There are so many things that come into play when a tenant moves out; loss of thousands of dollars of revenue, repairs have to be made and sometimes renovations due to damage in the unit, and then there is the marketing factor to get the property rented out again.
The fact is it is always better to keep a tenant than to go out and find a new tenant. So how do you keep the good ones? First of all, it is their home and you have to give them reasons to stay.
Here are a few tips from PersonalRealEstateInvestorMag.com:
Be available and communicate
If the tenant calls, emails or texts you, respond. Answer your phone, even at 2 a.m. It may be inconvenient, but he could be dealing with a flooded toilet or broken water heater.
Don’t wait for the tenant to call you, though. Go the extra mile and reach out to your tenants, asking how the unit or property is. A tenant may not want to bother you with “little” problems, like doors that stick, but too many “little” problems could prompt him to look elsewhere. Give him a chance to voice those concerns to you, so you can address them.
Always respond to requests
Once you’ve listened to your tenant, act. Some issues need to be resolved as soon as possible, like the air-conditioner that goes out in the middle of the summer or the heater in the winter; others, like the door that sticks, can wait for a few days. The article recommends applying the Golden Rule and treating tenants the way you would want to be treated. If you yourself would want something fixed now, take care of it immediately for your tenants.
But, you still want to take care of those repairs that can wait a few days promptly. If you promised to fix the sliding glass door, don’t put it off for three months, or even three weeks. Call your handyman today and schedule an appointment to get it fixed.
Keep the property maintained
If, as part of the lease agreement, you provide maintenance — pool service, landscaping or upkeep of common areas — make sure it is done regularly and well. Hire professional companies in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Maintenance extends beyond the lawn and pool, though. Repaint the exterior when the paint begins to peel. Replace the aging roof before it leaks. And cover up the graffiti as soon as it appears. Not only will you receive fewer calls asking for repairs; theoretically, the tenant will probably take better care of the property and you stay ahead of deferred maintenance that left unchecked will inevitably cost you in tenant retention, “days on market” for the next tenant, tenant quality and maintenance catch up costs.
Keep the property updated
You don’t have to upgrade that outdated dishwasher — after all, it still runs — but the money spent on a new one could save you lost revenue if the tenant decides to move. Consider upgrading the kitchen appliances, light fixtures, bathroom fixtures and even the flooring when they are outdated or worn. Just don’t make purchases that are out of line with what is normal for the neighborhood.
Get tenant feedback
Another way to solicit tenant input is through a survey. This strategy works particularly well with apartment complexes and multi-unit properties. Companies, like Kingsley Associates, can conduct the survey and prepare the results for you, or you can make your own survey using an online source like Surveymonkey.com. Keep the survey anonymous, if you can, and share the results with your tenants. Let them know of any improvements or changes you will make as a result of their input.
To obtain similar information, you could also conduct an exit interview. Even if the tenant is leaving due to factors beyond your control, such as relocating for a job, you might learn about changes and improvements you could make that might help retain other good tenants. In an exit interview, at the very least, document the official reason for the move and where they are moving (including rent amount and size).
Keep your rent competitive
To increase their bottom line, some landlords raise the monthly rent rate whenever the tenant renews the lease. It may be what they consider an insignificant amount (say, $25 a month), but it could be what tips the scale, as far as the tenant is concerned, in favor of renting somewhere else from someone else.
Before you raise the rent, review what comparable properties in the area are going for. Online rental listings, like those found on Craigslist.com or Rentals.com, can give you an idea, but for a more accurate figure, use a service like RentRange.com, which provides the local average price per square foot by property type and even comps, depending on the service you subscribe to.
Make sure to reward your good tenants
Often, there’s more stick than carrot in the landlord-tenant relationship. When a tenant doesn’t pay on time, he’s charged a late fee. If he doesn’t pay at all, he’s evicted, and if he damages the property, he forfeits some, or all, of his security deposit. Rarely, though, is a good tenant recognized for being a good tenant.
It doesn’t have to be much. You can give good tenants a gift card for a turkey at Thanksgiving along with a note thanking them for maintaining the property and paying on time. A small gesture like that goes a long way to making the tenant feel appreciated.
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