Chandler and Phoenix Property Management

Communication Tips for Rental Property Owners (Part II)

This is the second entry in a blog series discussing communication between owners, or property managers, and tenants. In our last blog we discussed several communication tactics for filling vacancies and, using these tactics, we are sure you can find excellent tenants.

Once you have these tenants, your communication with them is still important because, by communicating well, you will increase your chances of getting a positive return on your investments.

Competent Communication

According to communication experts, communication competence is the ability to do three things. First, you need to be adaptable. This means you should be able to alter and change your communication according to different situations and people. Second, you need to be appropriate. This simply translates to following social norms. Third, and finally, you need be effective. That is, you should achieve your goal for the interaction.

Being able to use competent communication with tenants is crucial to your business. With competent communication skills you will be able to have difficult conversations with your tenants with a greater rate of success. For example, if you believe your tenant has made a mistake or taken an action that resulted in damage to your property, being able to respond with competence can lead the conversation in a better direction. Yes, yes, we know that when someone damages your property or in some other way hurts your bottom line it may be difficult to have a competent response, but it is still important to do your best (and yes, swearing, yelling, or any other overt signs of anger is typically seen as inappropriate).

So let us make competent communication easier by giving you a few tactics:

First, remember your end goal, because without this it is quite difficult for you to be effective. Think - do you want to get rid of the tenant? Do you love this tenant and want to keep them living in your rental home for the next 10 years? There are indefinite situation/tenant combinations and a quick assessment of your goal for the relationship is important.

Second, take a bite from an apple. No, not the fruit - the computer company. Apple teaches their employees a tactic called the feel, felt, found strategy. To illustrate how this is used, let’s imagine that your tenant, Matthew, has a lease ending and you need to raise the rent because your rent is currently below market value. Of course, Matthew is upset. But since you read this blog you say:

Feel: “Matthew, I can see how you would feel upset. I know that the rent increase won’t be easy on you.

Felt: “I have certainly felt the same way when I have had business rates raised on me in the past…”

Found: “However, what I have found is that the market in (city) has become quite competitive and that this is the low end of the standard rate for the area. I know you’re happy here and I would love to keep you as a tenant, but I have to raise the rent and I can understand if you need to move somewhere else.”


(Note that the "feel" step doesn’t say “I know how you feel,” because you don’t, you aren’t having your rents increased and there isn’t a possibility you are going to have to move from your home.)

So why does this work? Simply put - it illustrates empathy. It shows that you understand their position and, in turn, they are more likely to see yours.

Third, and finally, you have to be adaptable, a core component of communication competence. This can sometimes be difficult when you have a tenant who has a very different personality from yours or who is from a different part of the country or world (a situation that might present intercultural challenges).

One very easy way to overcome this is by actively welcoming and finding excitement in engaging people in conversation who are from other walks of life. You should already be willing to rent to anyone because it is the right thing to do, but you can also improve your business, and your life, by actively engaging your tenants and learning about their backgrounds.

This will do two things for you. First, you will connect better with your tenants, which will motivate them to stay and do what they can to take care of your property. Second, this offers you the benefit of learning about different types of people and different parts of the world, which is often very personally rewarding.

Sometimes you will have difficult tenants. At which point you should ask yourself - is the tenant really being difficult, or am I just not communicating well? Nobody is perfect, so chances are that asking yourself this question will sometimes result in some much needed self-reflection about your current communication skills. In the cases when you need to improve, practice these skills and, in time, they will become part of your natural behavior. That said, there will be times when full-out conflict is inevitable and you will need to be able to effectively manage the conflict. This is a skill we will cover in our next post in this series.

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