Managing tenants is tough. You’re already trying to run a property portfolio and stay ahead of the latest tax and legislation changes, but you’re also battling against some ancient landlord stereotypes, and sometimes, some less than savoury tenants.
The key to good landlord tenant relationships is being able to silence the ego. This makes you open and receptive to new ideas, means you don’t take things personally but that you’re not a pushover either. This approach will help you gain the respect of your tenant rather than the begrudging acceptance you may be used to. Such a relationship can have far reaching benefits.
But how do you do it? How do you remove ego and build this stronger relationship? To answer that question, we’re going to visit a very unlikely source: Tech.
In the 1970’s Jerry Weinberg published The Psychology of Computer Programming. It was widely hailed as a seminal work that took a human approach to programming. In the book Weinberg proposed ten commandments that aimed to take the ego out of programming. We’ve left each commandment as it stands in the book but explained how you can apply them to your own landlord tenant relationships:
1. Understand and accept that you will make mistakes
It’s human and natural to make mistakes now and again. The trick is making sure that you catch mistakes early and that you learn from them and prevent them from reoccurring.
Accepting that you will make mistakes and taking ownership of them when you do will earn you the respect of your tenant and make them more open to admitting their own mistakes, ultimately preventing a lot of arguments.
It’s OK, we all make mistakes but how you handle them counts.
2. You are not your code
Or rather for landlords – you are not your properties.
Don’t take things personally. If a tenant reports a problem don’t assume they’re blaming you personally. Things go wrong. You are not your properties.
Explain this calmly to your tenant where the issue isn’t your fault and take ownership of any issues that are.
Removing the personal blame allows you to run your properties as the business / investment that they are. Taking things personally will increase your stress levels and this has knock on health effects.
3. No matter how much karate you know, someone else will always know more
If a tenant approaches you with something be open minded and receptive to their input. They may not know more or as much as you, but they may also have spotted something you haven’t.
It’s easy to dismiss tenants as knowing nothing about property management, that won’t always be true. Someone will always know more than you. Don’t use it as an excuse for ineptitude, don’t get angry about it, let it inspire you. Everyone is different and has different strengths, for every person who knows more than you, there will be someone who doesn’t know as much.
Don’t judge yourself by the knowledge of others, instead be receptive to their input and learn from them.
4. Don’t rewrite code without consultation
The idea behind this commandment is that it’s better to fix your code than to delete it and start all over again. If your code isn’t working it’s tempting to think it’s useless, but someone else might spot one simple mistake you’ve overlooked that fixes everything and saves you a bunch of time.
Don’t make huge plans for your properties without consulting your tenants (if they are in situ). If you want to make changes, be transparent and talk to your tenants about them. If you give them plenty of notice and include them in your plans and decisions, they’ll be much more likely to help you achieve what you’ve set out to do.
You could also apply this to your wider portfolio. Here at Landlord Vision we consult with the NLA and RLA and we often hear about landlords who get so overwhelmed by upcoming legislation that their first reaction is to sell off all their properties.
Selling up your portfolio is no small task.
If you’ve got tenants, this isn’t a great experience for them either as they’re faced with having to find a new home in a short space of time. There are a thousand things you can do before you consider selling up, consult with other landlords, talk to your tenants, read up about new legislation and how it affects you. Going through these processes might mean you don’t have to sell up or ‘rewrite your code’ someone else might come up with an idea or suggestion you’ve overlooked that makes all the difference.
5. Treat people who know less than you with respect, deference and patience
Some tenants have the opinion that all landlords are unrelenting and unfair individuals. Don’t re-enforce this stereotype with anger and impatience. Treat tenants with respect and patience and you’ll reap the rewards in the form of a stronger relationship.
6. The only constant in the world is change
Be open to it and accept it with a smile. Look at each change as a new challenge not as some serious inconvenience to be fought. Where possible prepare for change, encourage your tenants to let you know if their circumstances change and work with them to prepare for any changes ahead.
7. The only true authority stems from knowledge not from position
“Knowledge engenders authority and authority engenders respect.”
If you want your tenants to respect you, cultivate knowledge. This involves not flying off the handle if something goes wrong, explaining the reasons behind your actions and decisions and imparting knowledge to the tenant that they might not already have.
For instance, if you need access to the property to carry out maintenance and your tenant is being elusive, educate them. Explain why you need to carry out the maintenance, what will happen, how long it will take, how it will benefit them and the consequences of not carrying it out.
8. Fight for what you believe but gracefully accept defeat
It’s normal to have opposing opinions with people you are in a professional relationship with. Understand that sometimes there will be opposing viewpoints at play.
Sometimes you will be right, sometimes you will be wrong.
If you’re right don’t take revenge or say ‘I told you so’ or make the other person feel bad for being wrong. If you’re wrong don’t be angry, don’t let your ego take control of the situation, gracefully accept that you are wrong and move on. This helps diffuse any potential arguments and sets a great example for your tenants.
9. Don’t be ‘the guy in the room’
The stereotypical coder sits in a room all day writing code, never interacting with those they work with.
Don’t be that person.
It’s as true for landlords as it is for coders.
Get to know your tenants, involve them in decisions or actions that will impact them or the property they live in and people will trust you and thank you for your collaborative attitude.
Network with other landlords too. Any professional network you build can be a valuable source of support, resources and inspiration.
10. Critique code instead of people, be kind to the coder, not the code
In the same way you are not your properties, your tenants aren’t your properties either. Have a productive relationship with your tenants by not blaming them personally for things that go wrong.
Of course there are going to be incidents where they’ve deliberately done something wrong, but in the general course of things, reporting issues with the property etc it’s important not to jump to conclusions that the tenant has done something wrong, blame them personally for it, or immediately down-play the issue.
Take your tenant seriously, respect their input. In turn your tenant will be more open with you. Accept critique about the property, the way you run it and the ways you interact with your tenant. Remember there’s a line between critique and personal attack, if someone crosses that line let them know you’re feeling like they are blaming you and you’d rather discuss the property and their issues objectively.
Having an egoless relationship with your tenant is fulfilling, rewarding and a lot less stressful than the alternative!
Will you use the egoless commandments? Or have you got some of your own that make for excellent landlord tenant relationships? Share them with us in the comments.
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