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Landlords: 5 Tips for Tenant Retention

Landlords: 5 Tips for Tenant Retention

As a landlord, the reality is that it is always better (meaning cheaper) to keep a good tenant than to find a new one. A “good” tenant is one who pays the rent on time, takes good care of the property, and is a courteous neighbor. This is opposed to a “bad” tenant who does not pay on time, mistreats the property, and is a general pain-in-the-you-know-what, one that you can’t get rid of quick enough.

First, recognize that there is a difference in tenant retention between multifamily units and single-family homes. On average, single-family tenants will stay three years while multifamily renters will stay only one. According to the National Center for Housing Management, the turnover rate for apartments is 54% each year and is 30% for single-family homes.

So let’s explore some tips for landlords to keep their better tenants for longer than what the experts consider to be the average length of time.

Tip #1: Keep Up on Maintenance, Be Easy to Reach
The absolute number one reason that tenants decide to leave is when landlords are slow to respond to maintenance requests or are next to impossible to reach. It usually only takes one bad maintenance experience to cause a tenant to go shopping for their next place to live.

If your tenants call with a problem, get on it right away. And communicate your response. Phone the tenants to let them know that you have contacted the appropriate repairperson and the service is scheduled to occur on such and such date at a specific time. Thank them for notifying you about the issue so quickly.

Tip #2: Recognize Their Special Dates
Most landlords have rental applications that ask for birthdays for all family members. Also ask about anniversaries. Then instead just using this information for tracking them down later if they fail to pay, use it to recognize them on these special dates. A birthday or anniversary card shows that they are more than just a rent check to you. Sometimes, just an email or text will do. On holidays, you could recognize them by sending them a simple gift.

Tip#3: Offer Discounts & Renewal Incentives
It is always appealing to a tenant to receive a discount. The discount can be other than just paying their rent by a certain date. Many landlords buy local coupon books and give one to tenants when they first move in or each year that they renew.

Another type of discount can be something you may arrange or know of involving local merchants. Special deals like on Tuesdays there are two-for-one deals or a kids-eat-free night at a local restaurant. This is especially true if your tenants are moving in from out of town.

Renewal incentives can be a free carpet cleaning, or maybe a choice of upgrade items like a new dining room light fixture, adding ceramic flooring in the bathroom, or repainting the walls. Most of these are things you would be doing anyway if they moved out, in an effort to attract a new tenant.

Tip #4: Provide the Amenities Tenants Want
Quality of life is a major factor in deciding whether to stay or go, so make it hard to resist not staying. Offer features that tenants care about the most.

Younger generations live on the internet. High speed internet access is crucial to them. Offer covering the cost for the length of the new lease. An older couple may enjoy watching movies at home. Turn one area or room into a small home theater. You don’t have to go great guns, just provide a quality projector and screen.

Tip #5: Be Renewal Proactive
As the end date of a lease approaches, try to lock in renewals early. Approach tenants 90 days before the lease ends. Consider offering no rent increase or a discounted first month’s rent because they are “such good tenants that you would really hate to lose them”. Then throw in some type of gift certificate if they agree to renew early.

These 5 tips may help you keep your better tenants. If they leave, it may cost you more in the long run than offering an incentive to stay. And help you avoid a lot fewer headaches along the way. With good tenants, it’s okay to play favorites and show them a little appreciation.

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