Focus On Tenant Retention, Not AcquisitionBy JD Esajian on August 9, 2019
Finding a quality tenant is a real game changer. If you own a
rental property you undoubtedly know the importance of having a reliable tenant you can trust. Instead of worrying about chasing the rent every month you know it will be there without any prompting. You won’t stay up all night wondering if your tenant is neglecting the property or making enemies with the neighbors. As important as a good tenant is, it is easy to neglect them once they are in the property. You take them for granted, until they leave and you see just how good you had it. You are much better off focusing on retaining good tenants instead of trying to find them. It is not a stretch to say that a quality tenant will make your life easier and change the way you view the property. Here are five tips to help retain good tenants.
- Start With Good Tenants: Prevention is always better than the cure. Retaining good tenants starts with finding good tenants. Never settle for a tenant based on a need to fill an occupancy or a lack of better options. If you do you will almost instantly regret it and inevitably face an issue at some point in the lease. While nothing is ever certain, screening your tenants gives you the best possible chance for success. Call any previous landlords listed and follow up with the current employer. Review the application for any red flags and don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have them. Spending a little extra time digging into the application can help weed out the bad apples and leave you with a tenant that you can trust and want to maintain a long-term relationship with.
- Expedite Maintenance Requests: It is important to always put yourself in your tenants’ shoes. If there is an issue with a toilet or a lock on the door it may not seem like a big deal to you, but it makes for an uncomfortable living situation for your tenants. It is unreasonable to stop everything you are doing and get someone to the house in a few hours’ notice, but you shouldn’t make them wait days either. You need to have a handyperson, or two, on standby if a minor fix is needed. The quicker you can fix something in the house the more your tenant will appreciate it and grow comfortable with you and the property. On the flip side, if you make a tenant wait two days without another toilet option they will grow disgusted and start looking for other options immediately. Having a toilet clog or a dishwasher stop is normal for any property and part of being a landlord. By ignoring these requests and assigning blame instead of fixing the issue you will have a constant turnstile of tenants and constantly look to fill vacancies.
- Be Fair, But Firm: There are several ways to manage a rental property. One side will tell you that you need to strictly enforce the lease and any penalties associated. The other side you say that there should be a common-sense approach and you need to find the whole story before doing anything. However you run your property you should always be fair, but firm. If you do enforce a late fee, make sure your tenant knows about it well in advance and the late isn’t do to a technicality. If there is maintenance needed don’t be petty and charge them for everyday usage and wear and tear. You should strive to have a relationship with your tenant that is cordial, but both sides still know the rules, and follows them. You can run your business without being cold and callas. The more comfortable your tenant feels with you the greater chance they will want to renew their lease and stay in the property.
- Give Plenty Of Notice: No tenant likes to be caught off guard. This is the case whether you are planning to have work done or increasing the rent. It is essential to give your tenants plenty of notice with anything you are doing. If you are increasing the rent, don’t do it overnight. You should give at least a six month heads up prior to doing anything. If your tenant is someone you would want to stay forever you should even consider the cost of the increase versus the benefits of the tenant. If you are having work done that will inconvenience the tenant, you should give them at least a weeks’ notice. If the kitchen it being occupied, you may want to offer a small restaurant gift card for their inconvenience. Many landlords will tell you that it isn’t necessary, but your tenants will truly appreciate you going the extra mile for them.
- Small Milestones: You should also consider the big picture with your rental. Spending small amounts of money can often go a long way. Consider the impact of sending your tenant a gift card for their birthday or six-month anniversary in the property. You can bet that no other landlord has ever done this, and it will leave a lasting impression. They will pay their rent faster and go the extra mile to take care of your property. A bottle of wine for Thanksgiving or Christmas may run you $20 but will have a huge impact when your tenant decides to renew their lease or look for a new place to live.
You truly can’t put a price on a good tenant. Only when you have a bad tenant will you truly appreciate the impact of a good one. Do everything you have to make sure quality tenants stay in your rental for as long as possible.