The news that one in four tenants wouldn’t tell their landlord if they caused significant damage to their rental property is enough to strike fear into the hearts of landlords and agents everywhere. 
As should the follow up fact, that one in ten tenants would go on to try and fix the issue on their own. 
Other than a desire to get handy themselves; the driving factor behind this tenant deception is a lack of trust in their agents and landlords and a fear of the consequences of coming forward. Agents need to act urgently to improve levels of trust between themselves and their tenants or run the risk of failing to do their jobs properly.
So, how do good agents establish trust with their tenants?
1/ Clear lines of communication
If a tenant doesn’t know their agent, how can they be expected to trust them? The worst thing an agent or landlord can do is become faceless to their tenant. While we don’t advise popping around for tea, biscuits and a chat, it’s imperative that agents build a relationship and a rapport with tenants.
For consistency agents should ensure the same team member deals with the same tenants wherever possible.
2/ Increasing transparency
One of the main reasons tenants gave for not owning up to issues in the property, was a fear they’d be overcharged for their resolution. Agents who increase their transparency when it comes to dealing with repairs will find their tenants are much quicker to trust them.
Consider providing a detailed breakdown of repair costs as well as sharing contractor details. This should persuade tenants that any repairs charges they incur are reasonable and that the agent is not out to cheat them.
3/ Building a reputation through word of mouth
Establishing a reputation is infinitely easier for large companies with bigger budgets and a greater high street presence, but smaller agencies can also build a reputation to increase tenant trust levels.
Reinforcing branding by sponsoring local teams or enterprises is one way to enhance a reputation but the best way is to utilise happy customers. Agents should encourage existing tenants to share reviews of their services and include the testimonials across their website and all social media.
4/ Get social
Using social media is an effective way for a smaller agent to build their brand and introduce themselves to tenants. Applications like Snapchat and Facebook offer live streaming capabilities. These can be used to help give tenants a behind-the-scenes look at the agency, which ties in with effective communication and increased transparency.
Using portals like LinkedIn to post interesting and informative views about property and targeted areas will further enhance an agent’s credibility.
5/ Quick repair resolution
Agents need to prove to tenants that it is worth their while to report problems and effective repair resolution is the simplest way to do so.
A repairs and maintenance software will allow tenants to report problems 24/7, and be confident that they will receive an immediate response. In many cases, the software can act as a guide, allowing tenants to resolve smaller issues, themselves.
6/ Proof is in the pudding
Agents should control their response when tenants do report issues, as that first reaction will set the tone for the rest of the tenant relationship. Agents should consider that no tenant actively wants to do damage to a property. Therefore, all responses to damage should be smooth and considered.
Teaming a measured approach with a swift and transparent solution is the best way to ensure tenants aren’t backwards at coming forwards with problems and more importantly, that they don’t try and get handy themselves!