My tenant and I have argued, how can I fix our relationship?
People are at the heart of the rental property industry and maintaining great relationships is the key to success.
As a landlord, you probably have a dream tenant. For some it might be students, for others a young professional couple, while another landlord might be looking for a family. But all good tenants have a few things in common:
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- Pay rent on time. The best tenants never give you cause to worry about the rent and always pay in full and on time. However, it’s worth noting here that even the best tenants can fall on hard times due to job losses or illness (or, you know, mass job losses caused by a global health crisis) so Rent Guarantee Insurance can give you re-assurance in this instance and time for your tenant to get back on their feet
- Take care of your property. Whenever you pop around, the property is in great condition, which is good news for you because there’s not going to be much to do when they move out apart from perhaps fixing some general wear and tear. Leaving the property in great condition also means there won’t be any worries about returning the deposit
- Easy to work with. You’ll need to pop into the property sometimes – if they’re long-term tenants, you’ll need to organise a Gas Safety check with them every year, for example. Great tenants make accessing the property when you need to easy and let you know of anything in important as soon as possible
However, sometimes relationships do break down. Even with the best of intentions, things don’t always go to plan – we are all only human after all.
Common ways landlord-tenant relationships break down
There are a few common sticking points between landlords and tenants, which you can hopefully aim to avoid:
- Rent arrears. As we said above, the best tenants pay in full and on time every month, but life isn’t perfect and sometimes they might fall behind. This can cause problems because the landlord is worried about covering their expenses and the tenant is worried about their lack of income and keeping their home
- Damage. This is always a tricky one because one person’s damage is another person’s general wear and tear. You could be horrified at the state of the property, while the tenant thinks it’s all totally fine and this can blow up into a larger disagreement
- Eviction. You may want your property back for multiple reasons – you may wish to sell up, convert to a holiday let or use it yourself. This can be very unsettling and upsetting for your tenant, causing issues between you
- Rent increases. No one wants to hear their rent is going up, but rent is rising at the moment, due to inflation, increased outgoings for landlords and strong competition in the market. But costs are going up for tenants too, as utility and food bills surge, making this a trickier conversation than ever before
- Speaking out of turn. The issue may arise from a careless comment from you or your tenant, which causes offence
How to fix it
Now you know the common places where relationships can falter, let’s look at how to get things back on track with our top tips!
This can be a worrying one to face, but if your tenant has been reliable until this point, try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Remain calm. Yes, you’ve got bills to pay and you’re likely very worried about making ends meet, but remember that your tenant feels exactly the same way. Keeping calm in this situation prevents things blowing up into an argument
- Talk to them. And, most importantly, listen. Find out, if they are willing to share, what the problem is and from here, you can work together to resolve it and agree on a payment plan
- Have a plan. Work together to figure out a way forward that benefits both parties. It may be that your tenant decides they should move out because they can no longer afford the rent. It may be that they are simply between jobs and can pay you back the month or two of missed rent when they have a new one. Whatever you work out, be sure to get this in writing
- Have Rent Guarantee Insurance. With RGI, you don’t have to worry about missed or part payments, meaning that it’s a lot easier to remain calm and figure out a solution – knowing that you won’t be out of pocket prevents you reacting from an emotional place
When you become a landlord, you’ll need to accept the fact that standards vary from person to person and you and your tenants’ standards may not align. And that’s ok – variety is the spice of life, after all!
- Keep it professional. Make sure that you have a thorough inventory of the property before you rent it out. You can have this done professionally and a third party can advise on damage at the end of the tenancy, which makes things a lot easier for you
- Keep it polite. If the damage happens during the tenancy and your tenant wants you to get something fixed that they clearly broke, that can be incredibly frustrating. But this is a professional relationship, so keep it polite and advise on the costs and how this can be paid now or out of the deposit
- Forgive and forget. Once the issue is resolved, let it go. Don’t put your tenant on edge by reminding them of it, as they may end up feeling like you’re judging them for a single accident that won’t happen again
No landlord wants to evict – it’s a lengthy process and you don’t want to feel that you are putting someone out of a home. However, sometimes it’s a necessary step, if you are leaving the industry or your tenant is not meeting the terms of their agreement.
- Consider your options. Before you decide to evict, take a step back and think about it – is there anything else you could do? For example, if the issue isn’t with the tenant, but you wish to sell up, could you sell the property with the tenant in situ? Could you give them plenty of notice before the end of the tenancy agreement, so they can find a new place to live in plenty of time? Perhaps they’re looking to buy, so they might be interested in purchasing the property?
- Keep it above board. Eviction can get emotional on both sides, so make sure that you are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and following the letter of the law exactly
- Get advice. Our Rent Guarantee Insurance offers legal advice in the event of eviction and covers up to £25,000 of legal costs too
Inflation is rising – and so is everything else, so it’s no surprise that rent is following suit. It’s easy for an increase in the rent to derail your relationship with your tenant, so here’s how to keep it on track
- Be reasonable. If you’re feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis, your tenant definitely is too, so before increasing the rent, make sure you do your research. There is no cap to how much you can increase the rent, but it must be ‘fair and reasonable.’ So how much do you need to cover your costs? How much are similar properties renting for in the same location? Use this to gauge your increase
- Communicate in plenty of time. If you are planning to put the rent up at the end of the current agreement, aim to let the tenants know as soon as possible. If they are unable to make the new rent, this at least gives them plenty of time to find a new home
- Be open to offers. Your tenant may not be able to afford the proposed increase, but may make a counter offer. Really take the time to do the calculations here (our free Expense Tracker tool can make this easier for you!) and consider if this counter offer is enough for you. If you have great, reliable tenants who take good care of your property, a lower offer might be worth it, when weighed against the risk of the unknown future tenant
Speaking out of turn
Treat your relationship with your tenant like you would a business relationship. How would you speak to a colleague that you didn’t have a personal, friendly relationship with outside of work? Use this as your base line when it comes to interacting with your tenants.
- Stay professional. There is no need to ever comment on your tenant’s choices – the way they choose to decorate the property, how long they choose to leave dirty dishes in the sink or even their partner – none of these things are your business and should never be commented on!
- Use the right language. Make sure that you are using appropriate language at all times – if someone has specified a name or pronoun they prefer, be sure to use it
- If in doubt – don’t! If your gut instinct is that a comment, whether a joke or an observation about their lifestyle, may be taken amiss, just don’t go there!
Property can be emotional – a lot of your money is tied up in it and this is your tenant’s home. Emotions can overtake reason and cause both you and your tenant to say things you might later regret, so always try to take a step back and consider before going in.
Understand when things come up that are potentially a minefield and prepare accordingly. And remember, it’s always possible to retrieve a relationship, by walking away and coming back with a cooler head!