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The importance of a good relationship between landlord and tenant

In the past a tenant would only contact his landlord when reporting a problem, while the landlord’s main contact with the tenant occurred if the rent had not been paid or there was an upcoming increase in costs.

“It is of paramount importance that a healthy and amicable relationship between a landlord and tenant be nurtured in order to encourage easy communication between them at all times,” says Leon Breytenbach, National Manager of the Rawson Property Group’s commercial division.  When communicating with tenants it is essential that the landlord be courteous, respectful and professional at all times. This will reduce the likelihood of frustration or animosity arising when negotiations for a lease renewal are due or the parties need to discuss a problem or a need.

Engage with your tenant


It often happens that communication between the tenant and landlord only occurs when there is a problem to be reported, but this is not necessarily the best time to forge good relations. Be proactive; make time to meet with your tenant before problems arise. Get to know about his business; what his challenges may be and whether there are any preventative measures you should put in place. “Dealing with the problem at hand before it becomes a crisis or attending to unexpected problems when they are reported will go a long way to maintaining a good relationship with your tenant,” Breytenbach advises. You need to ensure that your premises are in an optimal state, thus allowing the tenant’s business to proceed without unnecessary interruptions.

Be dependable

Trust is the main foundation to any good relationship. If you arrange a meeting with one of your tenants, honour the commitment by being punctual, besides being willing to hear what they have to say. Show them you are open to any reasonable requests which will keep them happy. If you promise a re-vamp of the premises or if there is maintenance required, ensure that the action is carried out within the promised time-frame. “Showing reliability in dealing with your tenants, keeping appointments and delivering on promises is the best way to ensure their future trust in you,” suggests Breytenbach.

Safety and security

Check the property regularly for issues of safety and security. Failure to do this could result in an accident, with injury to a tenant, a client, or damage to equipment. Paving which has lifted poses a potential tripping hazard. Trees or branches which may fall onto parked vehicles, loose banisters or uneven stair-treads which might cause someone to fall,  all of these mentioned constitute a danger to the persons using the premises. Shrubbery in the garden should be  trimmed, security or electric fencing must be in working order and outdoor areas should be adequately illuminated in order to deter any criminal elements. Security cameras are a worthwhile investment in areas experiencing a higher crime rate. “Ensuring the property is safe and secure will encourage peace of mind, making for satisfied tenants,” says Breytenbach.

Efficiency


Business is becoming more customer orientated, requiring a more proactive approach. You may be a manager of a commercial property, yet it is important to keep your tenants’ needs in mind when making decisions regarding your property. “All regular maintenance, revamps or alterations should be done quickly and efficiently, minimising  inconvenience for your tenant,” suggests Breytenbach. This will be an advantage as your tenants will realise that you are considerate, efficient and reliable in your dealings with them.

Communication is essential

Miscommunication or misunderstanding will cause irritation which might result in a heated exchange between you and your tenants. To avoid this,  a regular newsletter would keep everyone informed about any upcoming events which might affect the smooth operating of their businesses. “A newsletter is also a great medium for advising tenants of any  upgrades or changes which you have effected in order to ensure their continued contentment and security,” says Breytenbach.

Accept suggestions

The landlord’s viewpoint of his building will differ from that of the tenants who will see it from a different perspective. It is helpful to listen to tenants’ suggestions and ideas. Discuss the merits of their proposals and listen to their reasons. “Give these suggestions careful consideration rather than dismissing them,” advises Breytenbach, “as many good ideas may come from tenants who probably approach the situation differently.” Once you have carefully considered their ideas, send them a written response showing your appreciation for their effort, whether or not you use their suggestion.

Documentation


“It is essential to document all communication between yourself and the tenant,” Breytenbach explains. This can prevent a disagreement over what was said in a previous communication, which could lead to a legal issue. Keep records of all meetings, whether planned or casual, all phone conversations, letters, e-mails or messages sent by whatever means, as some small detail could later become a major point of dissention. Complaints made by or against tenants should also be retained. The time taken to file these records will be well spent, if ever a dispute should arise.


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