This article was posted on Tuesday, Oct 01, 2013

A landlord shared how it was fun to be a landlord and she shared the following recent experience of what she is doing to help make her relationship with residents a  positive one from the start. Thanks Gina (VA) for sharing!

“Had a new tenant move in during April and surprised him with a ‘Welcome Home’ cake in the fridge and some cold sodas for his moving helpers. It was a hit. ;)
After conducting the business side of our little walk-through inspection, It was a fun way to start off a positive relationship and say, ‘I’m glad you’re here!’
I stole the welcome present idea from a Mr. Landlord seminar. Considering the reaction from my new resident for less than $20, I think I will be doing that every time.”
Another landlord gave a response to such a gesture that is typical, discounting the value of doing little “extra” things to foster a positive relationship. Below are his comments:

Other landlord’s response: “Gifts are nice if you want to do them. On the topic of retirement accounts: I’ve put well over 6 figures into my IRA, but never received anything from my broker/adviser. A 6-pack of beer would be nice, although I’d just prefer that he keeps on doing a good job making me 15% each year. I see landlording kind of the same.  A case of soda and a cake is fine.  Some residents will appreciate it, some may not. As long as I keep things functioning properly, that’s what really matters.”

My follow-up response to the other landlord is this: “I personally think there is a VAST difference between how your relationship with your broker works and the ‘potential’ relationship between landlords and their residents. However, most landlords don’t really leverage the BIG value of having a great win-win relationship with their residents.  There are so many intangible ways that a resident can make your life far more profitable and worry-free if they chose to do so (above and beyond just functioning normally).  Doing little things to foster a positive relationship can greatly increase the odds that they will do such intangible things like:

  • Take better than average care of the property and even be much more likely to do things that adds to the value of the property.
  • Refer ‘multiple’ other residents to you.
  • They are far less likely to sue you or contact housing/heath departments.
  • They are more likely to be courteous when calling, to call at your preferred office hours, and they are less likely to call in anger.
  • They are much more likely to stay with you longer.
  • Quick to alert you about something you really need to know about regarding another resident (in multi-units).
  • Give you plenty of advance notice before they have to move.
  • Cooperate and even be positive when you wish to show the property to others.
  • When they move-out, they’re much more likely to leave property in move-in condition.

Again there are so many intangible ways landlording can be made so much more enjoyable by the actions of your residents and I credit many of my own such experiences to the positive working relationships I aim to foster as mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Does this work with every resident? No, but it works FAR more than many landlords think.
And if you screen the right way, (which is a whole seminar in itself) you can identify the kinds of residents who are more prone to respond to your acts of kindness with many intangible benefits to you. And YES, this is indeed when it gets FUN being a landlord!  On a side note, I think your broker (like many business people) could also leverage the value of their customers much more than they do, and would greatly benefit you if they did so.” 

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Use Color and Get Your Money    

I got a call on the 5th from one of my newest residents who told me rent won’t be paid until he gets more money on the 18th! Say what?!  So I told him sorry, the mortgage company doesn’t take excuses, so that is not acceptable – it’s a violation of the lease terms and I will have to start the eviction process.
He didn’t seem very concerned, so I took my lunch break from work to tape a bright red neon Notice to Pay or Quit letter to the door; the kind of color you can see a mile away and had it sent via certified mail.

When he got home that night to discover it, he called me in a complete panic to tell me his parents were wiring him rent money and that I will have it all by Sunday. Here it is, Sunday the 9th and I have the full rent and $75 late fee in the bank.
He even sent me an apology text saying he was so sorry he did that and it will never happen again, and that he will be more prepared (I can hope).
It felt empowering to take something the resident was trying to make my problem– and have the knowledge of how to throw it right back to them but in a cool, calm, and collected way.  Also it felt good that I wasn’t being held hostage or having to play a victim to see what would happen on the 18th, or to figure out what to do to start the process! I think a lot of private owners would have just waited it out, hoping for the best, while feeling like a bit of a doormat.

Ways to Deter Vacancy Break-Ins

  • Install  motion lights, fake security signs, and a hundred dollar camera system   from Amazon.
  • One of the handymen who does work for me (been with me for 10+ years) is willing to stay in my      empty units during rehab. I just provide him with a bed, a TV, and a few      other things. Perhaps you can find a similar person.
  • Talk to several of the neighbors, adults who have lived there awhile, who know the area and have      a good idea of what’s going on.
  • Keep it well locked, and rotate the lighting.
  • Put an (extra) car in the driveway.
  • Get yourself two radios.  Dial them into the same talk radio channel and put one at the front door      and one at the back.
  • Go to Goodwill and find two pairs of size 14″ or bigger work boots. Put a pair outside on each      porch with a couple of spent shotgun shells.
  • We use a portable monitored alarm system from Lasershield that uses an integrated cell      phone. They run a few hundred and $25 a month.
  • One of the speakers on      the CDs from the recent Convention suggested installing an      alarm system, even if it isn’t monitored, and then pretend to adjust it      and set the alarm off several times when neighbors are around. His      reasoning was that most break-ins are perpetrated by locals and      “announcing” the presence of the alarm system reduces the      likelihood they’ll target that property.
  • Put curtains and blinds      then install a couple of lights on timers so the house looks as someone      lives in. Be sure all newspapers are picked up as the house would be like      someone is living there.
  • I have lights on timers.      A radio playing. Blinds so no one can look in. In bad areas with vacant      properties I have an under carpet switch or on a door a motion sensor      wired to a 150 db alarm inside the house that cause a normal person to go      deaf -they run away and neighbors call the police and me.
  • I place large dog food      bowls, a dog house in back, a few Pabst Blue Ribbon empties for decoration      and maybe a bottle for cigarette butts at the vacant rental.
  • I purchased a game cam      which is a camera and motion detector. I set it to take pictures of the AC      unit and / or driveway. So far I have not been hit when it was installed.      It lets me see the people who have been in the yard. It moves house to      house without a monthly charge.
  • Mostly, keep the place      from looking abandoned. Cut the grass, keep it clean and nice, porch      lights on, blinds and lights inside, etc.

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular Q&A forum, and by real estate authors. To receive a free sample of Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at, where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.

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