Our industry preaches the importance of treating your rental property ownership like a business and like any business tenants are your customers. But this is one thing landlords often overlook—customer service.

Your tenant is your customer and their needs and wants will often times dictate the success of your rental.   Treating your tenants well and ensuring their happiness will pay off with higher retention rates and lease renewals.

While we would never advocate bending over backwards, disregarding a lease or making unreasonable changes to the lease terms at the tenant’s demand, there are things you can do to please the tenant and maintain an appropriate landlord/tenant relationship.

1. Make your tenants feel at home

Give them a welcome basket with coupons and menus for local eateries. Include an emergency contact list with your phone number, the name of your property manager (if you use one), and the local numbers for the police, fire and poison control departments. Encourage them to decorate and tell them you’d love to stop by once they are all moved in to address any concerns they might have. Be willing to address their questions and worries from the beginning as it will encourage them to openly communicate with you.

2. Fix problems promptly

Repairing overflowed toilets, fixing late night heater breakdowns and a gambit of other, less than glamorous, issues come with the territory of landlording. If you aren’t handy, have no patience for drama and are unable to make landlording your fulltime job it is imperative you find a good handyman willing to work with you.  Fixing these problems in a timely manner and maintaining the property is not only important to the tenant but important to your legal safety. Leaving someone without running water or air-conditioning for a period of time might violate your state’s landlord tenant laws and leave you open to litigation.

3. Communicate with your tenants

Nothing, and we mean nothing, is more frustrating and annoying than when your calls and messages get ignored. You know you hate it, too! So don’t do this to your tenants. Respond to them, even if the response might require you to set limits or tell them no.

4. Offer your tenants an incentive for their referrals

It shows you value their opinion and you trust them enough to help you. No one gives better testimony than a happy tenant. Let your current residents know when you have a vacant property and tell them you offer gift cards, cash or some kind of gift if they bring you a tenant. Note: Use investigative tenant screening to vet this applicant and ensure they sign a lease before you give out your prizes.

5. Don’t forget your long-time tenants

New tenants are great and you often have honeymoon, new tenant glow. You help them with little issues, you’re willing to make minor repairs quicker and you really want them to like you. But don’t forget the tried and true tenants who’ve stuck around.  They still need your attention every once and awhile.  If they’ve rented from you for two years give their home a fresh coat of paint and make sure to ask them if there are any repairs they think might need to be done long term—they’ve been there long enough to know the property and might have a better idea of large scale work needing to be done.

Want more information on keeping your tenant happy? Visit ARPOLA’s page on the keeping a tenant or maybe you want a peek inside their concerns as renters? Visit… http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/renters-rights/