It’s no coincidence that successful landlords use the best management strategies. In fact, there’s a direct correlation between these five good habits and the profitability of your rental business: 1. Quick response to repair requests. Can a leaky faucet lead to late rent payments? Believe it or not, the two are connected. Landlords who fail to respond quickly to repair requests or fail to maintain the property will find that, over time, tenants lose respect. That leads to more problem tenants. After all, if you don’t care about it, why should they? Quick repairs show a high level of customer service, and will lead to better tenant retention, a/k/a profits. In addition, this habit lowers cost, and protects the value of the property. And, in the event of an eviction, the good repair record will thwart a bad tenant’s attempt to delay, garner sympathy, or try to offset unpaid rent. 2. Respect tenant privacy. High on the list of tenant “don’t likes” is the landlord who drops in unannounced. These landlords face high turnover, and even costly lawsuits for breach of lease or invasion of privacy. Except for emergencies, you’ll need to provide notice of visits, and you’ll need to have a reason to be there. Follow the law and set a good example for your tenants. In return, you will have happy tenants who behave, and who refer their friends to the property. 3. Focus on tenant security. Making your tenants’ security a priority, whether it’s diligently re-keying locks, maintaining outdoor lighting, clearing weather off sidewalks, monitoring visitor access, or running criminal background checks, will pay off by attracting — and retaining — the best tenants. 4. Stay in touch It is impossible to build a good relationship with your business customers — your tenants — if you do not communicate regularly. Create a flow of routine communications, like e-newsletters, a website or social media pages, sending rent receipts and monthly invoices, providing a suggestion box — anything that proves you are present and accounted for. By building rapport, you will be the first to hear complaints so they can be quickly resolved. You will find out about maintenance issues, or problem tenants. You also can generate more tenant referrals and fill vacancies more efficiently. 5. Strive to give back the deposit. Some landlords believe that there is little risk of losing money over property damage, so long as they charge a high deposit. Because security deposits are so strictly regulated, it is impossible to make withholding deposits into a profit center. Where damage does occur, often the deposit doesn’t come close to covering the full cost. But if you set your sights on returning the money, you’ll be sure to set management policies that encourage a unit to be returned clean and ready for the next tenant. That means spelling out the tenant’s obligations in the lease agreement, checking up on the property throughout the term of the lease, and doing a preliminary walk-through about four weeks before the tenant moves out. You’ll have their forwarding address, because they’ll want their money back. Then, you’ll ask the tenant to do a formal walk-through with you at move out. If tenants believes it is realistic they’ll get their deposit back, they are far more likely to get all of their stuff out and clean the unit on the needed time line. You don’t lose any of your own money by returning the deposit, and you get the property back in move-in condition. It’s the ultimate win-win. American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for all your property management needs. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.