Excellent investors know that maintaining good relationships with your renters improves your bottom line. In most cases, choosing good residents from the start makes it easier to keep positive relationships throughout a lease term. However, when dealing with some of your more challenging renters, it can be tough to stay professional and prioritize a good relationship.
All of those dynamics can happen on a "normal" day of owning Maryland rental properties. What happens when an economic or health crisis (or both) strike? Working relationships with your renters can quickly deteriorate when it becomes hard to collect the rent or maintain business as usual during a crisis.
Investors need a plan to keep relationships positive throughout a crisis. When tough times hit, you have an opportunity to impress your residents with leadership and compassion—or lose your best renters because you took the wrong approach. When a crisis threatens to undermine your professional relationships with your renters, follow this advice from the experts!
Please note: This article is not intended to be used as direct legal counsel. When in doubt, you should always reach out to your attorney or your Maryland property management partner!
Put Compassion First
This idea might go against your need to enforce the rules, but consider putting compassion first in your communications and interactions with your renters while navigating a crisis.
You can still enforce the rules—and you should! However, a compassionate, empathetic approach can help you maintain good relationships while making sure your renters pay the rent and follow the rules in their lease agreements.
It's frustrating when residents stop paying the rent. In normal circumstances, not paying the rent results in assessing late fees and, if necessary, considering eviction. During a crisis, when your residents are struggling to pay the rent, they could be dealing with job or income loss that makes them choose between paying rent or putting food on the table.
Soften your approach when dealing with difficult rental situations during a crisis. Try:
- Letting your renters know you understand the circumstances that could affect their ability to pay the rent
- Updating your payment reminder language to address current crisis conditions
- Offering options to help them pay the rent.
In most cases, you'll find that your renters will respond positively to a compassionate property owner when times are tough. You don't need to be a pushover, but showing understanding and a "we're in this together" attitude can help you maintain positive relationships with your Maryland renters!
Don't Forget To Communicate
Silence can instill fear in your residents. There's a school of thought that recommends not saying anything until you have a plan or know exactly what to say. However, the longer you delay proactively communicating with renters during a crisis, the more likely your renters will grow uneasy about policies and procedures.
Making a Crisis Communication Plan before a crisis hits can help you with the words to say and the timing of when to communicate. You'll update the content of your communications, depending on the crisis. However, an idea of what to do and say in case of a crisis can help you start critical communications.
Your plan should include these recommendations from Maryland property management:
- An initial acknowledgment of the crisis: Let your renters know you understand what's happening, and you're working on a crisis operations plan.
- Updates as you develop your plan: Your residents need to know your availability, how the crisis affects rental payments, and what to do about maintenance requests.
- A schedule to communicate throughout the crisis: You don't need to send daily emails, but make sure your renters hear from you consistently as you work through a crisis together.
Proactive, consistent communication helps build relationships that last beyond a crisis!
Consistency goes beyond communications. Investors should maintain consistent daily operations throughout a crisis—as much as possible. Your renters need stability, and the rules don't change just because of crisis conditions!
With social distancing, Maryland property owners have to adjust operational protocols to keep their renters and vendors safe. While adjustments affected some regular practices, like how quickly you can address non-emergency maintenance issues, most routine tasks should carry on as usual during a crisis.
When operations must adapt to crisis conditions, investors should:
- Be cooperative with your renters
- Enforce the lease agreement rules—within reason
- Keep marketing, reviewing lease renewals, and offering the best service to residents
- Follow guidelines and monitor changes to regulations while adapting how (and when) you can enforce the rules.
Rental property owners who seamlessly adjust protocols and keep their renters safe and happy during challenging times can "win over" said renters when it's time to renew a lease!
Property Management Helps Prioritize
Until you've been through a crisis as an investor, it's challenging to know what to do to maintain positive relationships with your renters. Let the experts in Maryland property management at Renters Warehouse help! We already have plans in place to aid the investors we serve and quickly adapt when a crisis strikes.
Choosing Renters Warehouse BW Metro is the best way to navigate a crisis while maintaining good relationships with your Maryland renters! Learn more about what you can do as a rental property owner when you have renters struggling to pay the rent in a crisis. Get our free resource, the Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook!