“You should write a blog on tenants!” my friend Nigar Nazar said, “Everyone has problems with them, and you are having such a good time.. You MUST write about it.” Ok, Nigar, I’m writing ……
Actually, I had told her how sad I was when my tenants were leaving, and how sad they were. It was the same when I mentioned my good terms with tenants to my property dealers. One of them said, “This is the first time I’ve heard this.”
Let’s see the principles and values behind business: Our Holy Prophet Muhammad was a businessman and very successful at it. It was because he was honest and kept the well-being of the buyer at heart always. Peter Drucker the great Management Guru has always said that “business is a service, first.”
The next principle is of ‘nip the evil in the bud’ devised by Shireen Gheba, which means to avoid a bigger ‘evil’ deal with the smaller one on time. When one of my tenants did not repair the kitchen tap costing Rs.1500, I ended up having to repair consequential damages worth Rs.10,000 instead! So, a small repair of Rs.1500 would have been more than welcome.
You see, I’ve got a ‘preventive strategy’ now. The major issues are water and repairs. If one deals with them amicably, in advance or along the way, you have avoided major issues later. Remember, it is a two-way benefit. If you provide water in a specially spiritual way as a privilege you are providing as sadqa-e-jariya. In the case of repairs, you are going to benefit in the long run, as ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ theory works.
Thanks to these, I was able to end one tenure of tenants on February the 28th 2017, and the next ones arrived on March 1st, 2017. This is another thing that my property dealer said was the first time in all their career! “I’ve never seen this in my life,” shaking his head unbelievably.
So, let me tell you how to go about it. I’ve just learnt through experience. Mostly, it has been a good time. Of course it hasn’t been perfect all the way, but I’ve learnt from my mistakes, taking them as opportunities for learning. So, this is how one can be on good terms with one’s tenants:
- Mentally be prepared about the ratio of income from rents: When you put a house or portion on rent, just expect to enjoy nine months of it. Keep aside three months’ rent for repairs, and inevitable problems like the place being vacant between rents, and cost of repairs and damages. If you are mentally and financially prepared for it, then you and your tenants will be at peace. It can easily be better, but take that as a bonus.
- First of all provide a good accommodation – the type that you, yourself would go for. Give the best, in the sense that when you are handing over, everything should be in good working order. The paint, plumbing, electrical fittings, etc . Just think, if you were moving in, how would you like it? So, do it. Always give the best and so you can expect the best. But it starts from ourselves first. I remember friends telling me I’m crazy to give a ‘foreign’ cooking range in the portion I’m renting out. I said, “Why not? I want them to get the best.” I got tenants who took such great care of it. Kept it shining, clean and in working order.
- Agreeing to the right rent amount: Firstly, I’ve found it is best to let property dealers put your house on rent. Even if you try yourself, it will only be property dealers who will come to you anyway. So, its better that way. Do remember not to get pushed by them either. They do tend to be a bit pushy.
- Be realistic about the rent. It is better to get good tenants, than ones who pay well but leave the place in a mess. Also there are factors like construction work going on around your house, which may reduce the value of your property for the time being. It could also be the construction of the road in your area. So, the reality check is that you put it on rent at a lesser amount, rather than keep the place empty for months on end, hoping for a better rent which is not possible in the present. Once the rent is acceptable to both, then you will also get many who will offer you more. But then, keep to your word and contract.
- Make sure you choose the right tenants:
- Smaller families are always preferred. Be clear about the gender and age groups of children you plan to ‘accept’.
- Choose tenants with good references. I mean, when you get talking, invariably, there are a few mutual contacts. Call them up and get a feedback. In one case, I got a bad feedback, but still I gave them. I had a ‘good’ gut feeling about them. They turned out to be my best tenants!
- Good back ground and field of work. This includes good jobs. I chose a professor, General Manager of a well-known company, an airline pilot, and now someone in IT field.
- Make sure the contract is written properly. Anything that you are sensitive about, must be clearly written in it. The contract is easily available. It is also a reasonable one. You can make your own changes too. Be fair to your tenants and to yourself. Adding items which include your latest learnt lessons in it! 😉
- Payment schedules: Best tenants are those who pay annually or half yearly. Second best are the ones who give quarterly, or bi-monthly. Last come the monthly ones. It is all okay as long as they pay on time.
- Receive them with grace: When they are moving in, try to send a token of welcome like snacks, or a basket of fruit. Continue the good feeling during the rest of the year by good wishes on special occasions. Sending dishes of food and snacks off and on during the year. Food is a very nice way to maintain good terms with neighbors, tenants and friends.
- Solve water issues properly: I’ve taken water issues into my own control and even pay the bills for the electricity of pumps and maintenance. I’ve fully automated the water system, and my staff takes care of it. If there is any type of breakdown, I’ve taken full responsibility for it. So, that saves me from all related issues.
- I’ve taken up not only all the structural repairs but the minor ones also. I keep the bills for the minor repairs, which I do time to time. At the end, they are usually willing to pay it.
- Regularly check water and electricity bills: Make sure these are being paid. If not, investigate well in time. Keep photocopies of a few of the bills. So that you are in picture of their payments.
- Be connected with a maintenance team: I have an excellent team. With one phone call I get the painters, plumbers, carpenters and everyone ready to work . They complete their work in record time.
- Bid farewell to them with grace also: It is vital to end a relationship with grace and dignity on both sides. Try to ‘forgive and forget’ a few lapses here and there. Look at the good times. Sort out any grey areas honestly with them. It is best to talk face to face about serious issues brewing up or which were over looked earlier. Remember, the ‘security’ is for this purpose. So be fair to them, and make sure they are fair to you too. Try to end the relationship again with a meal or snacks sent to them when they are packing up or leaving.
I’ve had tenants sending me gifts, taking care of me, telling the guards to manage security of my house also. I’ve had tenants actually crying because they had to leave. I’ve had them completing the repairs even after they left. Usually, I send them their mail when it arrives after they leave. Several of them leaving with hopes of coming back again – what more could I ask for in life?
Stay blessed with good tenants my dear reader. Believe me, it can be a great experience. 🙂
Spot on. Reminded me so much of my father; he always gave to small families from educated background inproper jobs. Saved a lot of hassle really at the end. Abu was an excellent cook and baker and would spoil them with his goodies. I’m still in contact with few of our old tenants who left for other countries or cities and they are all praise for what a wonderful landlord my father was. Taking care of essential needs of home not only make the tenants happy but will also keep ur own home in good condition: totally essential 😊❤
Thank you Asma for your wonderful comment. I love hearing from my readers who share their own story with me. You are so right, making repairs while one’s tenants are there, (even those repairs that are not for me to do,) eventually benefits me. I remember, I’d lose one month’s rent (at least) and the cost of repairs after they left! So, it is great. Your tenants too feel good that you are doing things which were for them to do. Also, you know, when they do repairs, they try to do it in the most ‘reasonable’ way. That too gets costly! Oh well. Thank you so much. I’m sure your Dad is a wise man. Stay blessed, all of you.