With vacancy rates increasing across Canada, residents have a lot of choice when it comes to what apartment they choose to rent. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, vacancy rates in Canada’s 35 major centres increased to 2.6 per cent in October 2012, from 2.2 per cent in October 2011. If this trend continues into October 2013, it will be even more prudent to work hard to retain your residents. How can you accomplish this? Here are some tips to get you started.
Talk to Your Residents
The first piece of advice is one of the most important – communicate with your residents. Let them know that you are there to answer their phone calls or e-mails. Better yet? Have rental office hours clearly posted so your residents know when they can stop by to speak with you. Create a relationship with your residents so they feel comfortable speaking with you about any issues that arise. Being available and open will go a long way to ensuring happiness in the building. Remember: talk to your residents – not at them.
Stick to Your Word
If you say you will fix something by a certain date, stick to it. If problems come up and you are unable to adhere to the deadline, let your residents know why and when they can expect the issue to be resolved. A prompt maintenance response time is one of the biggest concerns for most residents. Go the extra mile to have maintenance issues dealt with as soon as possible.
When it’s getting close to renewal time, there are a number of perks you can use to encourage residents to sign a new lease. You can offer to lock in their rent at its current price (no unexpected increases!), provide an upgrade in their suite of their choice, or even offer gift cards to local restaurants or shops upon signing. A few months before their renewal is up, send your resident a reminder letter with a treat included (candy, pizza coupons, etc.).
A great way to retain residents is by creating a sense of community in your building. Have monthly or bi-monthly events and parties. Allow your residents to get to know each other through potluck dinners, charity drives, game nights and seasonal decorating parties. Having a fun and happy community environment in your building will encourage residents to stay long-term and make your building their permanent home.
The website PropertyManager.com offers even more great tips for retaining your residents:
While the number of renters in the market has increased in the last few years, retaining good residents can still pose a problem for property managers. Maintaining a current resident is much less expensive than locating, approving, and moving in a new resident.
Of course the nature of renting itself is often transient; many people rent while looking for a home to buy, others only in the community for a short period of time.
But there are a select group of residents that would be more than happy to stay in the community where they rent; provided that they’re happy.
So how do you make…and keep your residents happy? Perhaps most important is good customer service. Most people, by nature, do not really enjoy moving frequently and will likely find reasons to stay where they are, providing that they receive the following:
Good Staff Responsiveness
Do you always respond promptly to resident requests? Are maintenance issues resolved quickly and professionally? Are complaints or other issues handled properly, or are they just put aside? These are all important issues and residents will remember how they are handled (or not handled) at renewal time.
Maintaining the Look and Quality of the Property
Obviously, your properties should be maintained anyway, but many residents that do become dissatisfied with their apartment home cite issues such as “the property went downhill.” While not very descriptive, this can mean anything from neglected landscaping, trash scattered throughout the property, or becoming careless about whom you rent to. Residents think of their apartment as their home, and coming home to suspicious characters hanging out in the parking lot, or trash blowing around in the wind will make a resident seriously consider moving come renewal time.
Keep them Informed and Involved
What’s going on in the community that you can share with your residents? A monthly newsletter, holiday wine & cheese parties, an annual property yard sale, all of these things help to create a feeling of community, and that can be potent.
Consistency in Staffing
While a change of staff cannot always be prevented, it’s important to maintain some consistency in the rental office. Residents often become very attached to office personnel, and frequent staff turnover may not only affect property performance, but resident turnover as well.
While there will always be resident turnover, building and maintaining a solid community will help you maintain more of your residents come renewal time.
The RentSeeker Team