Unfortunately, it’s well known that some tenancies can be full of drama with strained relationships between the landlord & the tenant, which means also the agent if there’s one in place.
There can be so many reasons for disputes to arise that sometimes every conversation or email can feel like traversing a minefield. I don’t actually have any minefield experience but far out do I know how quickly a tenancy can go sour.
It really doesn’t need to be this way though. I think the tone needs to be set from the beginning and along the way, it’s about getting people’s expectations to meet reality, because realistically- we can’t always get what we want. But you can get what you need.
Is that a song?
Anyway, across these last 18 months of tense times it’s become very noticeable in the tenancy space that not everyone is thrilled at how things are going. Landlords in Sydney are dealing with a rental market most have not experienced before in their time. Whilst many have been through the hail storms, floods, etc, for the most part, landlords have never had to discount rent or increase their capital expenditure, all the while until now having little government assistance and their outgoing costs stand firm. Of course, this has seen frustration rise.
On the other end of the scale, tenants have needed financial assistance in many cases or seen the need to move house, many have not been able to access government assistance or assistance from their landlords despite media reports of so much being available & misconceptions about landlords being able to provide tenants help. It hasn’t been that straightforward, so we have frustration on both ends.
I have some experience in “trying” to keep things light, helpful & really real between landlords & tenants so here are some of my tips on how to “try” to get things running smoothly from the get-go.
Why the focus on this topic?
Well firstly because of humanity & it’s just nice to be nice, but also, why wouldn’t you want some kind of mutually beneficial relationship to be respectful & courteous.
Also, tenants who are happy respect the lease, the property, and the landlord who respects them. Landlords respect when rent is paid on time and their property is being well cared for because it gives peace of mind- which is priceless.
Get them right from the outset.
There’s a Lease, it outlines everyone’s contractual abilities, what they are supposed to do and when. Everyone has the opportunity to read it, or be educated about the lease along the way. Aside from the lease, there are other legalities to cover, an agent who knows the Act & Regulations will show you all the way.
Once you have agreed to any specifics, terms etc lay those out in writing & be sure you are happy to live with the terms you’ve agreed to, or risk being regretful!
Two-Way Communication is everything or a party in between who can pass it on and make recommendations / deliver unwanted news / negotiate etc.
But communication is key, we need tenants to report issues, we need them to let us know when things are done or not done. Tenants remind us sometimes of loose ends or simply what’s going on in the street or building that can impact the property.
So yeah, we need to be available and responsive to all of that. Back to the legalities, it’s crucial that important conversations, actions, or agreements are laid out in writing. For this, you need to be cover multiple forms of communication between tenants, agents, and the landlord. Email, Text, letters, phone calls, and file notes are necessary, sometimes for the most mundane of things but still! Record keeping is your best friend so you know where everyone stands.
A tenant should respect the landlord’s property and similarly, the landlord should respect the tenant’s home. Anyone can be sensitive to the security & sense of belonging they have in a home. Whilst the property is usually an investment property so emotion doesn’t come into place, some landlords can share that emotional attachment, but it’s more likely the tenant’s attachment will be there.
So, whilst a landlord should see investing in property as an investment, we can’t take away the human factor involved across the “transaction”, and that’s something we always need to consider.
Mutual respect is as simple as following the guidelines that the lease provides on all sides, but just factoring in your tenant or landlord into all decisions made. How will this decision impact the tenant or the landlord? It’s only fair that this works both ways and isn’t always a “me” decision. Respect boundaries, the need for everyone to play their part, be cordial, and don’t overstep.
Keep it Real
By that I mean, always be open to discussion & negotiation. Tenants might throw a huge party & owners might not get around giving instructions for repairs straight away.
Set your expectations to realistic and I guess it’s helpful when everyone has realistic ones and exercise some patience.
For a landlord, you should expect that the property is going to be “lived in”. Tenants, you’ll have to expect the need for inspections & instructions a lot of the time.
Whatever wrongdoings may occur in a tenancy, sometimes it’s best to be clear in addressing that issue, forgive & carry on. We’re only human after all.
This one may be for landlords more so, or something they should ensure their agent takes an interest in doing. For the human touch, it’s nice to have some kind of relationship across a tenancy. One where everyone is approachable and the idea of reporting a repair isn’t anxiety-inducing for a tenant.
Attending to Maintenance / Requests
It’s an insurance & lease Biggy either way but it’s also the biggest source of issues in a tenancy. If you’re a landlord then this can be where you risk losing tenants, and while you can always find new tenants, that always comes at a cost.
So while you should not be throwing money at repairs & maintenance senselessly, you and your agent should have a plan on how to address something that’s arisen and then keep the tenant informed as it progresses. Even delays or setbacks should be communicated because no communication becomes the source of frustration.
As you can see, all the above is linked, it’s not anyone thing that you need to do to have a smooth-running tenancy but it’s about consistency, responsiveness, and sticking to your obligations- that’s for all parties involved! But in my experience, landlords, your best bet is to take care of your tenants and they will take care of your property.
Antonio Mesiti is the Principal & Property Manager at The Management Agency, a local Property Management specialist offering a one on one service for his Property Investor clients.
For more information visit; https://themanagementagency.com.au/about/