Landlord Basics: Contact With Tenants

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(This post is part of our “Landlord Basics” series, which seeks to help the new landlord / investor understand some of the basics of tenant relations and property management. Click here to view the entire Landlord Basics archive.)

Contact with tenants is an integral part of ensuring your investments are taken care of.  As a real estate investor, you may have a varying level of contact with your tenants, depending on whether or not you use a property manager, and how much that manager handles for you.

If you are handling tenant contact yourself, you should have a separate phone number for all phone contact with the tenants.  If you are holding the property under your personal name, you may want to consider filing for a DBA for ficticious name, at the bare minimum, and use that name on your answering machine or voice mail.  This gives you the ability to sound more “official”, especially in the early stages when you may only have one or two properties.  You should also use this name on all the postal correspondance you send out.

Postal correspondance should be used for all official letters that your tenants need to recieve, such as updates on policies, copies of served notices, and other important documents.  Using your business name on all correspondance will help create that same official look and feel as with the telephone conversations.

Property Managers will often handle your communications for you.  You should find out the policies they have regarding both oral and written communications.  If possible, request that a log is kept of pertinent oral communications (both in the field and on the phone), and a copy of all written communication should be kept in the tenant file.  Maintenance requests, discussions regarding rent collection, payment agreements, and other pertinent conversations should be logged and saved, in case there is a need for the information in court.

Communicating with tenants is vital to your success.  Whether it is being handled by the investor, or a manager, steps should be taken to ensure that tenant communications are logged, protecting your assets for many years to come.

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