There are lots of strategies to getting good tenants into your units— tenant referrals, rigorous screening, checking their references, etc— but once you’ve got them, how do you keep them? Unit turnover can be expensive, and no one wants to have their units sitting empty for any length of time. A good tenant retention plan will make sure you keep your tenants happy and renewing their leases with you year after year.
Keep Up Your End Of The Bargain
When your tenants sign a lease with you, they’re agreeing to pay you each month for the upkeep of their home. It’s a contract with responsibilities on both ends— and a surefire way to keep your tenants renewing their leases is to uphold your responsibilities to them.
The most basic foundation of this is to have good communication with your tenants. There’s no reason a tenant should ever be confused about how to get in touch with you, and no reason they should wait more than 24 hours to hear back from you about their questions or maintenance requests. Your property manager, similarly, should be well trained to respond promptly and clearly to all tenant communications, and to follow up after the fact to make sure the tenant is satisfied with the work done.
One way to streamline all communication is to digitize your property management into an online portal that tenants have 24/7 access to. Relying on paper submissions is not only out of date but inconvenient; allowing your tenants to pay rent and submit maintenance requests online will make their lives easier and in turn, make them more satisfied in their relationship with you.
Another no-brainer to boosting your tenant retention rate is to keep your property in excellent condition, inside and out. We’ve written before about the importance of landscaping to increase your property’s curb appeal, and making sure your units are in top shape on the inside is just as critical. This goes beyond responding to maintenance requests in a timely fashion, and includes ongoing maintenance services such as pest treatments, filter replacements, fresh paint, and more.
Being proactive with property maintenance not only improves the longevity of your property, but will impress your tenants with your dedication to the space. This will, in turn, motivate them to keep the place in good condition, and increase the likelihood that they’ll renew their lease with you.
Make It Worth Their While
Each time your tenants’ leases come up for renewal they’ll be asking themselves whether or not they can get a better situation elsewhere. But no one wants to go through the hassle of moving— so making your unit a good investment for your tenants can help convince them to stay.
One way to do this is to offer a lease renewal incentive program. There are many ways to do this— offering a cash perk or a percentage off their next month’s rent is one way, but tying your property to the community that your tenants live and work in could be even more impressive. Partnering with a local gym or cafe to offer special promotions to tenants shows them that you’re part of the community too, which can make them feel even prouder of living in your property.
Another option is to allow tenants to choose from a list of upgrades to the property— things you’re prepared to do that will improve the value and appearance of the unit, such as a new appliance, new paint, smart thermostat, or window treatments. Obviously, the cost-benefit analysis must be considered, but if these were things you might have to do anyway during a turnover, offering them to your best tenants can make them feel extra appreciated.
It’s also a great idea to keep your rent below the market value in your area. This may sound counterintuitive to maintaining a consistent profit margin, but trust us. Thrifty tenants will always appreciate a good deal, and combined with proactive maintenance and prompt repairs, they’ll feel it’s too good a situation to pass up. And “market value” doesn’t just mean the cost of an apartment; it’s what you get for the cost as well. Keeping track of what amenities and upgrades are offered by your competition is just a smart move— if your property is outdated and more expensive, a tenant isn’t likely to stick around.
Also, linking back to the lease renewal incentive, you could consider not raising the rent for your repeat tenants more than every two or three years. By reducing the frequency with which you raise the rent, you can mitigate your tenants’ anxiety— if they know you’re not going to raise the rent every year, they’re more likely to stay for multiple years at a stretch.
Be Flexible & Open To Feedback
Even the best tenants run into tough times, especially during the age of COVID-19. The best way to keep your relationship with those tenants strong is to have flexibility and understanding for their situation— obviously you want to have your policies around late rent clearly outlined in the lease, but making separate arrangements for your best tenants when they have difficult circumstances will only reflect better on you. You can waive late fees, give the tenant extra time to pay the rent, or agree to a payment plan to make up the month they were having trouble.
Positioning yourself as a partner to your tenants in trying to rebound after a period of turmoil allows your tenants to see you as a human being and an ally, which will foster a stronger relationship between you and improve your tenant retention rate. Plus, by making exceptions to keep great tenants in their units, you’ll still be forgoing the hassle and expense of trying to fill a vacant unit.
The last tip is one that hopefully you won’t run into too often— but even your best tenants will likely move out one day. When that happens, take advantage of the opportunity to get their feedback on their experiences by sending an exit survey. Google Forms, Surveymonkey and other online tools make it easy to create and send a short poll on how you did as a landlord, which will be important data for you in improving your rental business. Consider asking why they’re leaving, what was the best feature about living in the property, what they would have liked to see done better, and if there was anything that could have convinced them to stay. Getting feedback can be tough, but ultimately it will make you a better landlord, which will keep your tenant retention rate high.
How All County Denver Metro Can Help Improve Your Tenant Retention Rate
Increasing your tenant retention rate isn’t done in a day— and if you need help, partnering with a professional property management company is one of the best steps you can take. All County Denver Metro Property Management is here to help property owners get the best return on their investment through knowledgeable and trustworthy property management services. From managing tenant relationships to lease enforcement, we look forward to working with you to see how your investment can be a long-term, stress-free asset. For a complimentary quote, call us today at (720) 664-4550.