Strategic Use of Memos to Manage Tenants

Update on “Best Real Estate Investing Blog” Contest

The results are in for the Best Real Estate Investing Blog Contest, and while I did not win, I took the loss in stride, with a minimal of gratuitous moping and whining.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who voted for my blog. Thank you for your support!

Congratulations to Susan Lassiter-Lyons at The Investor Insights for winning the blog contest!

Memos and Tenants

A light, tender, sensitive touch is worth a tone of brawn.

–Peter Thompson

As I mentioned in an earlier post, when we hear our tenants humming “Stairway to Heaven” that’s a sign that they may be  they ready to move on.

However, my wife and I do everything in our power to keep them from ever even consider moving. We want them to stay forever! It’s the best way to keep our business operating smoothly and profitably.

In the rental house business, we use a light touch when communicating with tenants. A phone call is good when you need to quickly get in contact with your tenant, but if it’s not an urgent matter, our preferred means of communication with tenants is by sending them memos by regular mail.

Use the low-key approach

For example, if the tenant is not keeping up the yard work around their rental property, as agreed upon in the rental contract, we will write them a note in a calm and respectful manner identifying the problem. We may make a reference to the section of the contract that requires them to keep up the yard (but only if they are a repeat offender), and describe what needs to be performed to meet the terms of the agreement.

A phone call could easily put them in a defensive position, and turn into a heated conversation, which is the last thing we want. With a memo, the tone stays calm and the point gets made. And, we have a written record of what we have told them that we keep in the tenant’s file folder.

Keeping tenants informed

We keep our tenants informed about activities that we have planned for their property. We will usually call and let them know well ahead of time if we plan to do some preventative maintenance, on the roof, for example. If a plumber cancels an appointment, we’ll call them so they are not waiting around all afternoon for no reason. It’s really just practicing common courtesy.

As an example, here is a memo that I recently sent to two of  our best tenants:


Date: November 5, 20xx
To: xxxx and xxxx
Location: 2551 N. Banyon Blvd.
Re: Yard work

 This is just a friendly reminder that the front yard looks like it might need a little maintenance. I noticed that the weeds were starting to take over the yard a little.

 If you could tidy it up a bit, I’d appreciate it. If you need a weed wacker just let me know. I’d be happy to loan you one.

 I’m very grateful to have you as tenants. You have been really great about taking caring of the property.

 If anything comes up where you need any help with repairs or anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 (If you have already done this yard clean up, please disregard this letter.)

With best regards,
Terry Sprouse




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19 Responses to “Strategic Use of Memos to Manage Tenants”

  1. Great idea Terry. I agree completely that it puts people in a “defennsive mode” when thet are blind-sided by a cold call. I am going to share your note on my blog.
    Sharon Vornholt recently posted..Amazing Entrepreneurs – Interview with Kelly PayneMy Profile

  2. I like your idea of using memos with tenants. We had landlords who would do that or just stop by and ask us about something. Then, we had those who would be complete jerks about something…those were the ones we left come due time.
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Frugal Friday: Posts That Ruled This Week, It’s December Already Edition!My Profile

    • Terry says:

      Thanks for that observation.

      Memos seems to be a good way to stay in touch with the tenants, while at the same time not being too intrusive.

  3. What a sweet way to tell someone to get it in gear. If you were talking in person or on the phone, you might start to be preachy. I really like this approach.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..The Sandman, Hypnosis, and The Village PeopleMy Profile

    • Terry says:

      Exactly. We don’t want to cross the line into making them feel like we’re breathing down their neck. We just want to use the least threatening way to get them to do the action that needs to be done.

  4. […] Strategic Use of Memos to Manage Tenants on Fix Em Up Rent Em Out […]

  5. Untemplater says:

    I agree that memos or emails are better than phone calls, especially as a first step. Using snail mail may also work better than email because the tenant can hopefully keep the notice out as a to-do reminder unlike emails that usually get lost in the shuffle after they’re read.
    Untemplater recently posted..Create A Profitable Online Store Course: An Interview With The Founder Steve ChouMy Profile

    • Terry says:

      Good point. A written notice can serve as a constant reminder to complete the necessary work. If a written reminder doesn’t work, I would follow up with a phone call, but that’s usually not necessary.

  6. […] Strategic Use of Memos to Manage Tenants on Fix Em Up Rent Em Out […]

  7. […] Strategic Use of Memos to Manage Tenants by Terry @ Fix em Up Rent em Out […]

  8. I think this is a great idea Terry. Tenants would be more apt to change etc when they receive a memo rather than someone ringing them on the phone or by other means. Mr.CBB
    Canadianbudgetbinder recently posted..Bank Sales In Canada ….. Not The Same As Bank Foreclosures In The U.S.AMy Profile

    • Terry says:

      MR. CBB,

      Thanks for the visit and the insightful comment. I think that using the most gentle means possible is the best approach, if your goal is to keep the tenants a long time.

  9. […] Fix Em Up and Rent Em Out- Strategic Use of Memos To Manage Tenants […]

  10. Terry,

    Thanks for posting that lawn maintenance letter. It does sound very amicable.

    You may not have won the contest, but know that you certainly have one follower that thoroughly enjoys your content. Just wish I could post as consistently as you do….

    Take Care.

    • Terry says:

      Thanks for the encouraging comment.

      I must admit that I go through cycles too when I run out of gas and don’t post very frequently.

  11. says:

    I really tend to go along with every aspect that was in fact posted within “Strategic Use of Memos to Manage Tenants recently posted..swdlc.orgMy Profile

  12. Elvia linares says:

    I have a month to month tenant, and I have noticed he has about 40 appliances, junk cars and welding supplies all over the yard, I have looked on landlord tenant laws in my state but have not found what notice to send him since I don’t have a lease, he’s a very aggressive tenant and I know a nice approach will not get me nowhere. Any advice wilk be appreciated.

    • Terry says:

      I would think your city has regulations that prohibit junkie yards. I would contact the city see if you can report the tenant for having trash on your yard. Of course, for the next tenant, make sure to have them sign a contract. In your contract you should include a statement about how expect them to take care of the yard and the penalties for non-compliance.

      Also, make sure the tenant pays a security deposit. That way if he doesn’t clean up the place when he leaves, you use his deposit to clean your property.