The power of NO!
Very early on in the learning curve for every neophyte property investor comes the stark lesson in saying no to your tenants. Some property investors are born naturals at saying no to others. Others, myself included, have a difficult time learning the process. Eventually, all property investors come to the same realization: their time is valuable. And unless you want your time frittered away by increasingly demanding tenants, you have got to learn to say no to their requests. The case to be made to them is simple: if you’re going to act as your own property manager, this will be reflected as part of their overall rent.
Emergency calls only
Obviously, we’re not talking emergency situations here. A call from a tenant late at night due to a burst pipe, while unwelcome, is ultimately going to save you money in the long run. After all, the sooner you can take care of damage to your building while it’s occurring, the less overall damage will occur. In the same vein, “lookout” calls from tenants alerting you to a soon-to-be emergency should be welcomed as well. For example, a constant toilet leak in their unit should be taken care of by a handyman or plumber straight away, , or a problem with a hallway light that goes on and off intermittently could be the sign of a major electrical issue that needs fixing by an electrician immediately as well.
Are you a tenant “enabler?”
Rather, it’s the unwanted, “enabling” calls by tenants that new property investors need to get used to saying no to their tenants. Included in this category are calls about simple operational matters. If you leave instruction manuals for all the unit’s appliances, as an example, you should not get a c all from a tenant asking how to turn on the range, or air conditioner, etc. I you do you must learn to say no – politely. And have them refer to the instruction manuals themselves. If you don’t you will be making constant trips to your units to assuage the stupidity and laziness of your tenants. And if you do it even once, you’ll certainly be “rewarded” with a second, third and increasingly more annoying calls over the simplest things involving their unit.
Training your tenants
You really have to draw the line at emergencies, or soon-to-be emergencies. Train them when before you sign their lease. Go over your expectations of when you can be called. While tenants should absolutely have your cell phone number to reach you quickly in case of emergency, it is totally up to you to train them to respect your boundaries as the landlord. Otherwise, you will most certainly be fielding calls from multiple tenants, in an exponentially increasing fashion, as they “lean” on your advice and good counsel with each passing day, week and month of their tenancy. In effect, you do not want to become a tenant “enabler,” who teaches them it is OK to contact you for every small issue that may arise. Say no, and train your tenants well. You’ll be saving yourself a great deal of time and effort in the process.
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