Better landlords attract better tenants. Why? If you consider your rental properties as a business, then your tenants are your customers. You’re providing a service that they’re paying for. In that case, wouldn’t you want to keep your best customers for as long as possible and attract new customers? Good landlords are able to keep long-term, qualified tenants.

On average, a landlord spends between 20 and 40 hours to fill each vacancy. That includes performing the advertising, showing the apartment, reviewing applications and credit reports and going through the leasing process (leases, move-ins, key exchanges, etc.).  Not to mention that you’d elect to only keep a tenant if they’re a good tenant, which means less time with maintenance issues or following up on late rent. Over the course of a year, a good tenant can save you 100’s of hours.

To get and keep a good tenant, you have to be an awesome landlord! Awesome landlords view their tenants as customers, always follow the law, and are willing to go the extra mile. So what do you need to do to become the best landlord you can be? These fifteen simple tips are a good place to get started.

Offer a Warm Welcome

1. Help the Tenant Get Adjusted to the Area

It’s quite likely that the tenant is new in town. Giving them an insider’s look at the town will help them adjust quicker. Give them a printout that gives directions to local grocery stores, pharmacies, and other facilities to smooth their transition. You can pull a list directly from any map service online. Once you’ve done this one-time for your property, you can use it again each year without re-creating it.

2. Write Them a Welcome Letter

Leaving your tenant a brief note welcoming them to the unit, as well as reiterating how happy you are to have them, will set the right tone for a positive lessor/lessee relationship. Be sure to write down your contact information again, just in case. Tenants will appreciate the gesture. Provide any special instructions for the apartment (when trash pickup / recycling is, contact information for cable and utility services, etc.).

3. Stock the Bathrooms

When the tenant is first moving in, the last thing on their mind is picking up some toilet paper. If you stock each bathroom in the unit with a roll of toilet paper and a soap dispenser, the tenants will be so grateful that you helped them out in a pinch. Also consider leaving a roll of paper towels and an all-purpose cleaner. This will encourage them to keep the place clean and let them know you also have cleanliness on your mind. However, don’t replace a proper cleaning crew with just a roll of paper towels.

4. Help Them Change Address

Including either address labels for their unit or change-of-address packets from the post office with your welcome letter will show the tenants that you think of the little things. They’ll love your foresight and will respect the thought that you put into it. They’ll also think of you as responsible and detail-oriented, two excellent qualities to find in a landlord. If you provide change-of-address instructions when they move out as well that will help prevent unwanted mail still being delivered that you won’t have to forward or throw away.

For more suggestions, check out our new post with 8 tips for welcoming new tenants into your rental property.

Be Professional

5. Dress Neatly

When first meeting your tenants, or while you’re still near the beginning of their residency, it is important to present yourself neatly. If you are clean and tidy, they will assume that you will keep the unit clean and tidy. Of course, after the tenants get to know you a bit better, this becomes less important, but in the beginning first impressions mean a lot.

6. Follow Lease Guidelines

Whenever there is a problem with the tenants, don’t just take matters into your own hands. Always, always, always follow the guidelines outlined in your lease since thats what everyone signed. If there are issues that come up that weren’t addressed in the lease, you can always refer back to your city’s local ordinances or check on local landlord forums for tips and best practices. This way, should they have any objections, you can make it clear that you are within your rights and are also doing what is consistent amongst other do-it-yourself landlords.

7. Keep Your Cool

If along the course of your tenant’s residency you find yourself in a large disagreement with your tenant, or if they don’t pay the rent on time or make major problems in the apartment, be sure to remain calm. You don’t want to be the next viral “crazy landlord” video on YouTube, or the next landlord horror story making the rounds on the internet. Never yell or swear at your tenant. It’s illegal to threaten your tenants or withhold their rights as a tenant. Also remember that the tenant is your customer.

8. They’re Your Tenant, Not Your Friend

Of course it’s great to have a friendly professional relationship with your tenant. But draw the line there. At the end of the day, the lessor and lessee have a purely business relationship. It is important to keep some emotional distance just in case one day you ever have to evict them or meet up against them in court. Remember: at the end of the day, what matters is the bottom line of your business. You don’t want to get overly caught up at the expense of the health of your rental business.

9. Be Consistent

Always follow the lease guidelines. Always respond to maintenance requests, even if it’s just to take a quick look. Always make the tenant feel respected. The tenant will think of you as professional and courteous.

Be Available

10. Be Accessible

Ultimately, if your tenants need to talk to you then you need to be there. That means offering multiple phone numbers (if you have them) and an email address at the very least. And although they shouldn’t abuse the privilege, tenants should be able to contact you at night should there ever be an emergency. Tenants should always be provided with multiple means by which to contact you, just in case. Besides, if the toilet was overflowing in your unit, you’d probably want to know about the issue before any major damage was done.

11. Walk Them Through the Lease

Even before the tenant has moved in you can establish yourself as a high-quality landlord. When it comes time for the tenant to sign the lease, be willing to walk them through it as they review the clauses. Communicate about the rights and responsibilities that both parties have in signing the rental agreement. This will get everything out in the open from the start, and show your tenant that you’re someone to trust.

12. Respond Promptly

Whenever a tenant calls or emails you, be sure to respond to them as soon as possible. It’s always important to remember that any interaction with your tenant is a business interaction, no matter how well you know them, and business etiquette calls for quick responses. If you know you are going to be away, say, on vacation, tell the tenant in advance that you may not be able to respond to any communication quite as quickly as before.

Get Online

13. Be Aware of Your Online Profile

There are a number of sites, like Yelp or ReviewMyLandlord, that allow tenants to post reviews of your services and your units. Be sure to monitor these sites somewhat. If you get a bad review, and the site allows you to respond, be sure to address it. If you have tenants that you get along with very well, encourage them to write you a review. On the contrary, if you don’t have any reviews online, it might be a good idea to get some. This is how many tenants confirm their impressions of you, or to form impressions before even meeting you. Call up some old tenants (if you have them) and ask them to write a brief online review for you. At the same time, don’t stress too much over it. Every landlord is bound to get a bad review here and there.

14. Offer Online Services

Online lease signing or online rent collection (two services offered by Rentalutions) are a great way to make things easier and more convenient for your tenants. The idea of renting out your units will be more attractive to them simply because of how easy you make it for them. Besides, don’t you want to give your tenant the ability to pay their rent more seamlessly?

15. Keep Electronic Copies of Everything

Any papers that you have your tenant sign, plus any other important documents related to your rental business or the unit, should be kept electronically. You never know when that one incredibly important document will go missing. Offering your tenant these electronic copies, all attached in one email that they can easily save with documents they can easily download, will definitely be appreciated.