Sometimes we can be afraid to tell our landlords the whole honest truth during difficult situations like tough market conditions, difficult tenants, damaged property, maintenance and improvements needed, and rent arrears.
Often we think we are protecting them, sometimes we may be afraid of blame. What if they think it’s our fault? What if they don’t listen? And then, there can be a fear ... What if we lose the management?
But when we sugar-coat problems, pretend everything is fine or omit some difficulties, we may actually be making our job harder in the long run. The landlord may not fully understand the gravity of the situation, as they have been protected and sheltered from the truth the whole way. This may make it difficult for them to take our advice or have trust in us. We then become frustrated with them when they won’t listen.
The key when providing honest feedback is to avoid simply dumping tough or negative news on the owner. Instead, use the opportunity to show you have an action plan in place. Explain you want to be transparent about the situation and assure them there's no reason for alarm because their situation is common and we, as the experts, have a plan to overcome the obstacle or challenge.
If they are confident we have it covered, and you have just been honest and are acting in their best interest, the benefits will be two-fold. It shows you have the situation under control, which in turn reinforces to them the value of having a property manager.
The best relationships (whether with our landlords or the people in our personal lives) are built on communication concepts such as honesty, trust and transparency. If you can be honest and transparent in a tactful way, you will generate respect and trust with your landlord, and you'll be surprised how much more willing they will be to listen to your advice and guidance.
The word “tactful” is important here, as we may need to think about the way we phrase things and how we use our tone, our choice of words and how the message is received.
Using a few simple phrases such as, “Jenni, can I give you my honest opinion here?”, “Tom, I am going to be blunt and to the point, is that okay?” or “Are you happy for me to give you honest feedback?” will help set a buffer for the message you are about to deliver and gain the respect of your client.