As a landlord, you’ll often find yourself pondering the age old question – how do you retain tenants? With the vast majority of leases lasting for a duration of one year, what can you do to help convince your tenants to stay in your building once that lease expires? There are a number of important steps and changes that you can implement to ensure you retain great tenants for years to come.
It goes without saying, but excellent customer service is the number one key to retaining your tenants long term. What do we mean by this?
– Be available. When your office is open, ensure someone is there to answer the concerns and questions of your tenants. When your office is closed, let your tenants know that you are still available for emergencies and post your contact information in a visible common area.
– Be visible. Get to know your tenants by name and say hello in the hallways. If there was ever an issue with their suite, ask them how things are now that you’ve addressed it. Like any job, feedback is very important. Listen to what your tenants have to say.
Of course, there will inevitably be bumps along the road in any building. Elevators may stop working, hot water tanks may burst – but it’s how you react to these situations that will keep your tenants happy. For major issues that affect the entire building, be open and honest about what is happening and how long the repair process will take. Post information in common areas and memos under the doors of every tenant detailing what the issue is and the steps you are taking to resolve it. Let your tenants know that you are available to answer any questions they may have about the process.
For issues that affect one tenant or suite, communication and responsiveness are your keys to focus on. Respond to their concern as soon as possible and keep them informed about the status of the request.
Stand Out from the Crowd
What can you offer your tenants that few other apartment buildings can? This can be an online portal where they can submit service requests and monitor their progress or it can be giving your tenants the option to pay their rent online directly from their bank account rather than by cheque. Small conveniences that make life easier for your tenants will speak volumes when it comes time to renew their lease.
Finally, stay connected to your tenants throughout their lease. Publish a quarterly newsletter that details what is happening in your building and neighbourhood, plan tenant appreciation BBQ’s and parties, get involved in your neighbourhood by hosting a charity drive in your building, or hold decorating parties during holidays (Halloween is a great one and is coming up in a few short weeks!).
Even more important in this day and age is to stay in touch with your tenants through social media. Create a Facebook page where tenants can not only connect with you, but each other. Fostering a sense of community and even ownership in the apartment building will go a long way to keeping your tenants happy for years to come.
Here are even more great tips for retaining tenants from the Bigger Pockets article “12 Tips for Being a Good Landlord and Having Happy Tenants”:
1. It is your job to educate your tenants when they first move in. They can’t follow the rules if they don’t know the rules. Spend the extra time in the beginning on this process, and you will avoid a lot of headaches down the road.
2. When you do the walk through with a new tenant, be sure you are handing over the keys to a property that your tenant can be proud of. The quality of your rental determines the quality of your tenant.
3. Make sure the grass is cut when they move into their new home. They have enough jobs to do when they are moving, and they will really appreciate it. It also helps set the standard for what is expected of them.
4. Stay on top of repairs. Nothing makes a tenant unhappier than when repairs aren’t taken care of in a timely manner. If you don’t have your own maintenance staff, have reliable trades people that can fix problems quickly.
5. Be proactive and contact your tenants the following month after they move in. Ask them if everything is ok. It’s also a good idea to stop by periodically to change the furnace filter. By doing this you monitor the condition of your property. This type of visit is especially important the first month or two after they move in. It’s much easier to correct bad habits when they first begin.
6. Let your tenants know that they can earn “rewards”. Have a policy where they can earn rewards like a carpet cleaning or the installation of a ceiling fan for signing another 1 year lease, or for referring a tenant to your company. Make them want to stay in your property, and you will be more likely to have long term tenants.
7. Consider giving your good tenants a small gift periodically as a way to show appreciation. Something as simple as a birthday card or a $25.00 grocery store gift card around the holidays will go a long way toward having happy tenants. You can use a company like Send Out Cards that will take care of this job automatically for you. Just plug in the information such as their birthday, their lease renewal date etc. after they have signed the lease and you will be good to go.
8. For just a few dollars, you can order a roll of address labels to put in their move in packet. They probably haven’t thought of doing this and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
9. While you are at it, put some address labels in the packet with YOUR address on it. Make it simple for them to get the rent to you.
10. You can pick up change of address booklets at the post office. Including these in your move in packet is a nice touch.
11. Send them a welcome letter or postcard after they have moved in telling them how happy you are that they are your new tenants. Let them know once again how they can contact you in if there is a problem.
12. “Train” your tenants to pay on time. They will get the idea quickly that they have to pay on time if they immediately get a 7 day letter when they are late on the rent. It’s also not a good idea to waive late fees especially in the beginning. Why would they pay on time if it wasn’t expected of them?
Renting can be a great experience for renters and landlords…if each does their role in helping ensure a great living experience!
The RentSeeker Team