ideally, they would have let us as the rental management company know, sometimes this isn’t the case.
The key is, that once they received communication that there was a defect, they got it resolved as quickly as possible.
Tenants, for the most part, want to do the right thing.
Jumping to conclusions serves no useful purpose and, again, deteriorates the landlord tenant relationship. In fact, it can be one of the most destructive forces, as it is closely related, and often fuels, many of the other toxic communication methods between landlords, tenants, and property management companies.
Looking at it from a long-term perspective, is hurting your relationship with your tenant, and the potential for long-term rental property income, worth the issue you are currently facing? How much capital will you lose over the long run?
What we are referring to is the lifetime value of the tenant. Lifetime value, in the most basic form, is how much rental income you will collect from a particular tenant. The goal is to have the revenue be consistent, and not broken. The more income you collect, and the longer, the more valuable the tenant becomes.
Another consideration for lifetime value is not only with your current tenant, but also by way of referrals that come from the tenant. As tenants in Fayetteville are preparing to move on to another duty station, they always call property management companies with referrals.
As a landlord, if you treated the tenant properly, they will be more than willing to refer your property to another incoming service member. This provides you with a consistent unbroken chain of rental income for your investment property.
As a rental property management company who understands the financial impact of tenant vacancies, and the overall financial gain to the rental property owner, we take our fiduciary duty seriously.
Rental Property Management Tip 5: Communicate According to the Situation
While we firmly believe that property management should consist of easily recorded informal communications, so that you have a paper trail, there may come a time when a more formal manner of communication is necessary.
The best tenants are those who correct deficient behaviors quickly. They know they are wrong, and take steps to get back on the right track. This type of tenant is a pleasure.
The other side of the coin is the tenant who, no matter how you communicate, simply doesn’t get it. This type of tenants may require extra prodding.
As we have mentioned countless times, Landlord Tenant Law, is not as easy as it seems. It is a huge body of not only statutes, but cases, regulations, and other guidance. We would caution any landlord against relying on one source, without checking out the others.
What is important for you as a property investor to understand, is that, each step of the process involves certain legal check marks you have to make.
Time and time again, we have seen landlords who manage their own property get caught up on the “I’m going to evict my tenant” mentality, only to find out that they can’t because they have not met the necessary legal requirements.
Not only is this scenario played out with individual landlords and rental property investors, but it is also common with rental management companies in Fayetteville, North Carolina because, frankly, many of them don’t know the triggers and the legally correct ways to communicate with tenants.
As a landlord, it is imperative that you begin to understand the right way to go about doing business, if it is necessary to escalate beyond merely providing an informal notice. Notice requirements include notices to pay rent; notices to quit; and notice of violations of the lease. While your goal is not to evict the tenant, you must set up the paper trail in case eviction becomes necessary.
All of these types of notices, and others not listed, require their own separate form of the notice, time frame, and ability for the tenant to cure the defect.
A pointer, however, is not to get in your mind that every infraction requires notice. Remember, you don’t always want to go for the guns.
You can keep track of the informal notifications, and encapsulate them in your formal notification based upon past conduct. It is entirely up to you as to when, and how, you use the notices, based upon your intent. Serious violation and you are planning to get rid of the tenant send a notice.
Additionally, remember, tactful communication even with the official notifications. Don’t get emotional, don’t get personal, it is business.
It is important to note, again, about the business relationship. Even if you have one rental property, YOU ARE STILL A BUSINESS OWNER.
What this means, is that your decisions must be based on the business, and ensuring the health of the business. You want to use a variety of communications to keep this relationship on track, without deteriorating it.
While the law is important, keeping the relationship healthy is equally, if not more, important. Remember, a long-term tenant, means more income for you as a property investor.
Always, as a smart investor, take into consideration your end goal.
As a rental property management company in Fayetteville, North Carolina, we have had our share of having to deal with the diverse ways to communicate with tenants. While most tenants are high quality, a few bad apples will occupy a significant amount of your time. Preparing for an eviction is not something you can take lightly.
At Linchpin Property Management, we have written a guide to the “Fayetteville North Carolina Eviction Process.” It’s free as a download for you as a landlord at the link below.
As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
Also, don’t forget to schedule your Landlord and Property Investor Consultation at the link below.
The Team at Linchpin Property Management