No one likes to give bad news, but with your tenants it’s a delicate art form to avoid potentially losing your clients. Whether you’re selling your rental property, increasing the rent, or are performing long term construction that requires the utilities to be cut off, you can generally expect that your news may cause frustration if not handled correctly. Learn some basic ways to prepare yourself before contacting tenants, so you can minimize the backlash and strengthen your relationships at the same time.
Should I give notice in person first?
As a rule of thumb, you should give all news in person and in writing. This not only allows you to keep record of the event, but it lets you confirm that your tenants acknowledge the situation in person. However, whether or not you should break the news in person first is another story. Regardless of if you have a good relationship with your tenants or not, the way you tell your tenants the bad news should match with how you have delivered all of your news up to that point. By keeping all contact the same, you’ll maintain a professional front and won’t alarm your tenants of the unexpected approach.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you need to tell your tenants about major maintenance that will occur in a few days, your tenants won’t care if you don’t usually contact them in person. They’re more worried about what action they’ll need to take because of the unexpected maintenance. The same goes for emergency situations.
Give your tenants time.
Make it your policy to give an adequate amount of advance notice whenever possible. For example, while your tenants might be upset that you’re selling your rental property, they will be even more frustrated if they only have one or two months to find a new home. Additionally, if you’re showing your property to potential sellers or having maintenance done, make sure you give the right amount of notice before entering their home. You can find out what your state’s required amount of notice is in any situation here. If your property is just undergoing major maintenance that isn’t necessary immediately, work with your tenants on a time frame that is good for both of you. Assembly the best time to begin maintenance is while your tenants are on vacation and at work, but consulting them before scheduling will give you extra brownie points.
Don’t shy away from questions.
If you’ve decided to deliver the bad news to your tenants in person (as well as on a written notice), then try your best to be understanding. Ultimately, if you sell your rental, raise the rent, or perform lengthy maintenance then you’re impacting their home. Significantly bad news can bring out a variation of emotions. Give as much notice as you can and answer any questions your tenants have, but understand that as their landlord you need to stay professional. It’s up to you to decide when maintenance should be performed, when to raise the rent, or sell your property, not your tenants.
Delivering bad news can be stressful, especially if they’re difficult tenants to begin with. Rather than focusing on how your tenants are going to take the bad news, think about your delivery and what ways would make them feel the most comfortable and respected. You don’t want the news to feel “sudden”, but do what you have to do as professionally as possible.
What’s the toughest bad news you’ve had to deliver to a tenant? How did you tell them and how did they take it? Let us know your experience in the comments section below and be sure to subscribe.