Landlord as Leader

As a landlord/owner of multifamily rentals, you are probably thinking about many things—tenant screening, building maintenance, finances, vacancies and more.  What you may not realize, is that you also need to think about becoming a leader.  People like to know that someone is in charge, especially when there are more than two household living on the property.  When you bought the property you became the person in charge and things will go a lot better if you embrace your leadership role.

It is a little hard to describe what it means to be a leader of an apartment building, which is probably why no one talks about it.  I get phone calls from my tenants about things that really have nothing to do with me, but it seems to make them feel better to tell me.  The other day a tenant called me to describe a situation involving her dog and a neighbor’s dog.  Interestingly, it was the tenant who called me whose dog was not on a leash.  Really, all I could do was listen.  There was not a problem for me to solve or any follow-up needed.  She was just rattled and needed to process with someone.

Sometimes there is a more critical issue that needs to be addressed.  Yes, it’s true, you might have someone get arrested at your apartment complex.  In these unfortunate cases, the best thing you can do is to communicate with the other tenants in a proactive and professional manner.  A leader does not perpetuate the rumor mill, but instead shares relevant and useful information.  Or maybe it is something more benign, like a maintenance project that you can inform your tenants about in advance. Sharing the details about timing and duration of the project and thanking your tenants for their patience and understanding can go a long way.

As the owner and/or manager, you are the only one with a bird’s eye view of the property. Your awareness of how specific events impact your tenants’ homes and your willingness to show up as a leader can have a profoundly positive impact on your apartment community.

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About Learn to Be a Landlord
I currently am a real estate investor in Spokane, WA. I own and manage 79 rental units. My background is not in business, but in social services and community organizing. I also had way too much liberal arts education. Somehow that all fits together to make me a landlord!

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