By Neltah Mosimanegape

From the moment a prospective tenant contacts a landlord, either directly or through an agent, the commencement of a possibly long-term relationship begins. It is therefore, important for a landlord to strive to establish a good relationship with the prospective tenant from the onset.

The manner in which a tenant and landlord interact from the start usually sets the tone for their relationship for the duration of the lease. It is important for the landlord, or managing agent, to appreciate the unique personalities each tenant comes with, and this typically requires a significant amount of emotional intelligence when handling the different qualities. A good relationship can eliminate problems that may arise during the duration of the lease. As a lease agreement is a contract that both parties are obliged to uphold, both the landlord and the tenant can play a significant role in establishing a great relationship with one another.

For the landlord, the following should be adopted in an effort to maintain a good relationship with his/her tenant:

  1. Availability of landlord/Open communication: A tenant appreciates a landlord (or managing agent) that is easily reachable to attend to queries, complaints and/or concerns. Creating an environment whereby both the tenant and the landlord can openly discuss their expectations of the other party is vital for a good relationship. Furthermore, open communication allows for proactive management of the property, which improves the services offered.
  2. Regular visits to the tenant: As much as a tenant should not only see his/her landlord when there is a problem, a landlord should not only pay his/her tenant a visit when their rent is overdue. Friendly visits should be a scheduled every now and then, to maintain a healthy relationship, which goes beyond the ‘lease agreement’ responsibilities; keeping in mind not to encroach on the tenants’ privacy and space.
  3. Flexibility and rewards: A landlord should be willing to ‘bend the rules’ a little as well as offer rewards such as discounts on charges and lease renewal incentives, for a tenant who is in good standing. These small gestures certainly go a long way and make a tenant feel valued and appreciated, and do contribute positively to the retention of tenants.
  4. Speedy responses to maintenance issues: Maintenance reports by a tenant should be treated as urgent and attended to as soon as possible. Whether it is a small leaking faucet or a burst geyser, a tenant will appreciate the prompt response and displayed characteristic of reliability of their landlord.

The landlord, should carry out periodic ‘tenant satisfaction’ surveys which will help monitor the level of service delivery by the property manager.

A tenant can also play a role in ensuring a smooth relationship in the following ways:

  1. Adhering to rules and regulations: Adherence to the rules and regulations that govern the property shows that one is respectful of the landlord’s property, and is also mindful of the rights and privacy of fellow tenants occupying the premises too.
  2. Timely rental payments: How well a tenant pays is probably the single most important responsibility of a tenant to a landlord; therefore, honoring rental charges by paying on time, goes without saying. Tenants also need to remember that, a future landlord of a property owner may request references from previous landlords; an inconsistently paying tenant, will definitely be disadvantaged.
  3. Good relationships with fellow tenants: A tenant’s interaction with fellow tenants is a reflection of how well they can ‘live’ with others in the same space. This is especially true for occupants in a multi-occupied building such as a block of apartments or office blocks. In most cases, landlords would rather terminate a lease agreement with one unpleasant tenant, rather than losing a few other tenants. To a landlord, a stress-free, easy-going occupancy of their premise by one tenant is as important as that of their other tenants.

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