It is inevitable that there will come a day when even your most favorite tenant moves on. Whether he stays for six months, five years, or 28 years, something will occur in his or her life that will require them to leave.
And for every second that dwelling remains empty, it is not earning money for you. A vacant residence could cost a landlord from $1,500 to more than $5,000 a month. That figure includes “make-ready costs” such as advertising and incentives to get the apartment occupied. Like it or not, turnover rates for apartments in the U.S. is about 50 percent. The one way to delay the expected is to figure out methods to keep the more amazing tenants.
Here are 10 ideas you may be able to employ.
- Be approachable. Answer the phone when tenants call, return calls when tenants have to leave a message, and leave a message if the tenant is not available to answer the phone. The act of responding to tenants’ questions, comments, and observations should be priority one for the landlord or manager of the apartment building.
- Respond to problems swiftly. Most leases do not permit the tenant himself to make repairs or modifications to the apartment, and there are problems between tenants that must be addressed. So be available to hear complaints and then act upon them quickly.
- Equip each apartment with quality appliances and materials. High quality equipment usually doesn’t break so there is no need for residents to call you for repairs. That means he or she doesn’t have to go scrambling when they are having a dinner party and the stove doesn’t work. Find the most reliable and durable appliances, carpet, and flooring and use them in the units.
- Do routine maintenance. Check equipment in the units and around the building consistently and perform maintenance when necessary. This can help to assure that the tenant doesn’t need to deal with broken or damaged items. Clear snow from the walkways, clean carpet in the hallways, make sure that the washers and driers in the laundry room are working properly, clean the walls and fixtures, etc.
- Respect tenant privacy. Don’t be meddlesome or pushy when dealing with tenants. You don’t have carte blanche to enter units. Instead, be courteous. Call and schedule appointments in advance to handle issues with tenants. Enter units only in the case of emergency or with the permission of the resident.
- Be Friendly. Engage tenants in conversation and show your concern. Whenever you have to send messages include a note asking the tenant to alert you to anything in their unit or around the building that needs your attention.
- Resist raising the rent. There always comes a time during the duration of a lease when a rent increase may be appropriate. For example, a special rate on the rent may have been arranged to attract a prospective tenant to sign a lease and now that rate has expired, market changes give you the opportunity to raise the rent, or you need to raise the rent to cover the cost of enhancements. Consider giving the resident a break and delay the increase. The act-of-good-faith could encourage the leaseholder not to check the market for another place that’s a bit cheaper or closer to where they work.
- Permit tenants to earn rewards. Offer a tenant a free carpet cleaning or a ceiling fan for extending the lease or referring a prospective tenant.
- Recognize good tenants with a gift. A grocery or a retail store gift card about Christmas-Hanukah time will impress that tenant and he’ll remember when it comes time to renew the lease.
- Alert tenants to good merchants and special events in the neighborhood. Providing information that a hotel concierge might offer is a good way to show your willingness to go beyond the expected.
What you do or don’t do will determine if your tenants are happy living on your property. A happy tenant will reward you with a lease renewal over and over again.