A report published recently aired many tenant grievances and seemed to indicate that most landlords are doing "the wrong thing".
The report received a lot of press coverage, but unfortunately that's not surprisingly given there does seem to be a bias when it comes to the tenant/landlord relationship in the media.
In fact, the media's use of the term "greedy landlord" is one that irks me often because in my experience the vast majority of property investors try to do the right thing by their tenants.
While I'm not saying that the report doesn't shine a light on some potential tenancy issues, we weren't privy to the questions that were asked nor the demographics of the survey participants.
Another interesting factor was the survey was commissioned by tenant and affordable housing lobby groups.
Media reporting on the survey results said that fears about potential eviction, blacklisting, and rent hikes were stopping one in seven Australian tenants from making complaints about or requesting repairs on rental properties.
One story even said there is an “entrenched culture of fear among renters” and that the significant power imbalance between landlords and tenants must be addressed.
Hmm…something serious to think about...
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not picking holes in these survey results, because such alarmist claims do confirm that many tenants are unhappy.
Instead, I think the report provides us with an opportunity as investors to try to do better.
How to be a good landlord
The number one thing that all property investors need to remember is that without tenants the system just doesn't work.
The bottom line is successful property investment, and financial independence, comes via cash flow (that is rent) to cover your repayments during the many years that your investment grade portfolio increases in capital growth.
Without it, well, you'll go broke pretty quickly.
That's why I believe that the vast majority of landlords try to be good.
They understand the equation and recognise that an empty investment property is no good to anyone.
What is boils down to is being responsive to reasonable tenant repair requests and maintaining your properties to a good standard.
And the best property investors, of course, use professional property managers to look after their portfolios on their behalf.
That way, not only can they respond to any tenant queries or issues, they are responsible for adhering to legal requirements as well as any changes in the relevant legislation, which does seem to happen quite a lot.
The bottom line
The lesson from reports such as this one is that happy tenants are always better than unhappy ones.
Happy tenants pay their rent on time, look after your property as if it was their own, and generally stay for the long-term.
All investors want tenants like that living in their properties.
And as landlords, we all need to take responsibility for providing safe, secure, and well-maintained properties, that are professionally managed, so we know we are keeping up our end of the bargain.