As any landlord knows, finding a good tenant is hard work. You have to market your listing, show the property, collect applications, screen applicants, choose a tenant, and sign a lease agreement. It’s a time-consuming and costly process – particularly if the property sits vacant for any length of time.
Once you find a tenant, you want to do everything within your power to keep them happy. Happy tenants stay longer, complain less, and are more likely to pay on time. And while you have to make a long-term commitment to tenant retention, establishing a solid first impression on the front end goes a long way toward keeping renters satisfied throughout their tenancy.
7 Ideas for Welcoming a New Tenant
The first few hours of a tenancy are significant. If the renter has a bad experience, it’s going to put them in a bad mood. As a result, other problems, which may be small and innocuous, are magnified. On the other hand, if a tenant has a good experience the first day, it puts their mind at ease and makes them feel like they’ve made a wise decision.
Here are a few practical ideas for welcoming your new tenant. Try a couple of them and get things started on the right foot:
1. Set Clear Expectations
Before focusing on the different perks and welcome packages that can be presented to new renters, let’s get some of the administrative details out of the way. Specifically, you need to set clear expectations regarding move-in day so that tenants know what to expect. You don’t want there to be any surprises or question marks.
At least a week before move-in, send an email to your new tenant articulating how things will work. Provide the exact time they can arrive, how they’ll receive keys, when stuff can be moved in, how the transition of utilities will work, etc. The tenant shouldn’t have to call you and ask a bunch of questions – they have enough to worry about. Keep it clear and simple.
2. Draft a Welcome Letter
It’s a good practice to provide every tenant with a welcome letter. It’s a nice gesture that makes them feel appreciated. A tenant letter also helps tenants remember and follow the rules. It’s a catchall for those questions that every renter inevitably has during the first couple of weeks.
Every tenant letter looks different, but we recommend addressing issues and questions like:
- Your new address is: 123 Main Street
- How to set up utilities
- A reminder of when rent is due and the late payment penalties that apply
- Information on how to pay rent
- How to report maintenance issues
- Reminders on rules related to pets, landscaping, etc.
- Information about the neighborhood (nearby supermarkets, home stores, etc.)
- Quirks about the property
- Contact information
Use a generic draft, or feel free to personalize the letter for each tenant. The most important thing is that you provide adequate information and make renters informed.
3. Include a Welcome Package
In addition to the welcome letter, you can include a welcome package or gift basket. This makes the experience feel a little more personal and inviting.
You can purchase a gift basket from a company, or you can make your own with different items that you deem tasteful and appropriate. (Remember, if you give a gift for business purposes – and a gift basket qualifies as such – you can deduct up to $25 per person per year. Anything over this amount isn’t tax deductible.)
4. Provide Basic Toiletries and Items
Take a new tenant’s welcome experience to the next level by stocking the bathrooms with basic toiletries and supplies. This may include toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, lotion, shampoo, and toilet paper. It doesn’t have to be a lot – just a few sample items like you’d find in a hotel. This is a nice, inexpensive touch that makes a positive first impression.
5. Have Dinner Delivered
When you meet with your tenant to welcome them to the property, let them know that you want to purchase dinner for them that evening. Ask them if they have a favorite restaurant in the area and schedule a delivery. For tenants who are new to the area, suggest your favorite restaurant.
6. Stock the Refrigerator
There are certain items that tenants can’t bring with them when they move-in. Food is one of them. And if there’s something tenants don’t want to worry about on the first day, it’s making a trip to the supermarket. Do them a favor by stocking the refrigerator with some basic items like water bottles, frozen pizzas, fruit, yogurt, milk, eggs, and ingredients for making sandwiches.
For $50 to $100, you can buy a pretty decent amount of groceries. View this as an investment in your tenant. It’s something they’ll enjoy for a few days and remember for many months. It’s a small investment for a powerful return.
7. Add a Personal Touch
What do you know about the tenant? Did you learn something about them during the application process? Use this information to your advantage and provide some personal touches upon move-in.
For example, does your tenant have a favorite football team? Providing a team blanket or piece of themed décor is sure to grab their attention. Did the tenant mention that they love a certain restaurant or store in town? Give a small gift card with a handwritten note.
Personal touches go a long way and show that you view your tenants as more than sources of income. People like to feel like people. A human touch is always worth the price you pay.
Partner With Green Residential
At Green Residential, it’s our mission to help Houston-area real estate investors and landlords protect their investments and maximize their returns. We understand the importance of keeping tenants happy and work closely with our clients to provide positive experiences that improve retention rates.
For more information on how we can help you, please contact us today. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free Houston property management analysis.