Attracting the right rental property tenants is key. But once great renters have moved in, how do you turn that attraction into long-term tenant retention?
There's a moment when the renter decides whether or not to renew. At this point it’s too late to influence their decision, and in some cases there’s not much you could have done about it: they’ve bought a home, gotten a job in another city or outgrown the rental property.
But too many property managers let good renters walk away for reasons they could have prevented. Let’s talk about some of the best ways to boost tenant retention so you can avoid costly, time-consuming turns and gaps in income.
Most readers of this blog have rented more than once in their lives. If you think back, you’ll be able to readily recall which landlords were responsive, helpful and “nice” and which seemed remote and uncaring. The difference has a big impact on retention. Renters don’t like telling a good landlord goodbye, where it’s a distinct pleasure to give notice to a bad one.
One of the best ways to foster a good relationship with tenants is through consistent communication. Tenants who are kept informed about maintenance, rent or fee changes, neighborhood events or crimes, weather alerts and other issues feel cared about. You’re building a relationship with them, something that can’t be quantified but has a real impact on renter satisfaction and retention.
With phone conversations increasingly giving way to e-communications, the ideal way to communicate with your renters is a tenant portal. It’s accessible 24/7/365, so it’s keeping you and your renters in touch even when you’re busy or the office is closed. You can reach multiple tenants at once, or send personalized messages one at a time.
Make transactions easy
The tenant portal delivers other powerful benefits as well, including saving time and hassles for renters in their transactions with you.
They can check their balance or make an online rent payment, with all charges clearly listed. This eliminates phone calls to ask questions during business hours, trips to the office and paper checks in the mail.
When it’s time for renewal, again there’s no need to drive to the office. Renters can take care of everything online, all the way through to a final e-Signature.
In a time when people increasingly prefer to handle their business online, you can add another boost to renter satisfaction by taking the hassles out of their transactions with you.
Stay on top of maintenance
Time and again, surveys show that the #1 factor in renter satisfaction is maintenance – not only keeping up the property, but also the landlord’s attention and timeliness when it comes to fixing problems.
In an earlier blog article, “Managing Relationships with Maintenance Providers” we reviewed ways you can upgrade your maintenance by streamlining your relationship with maintenance providers, replacing sticky notes and phone calls with a property maintenance app that automates work orders, inspections and maintenance calls. Everything is tracked from job initiation through completion. Vendors end up happier and more loyal and you eliminate misunderstandings, but most importantly, you’re superbly responsive to your renters in the area they judge you by more than any other.
Create a sense of community
When you rent a home, you get more than a building. You also get the neighborhood and everything that comes with it. That’s a big part of what makes someone either decide to stay where they are or move on when the lease is up.
It’s quite easy for you to add to the appeal of your properties by contributing to your tenants’ sense that they’re part of a community. It can be as simple as listings, announcements and updates about area activities and amenities, along with specials at nearby retail establishments. With a bit more effort, you can provide a list of neighbors with contact information, neighborhood watch groups and other more specific information. Collecting this information does double duty: it can also help you close leases with prospects.
It makes a lot more sense to work hard to hold on to the renters you already have than to regularly go out looking for new ones. With some simple changes, you’ll find tenants staying with you longer, and your life a lot easier!