So you’ve got an investment property – congratulations! And now you need to fill it with a good tenant who’ll pay their rent and look after the property with all the care that you would if you were living there.
So you’re a landlord – how can you be a good one?
Of course, you want to be a good landlord too. So I’ll share some things that, from a tenant’s perspective, would help you out with that.
And because this is a Christian website, here’s my challenge to Christian landlords: You have even more accountability here. God has blessed you with this resource. How will you use it to bless others and ‘love your neighbour?’ Will your conduct as a landlord commend the gospel to your tenants? Will you fulfil all your legal obligations – and then some?
Here’s how you might go about it.
Is your property actually liveable?
Firstly, have you ever lived in the property you’re letting out? Hint: it can go a long way to opening your eyes towards whether certain things need attention to make it a comfortable abode. Or if you wouldn’t live there – why not? And why would you expect anyone to pay for the privilege (apart from, you know, sheer necessity and desperation).
Putting a friendly face to a name
Secondly, I highly recommend meeting your tenants face to face, if at all possible. They’re not just a name on paper or occupant of your property. They’re people. Sure, a property manager is a great way to take the stress out of the process (and take care of legal requirements), but it can make a huge difference in the way you relate to your tenants if you can put a face and happy memory to their names!
Small comforts go a long way
Small things can make a huge difference; insulation means that your tenant will be comfortable in summer AND winter. Closing gaps around doors and windows is a small touch to help lower energy bills.
Repairs and maintenance – welcome all reasonable requests
Has your tenant put in a request for a repair or maintenance item? Trust me, they’re not doing it to annoy you or cause you to spend money unnecessarily. In fact, they’re probably scared to bring it up in case it gets used as an excuse for an eviction notice.
Try and see every request in good faith (especially if it’s a lot at once. Sometimes timing can’t be helped!) In fact, you’d rather your tenant tell you these things as they go along so problems don’t get worse.
If meeting the cost of repairs is an issue, consider this amazing idea – a landlord bond (hyperlink: https://www.domain.com.au/news/the-part-of-the-rental-equation-we-are-missing-a-landlord-bond-20170807-gxcsvt). Or, reconsider whether you’re up to the responsibility of having this investment property rented out.
A house should feel like a home
And please, let the tenant make your property feel like their home. I’m not talking about letting them paint the walls or do major renovations. But small things like letting them put up pictures on the wall (3M Command hooks should always be allowed!) go a long way to helping people feel at home. Or if there are small children on the scene, please allow furniture to be safely secured to the wall without threatening loss of bond.
Remember: it’s your house, but it’s someone’s home.
Don’t let one bad egg put you off your omelette
And finally, please don’t let ‘bad tenant’ stories influence the way you treat yours. You’ve got to treat each person on their own merit, rather than the ones who have gone before. This is why I suggest meeting with your tenants.
Greed is nasty – so is overpriced rent
Finally – and this makes little sense in a capitalist economy, but hear me out – consider the affordability of the rent you’re charging. Just because you could be charging top dollar (I’m looking at you, Sydney suburbs), should you? Should your need for extra income or profit override someone’s need to be able to afford a home? Forget what everyone else is charging – charge according to your own conscience.
Being a landlord isn’t all about money or return on investment. There’s a social aspect to it. Peoples’ lives and wellbeing can be influenced positively or negatively based on your attitudes and actions. I encourage you to remember this as you manage your property and pray you would find a good balance of shrewdness, compassion and generosity.
Sarah Urmston is a follower of Jesus whose current season of life sees her fully occupied by raising two gorgeous young children with her husband Stephen. In moments when time allows for pursuits of the heart, Sarah loves to keep in touch with friends (especially thanks to Facebook), sing and play piano, and enjoy a good cup of tea.
Sarah Urmston previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html