For landlords, having a sound tenant retention program makes strong business sense. Advertising, marketing, brokerage, vacancy loss, and building repairs are costs associated with tenant acquisition; these are avoidable if you can retain your existing tenants. The value of keeping tenants satisfied becomes apparent when the rental landscape is bleak and occupancy rates are low. There are some things that you can do to ensure that you retain your quality tenants.
Get to Know Your Tenants
Although you will be able to glean useful information about your tenants from the rental agreement, make it a point to get to know your tenants on a more personal level. This will allow you to go beyond the superficial information on paper and learn about their expectations, fears, and motivations. By fostering a closer, but professional, relationship with your tenants, you'll be able to serve as a reference for them in the future but may also receive stellar references and reviews.
Help New Tenants Move In
First impressions can last a long time and can make things easy for new tenants in a number of ways. If they’re transferring from a city or neighborhood close to their new home, you could help them move their things. If they are from a neighborhood farther away, inform them about their new neighborhood. Direct them to the nearby grocery stores, doctors, and most convenient parking spots. Help the new renters get established in the home by linking them with the cable companies they'll need to call to obtain Wi-Fi, tell them how often the gardeners will stop by, and where they can find a great restaurant.
Check in With Tenants
Communicate periodically with tenants to learn about their satisfaction levels. This can be done formally through a questionnaire and via informal chats. The feedback obtained enables landlords to act on minor complaints and prevent them from becoming sore points in a landlord-tenant relationship. Encourage tenants to proactively reach out and share grievances with you. These days, that's easily done through email, social media, text messages, and phone calls.
If the tenant holds up their end of the deal by paying rent on time and taking care of the property, then offer a type of reward. Sincere gestures of appreciation strengthen the landlord-tenant bond, and when the time for renewing the rental agreement comes, these will help influence the renter's decision to continue with you. Offering a gift voucher and a card on tenants' anniversaries, taking care of pets when tenants are absent, providing professional cleaning of the rental property for Christmas, and regular pest control services are a few things that you can do to let your tenants know that you appreciate them.
Lower Tenant's Energy Bills
Any cost savings that you can help your tenants obtain will encourage them to renew the agreement with you. Energy costs are a good example: insulate the loft, replace incandescent bulbs with fluorescent fixtures, and repair or replace dripping taps. This will ensure shared cost savings and continued satisfaction.
Gather Feedback When Tenants Leave
There are valuable lessons to be learned from an exit interview if a tenant has decided to move on. It’s one thing if the tenant is leaving because of things that are outside your control, but if the exit interview reveals that you’ve failed the tenant in some way, then you should ensure that the matter does not get repeated. In fact, by working to remove or improve any element of the property that your departing tenant complained about, you may be able to persuade tenants to stay. This could be a long overdue paint job, dealing with mold in the basement, or a recent rent hike.
Tenancy turnover is avoidable. Being a caring landlord costs less -- in terms of money and effort -- than finding new tenants and risking vacancies. Take care of your tenants, and they’ll keep your rental property occupied for years to come.
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