Tenant turnover is the bane of most landlords’ existence. When a tenant leaves, you’ll need to spend hours cleaning the place up, hundreds of dollars placing ads and trying to market the unit, and on top of that, you’ll be left without a stream of rental income for as long as it takes to find a replacement tenant. After two or three rounds of this, you may become frustrated to the point you question why you even became a landlord in the first place.
While there will always be unexpected changes that force tenants out of your units (including job offers and family demands), tenant turnover is a variable you can control to some degree. Thankfully, reducing tenant turnover doesn’t have to be as complicated or expensive as remodeling your entire building; instead, a handful of simple strategies may be enough to keep your tenants happy (and paying rent longer).
Best Strategies to Improve Tenant Retention
Try using these strategies in tandem:
- Take your time finding new tenants. When your property becomes available, your first instinct will be to fill it as quickly as possible; but that approach may harm your tenant turnover rate in the long term, leaving your property empty for a longer period of time. Instead, take your time finding new tenants, screening them carefully and evaluating them based on their rental history and reasons for seeking a new place. Opt for candidates with a strong credit history, and ones who seem the most stable (with few job and apartment changes in the past). The more reliable your tenants are, the longer they’ll stay.
- Change the lease agreement. If you have a perpetual problem with tenant turnover, the root of the problem may be with your lease agreement; so, consider changing it. For example, if you currently offer month-to-month terms, and you find that most of your tenants bail within a few months, you could add a one-year or two-year minimum to entice longer stays.
- Build a relationship with your tenants. Your relationship with your tenants should be a professional one, but that doesn’t mean a relationship shouldn’t exist. Start your bond right by introducing yourself personally, and having a friendly conversation with your tenants. If there’s ever a problem at the property, talk to them personally, and communicate with them on a regular basis. Your tenants will feel more comfortable at your property, and will be more likely to bring up any problems they have.
- Be proactive about tenant satisfaction. Don’t wait for tenants to bring up every problem with the property on their own; instead, be proactive about ensuring tenant satisfaction. Send your tenants a message, asking them if there’s anything different you could be doing, or if there are any problems with the property. Stop by every few months for a personal check-in, and try to make yourself as available as possible. The longer a problem goes without being addressed or mentioned, the worse it’s going to get.
- Respond to any and all requests with urgency. Hopefully, your tenants will actively inform you when they’re experiencing a problem, whether it’s a maintenance need at the property, or a noise complaint in the neighborhood. Whenever you get a request for assistance or action, respond to it with a sense of urgency. You don’t have to drop what you’re doing and make the repair immediately, but you should let your tenants know that they’re important to you, and that you’re taking their requests seriously. Your tenants need to know you have their backs.
- Keep the curb appeal high. If you can, try to maximize the “curb appeal” of your property. People feel good when they come home to a building that looks nice on the outside (even if you can’t control what’s on the inside). Keep the lawn mowed and tidy, and consider planting trees, shrubs, and flowers to beautify the exterior. Wash the exterior of the building regularly, and occasionally add a fresh coat of paint.
- Be transparent. Whenever you take an action or make a decision, be as transparent as possible. If there’s a delay in fixing something wrong with the apartment, let your tenant know why. If you need to raise rent, explain the circumstances that forced you to do so.
- Reward loyalty. If you want your tenants to stick around as long as possible, make it rewarding for them to stick around. For example, you can resist rate hikes for as long as possible, or perhaps even offer a discount on rent the longer they stay with you. You could waive extra fees when appropriate as a gesture of good faith, or even leave them gift baskets and other rewards to thank them for being reliable tenants.
- Avoid inconveniences where possible. No matter what, you’ll need to inconvenience your tenants at some point, but the fewer instances of inconvenience you create, the better. For example, if you need to mow the lawn, consider waiting until 9:30 instead of doing it at 6:30 and waking them up prematurely. If you’re scheduling a repair to their unit, try to schedule it at a time that works for them; ask for their availability before moving forward. These little compromises won’t make your life much different, but over time, your tenant will be happier with their living situation.
The Property Management Factor
If you’ve tried these strategies and you’re still frustrated with the ongoing management of your property, there is another option that can relieve you of the tenant turnover problem entirely: getting help from a property management agency. In exchange for a reasonable monthly fee, your property managers will take care of every process associated with tenant management, including collecting rent, making property repairs, and even finding new tenants when your existing tenants leave.
If you’re interested in learning more about property management for your units, contact Green Residential today.