Landlord and Tenant Relationships sound so dramatic, doesn’t it? Let me explain what I mean by this. Ideally, Landlords and Tenants should never have each other’s phone numbers or email addresses. While it sounds rash, I’ve seen far too often how what starts as a great relationship turns awkward.
Landlords hire property managers to manage their tenants & the investment property. It sounds like a simple job. But it’s not. Proof of that is the high turnover rate of property managers coming in and out of the industry. The truth is it’s a hard job, where a property manager has to keep the owner & tenant both happy when often they don’t agree. It’s a stressful job, and it’s a hectic job. I’ve lost count of the number of owners who have started with great tenant relationships only to have them go sideways for a few different reasons.
Three people in any relationship are one too many. Landlords that hire a property manager need the property manager to be a professional buffer between them and the tenant. Plus, the other way around. Tenants need the same thing.
Here are a few of the awesome everyday things I have witnessed go down when landlord and tenant relationships have each other’s details.
THE LONG & FREQUENT TEXT
We’ve had a tenant that was sent a Notice to Leave as their lease was coming to an end. So they sent the owner very long and frequent texts about why they needed to stay & how they had applied for many properties without success. What they were doing was pulling on the heartstrings of the owners to try to have them give in. Most people probably would have, but they didn’t. Instead, the owners just forwarded the texts to us asking we ask the tenants can they please never contact them directly again. The owner didn’t appreciate the type of guilty contact, and if anything, it made the owners want tenants to leave even more.
TEXT OR CALLS TO THE OWNERS TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE PROPERTY MANAGER
Suppose a property manager has done something wrong, which is possible. It’s best to tell them and tell the RTA if needed. Often owners do not want to know about it, which is why they hired us in the first place. I’ve found that many landlords are not equipped to handle a tenant who complains, and often their complaint is unfounded or inaccurate. There are always two sides to a story. Owners don’t want their tenant’s telly tatting on the property manager. We’ve had tenants tell owners that we are terrible to deal with. Then, they just didn’t have one when pushed for an explanation.
CUTTING OUT THE MIDDLE MAN
Tenants can sometimes use this direct contact to convince the owner to save some money, cut out the property manager, and let them lease the property directly from them. If an owner wants to do this, that’s fine, but they came to us because they don’t. Regarding saving money, generally, investors who self-manage do not save money; it costs them money. I have found that people who self-manage do not keep the rent up to market levels. The most recent was property rented for $800 PW, which we have now increased to $1,200 PW.
We’ve had tenants contact the owner directly, asking for a $ 20-a-week rental deduction when we were about to increase it by $20 a week. The owner was seriously considering it. We then stepped in, and the tenants then agreed to pay the small $20 increase, which is still small for the current market conditions. So the owner is now benefiting from a small $20 increase, whereas if they agreed with the tenants, they would now have a $ 40-a-week loss.
Recently a tenant talked an owner into spending $300 cleaning up the garden, which was the tenant’s responsibility. Then when it was done, the tenant complained the job was not good enough & could they come back and do more. But I have also had a situation where I had just had some maintenance approved by the owner, then the tenant spoke with them directly, and the owner cancelled all the care. I have no idea what they said about. Whatever it was, it’s now impacted the tenant because they were looking forward to the maintenance being done.
OWNERS START TO HATE TENANTS
I’ve had owners call me to explain they now feel sick “that” tenants are now living in their property. The tenant is good, looks after the home pay the rent on time. They are just not that good with how they talk to people and have rubbed a few people the wrong way, including the owner.
I have seen property investors not increase the rent because they like the tenants they have in place and miss out on around $200 a week of additional income. Over five years, that’s a staggering $50,000. It’s lovely some landlords can afford to do that. But most buy investment properties to build wealth, and regular rental increases are part of that.
Almost every property that comes to us that has self-managed has rental arrears. Tenants should not be any more than seven days in arrears, or there are significant consequences.
Probably the biggest mistake is miscommunication. The tenant thinks the owner said something, and the owner is sure they didn’t; now, the tenant expects that. Recently I had an owner inspect some storm damage, and as I stood there, I heard them tell the tenant they would look after the damage to the tenant’s car. That’s something the owner should not have said. Turns out the insurance does not cover it. So that’s now awkward. The owner has now created an expectation for the tenant they can’t meet.
TWISTING FACTS – LANDLORD AND TENANT RELATIONSHIPS
We’ve had a tenant tell an owner things that are not true. The tenant has the owners so convinced we had to supply the owner backup documentation as proof that what the tenant was claiming was not true, which is very awkward for everyone. Property managers should not have to be put in a position to prove themselves to their clients and the landlord, and, unfortunately, some tenants think they can go around telling lies to try and get what they want. Property management is very regulated. We have computer systems that track everything, and legislation needs to be followed. Usually, an agency manages hundreds of properties; if they conducted themselves poorly, they would not be in business for very long.
Property managers have to be fair but firm. We also know the legislation. We are usually better at wording things, ensuring promises are not made and people are not let down. Owners are people who want to keep their tenants happy. But then that can turn on them, and a tenant can take advantage of them. Of course, this may go the other way, too, where the owner may try and take advantage of a tenant too.
So if you are a tenant or a landlord and you have the other person’s contact details, you also have a property manager. Please just deal directly with the property manager; it’s their profession. It’s what they do daily and probably for over 100 properties, so it’s possible they are more qualified to manage the property and landlord and tenant relationships far better than if they communicated directly. Of course, I am sure some landlords and tenants connect directly with each other all the time just fine too.