House with 'For Rent' Sign

Keeping Your Best Tenants – What’s the Trick?

It’s all in the way you treat them. Yes, it can be just that simple. But what exact ingredients go into the brew that boils down to “treating your tenants well”?

By BreAnn Stephenson

Many investors would say the hinge pin to staying profitable is to keep consistently-paying, responsible renters in your units at all times. Reduced turnover cuts down on the expenses takes to re-rent – lost rents during vacancy, advertising, repairs and your time. Long-term, conscientious renters also keep major damage from occurring to your property. But how do you keep the cream-of-the-crop from looking elsewhere as the end of their lease approaches?

I’d like to share my view with you as my husband and I are still renters. We make rent the first priority of expenses and view the property we rent as our home. Thankfully, I have had the pleasure of having good landlords throughout my rental history, but I have had at least one that has stood out above rest. What did this memorable landlord do that was so outstanding? As it turns out, some really darn simple things.

  1. He upgraded additional items before we moved in.

When we first viewed the property, it was still occupied but in pretty good shape. He may have mentioned some items he wanted to fix before we would move in, but we were really surprised to see that the once dark brown kitchen cabinets had been freshly painted a nice friendly off-white and the flooring had also been replaced. In fact, the entire unit had been repainted and he had put in new carpet throughout even though it didn’t appear to be overly worn during the showing.

Bottom line: He took pride in preparing the property for us before we moved in & set a standard of care that we felt inspired to emulate.

  1. He welcomed us to the neighborhood.

Some of you may already do this, but we were given a packet that included not only his and his wife’s contact information, but also had virtually all the tools you would need when you first move in. The packet contained coupons for nearby restaurants and practical information like the contact information for all the local utility companies.

Bottom line: He made the move in process less stressful & started our relationship out on a great foot.

  1. He set up lawn care.

You may have a preference on whether or not you would consider including something like this in your lease, but lawn care was included in the cost of our rent in this case. This accomplished a couple of goals: for us busy people, it made sure that the lawn would stay up to city code but it also again, took more stress off of us as renters. We didn’t have to worry about the lawn and it made our house a nice place to come home to.

Bottom line: You can offer services that benefit both parties.

  1. He was proactive in doing regular maintenance & prompt in following-up on repair calls.

Sometimes it is just about getting the bare essentials taken care of. This particular landlord was always reasonable about calling back if we had a maintenance issue. At times I was able to reach him directly when I called, but if I did leave a message, I would be guaranteed a call back that same day. We didn’t have many issues to call about during our stay at that property and I think it’s because he was always so proactive with his regular maintenance. He would call to give us advance notice before stopping over, but every month or so there was something that he wanted to fix or improve.

Bottom line: He was always aware of the state of the property & we hardly ever had to call him for maintenance.

  1. He was friendly, but was respectful of our privacy.

Now, you might think that it would get annoying having a landlord or his workers over to your home so frequently, but he was also very respectful of our schedules. He wasn’t over too often, maybe once a month or two, depending upon the maintenance needs of the property. Otherwise, our lives went on independently and we enjoyed the same privacy as if we owned the home ourselves.

Bottom line: You can check up on your property regularly and not have your tenants feel like you are intruding into their lives.

So, as you can see, keeping tenants really doesn’t have to be, for lack of a more unique expression, rocket science. But it does take a little investment of your time, planning and care. By making the effort to be an engaged landlord, you can spend more time enjoying your investment and those who rent from you….instead of dealing with a list of never-ending maintenance woes and unhappy tenants. As a result of this landlord’s efforts, I would still refer people to him…over a decade later.

For being an awesome reader, I’d like to give you a few treats…

Are you causing renters to leave early by charging the maximum rent for the neighborhood their first year with you? When it comes to rental properties, suggesting lower rents is, more often than not, the right answer for increased profits. Your primary goal is to maximize return on investment (ROI), yet sadly, 99% of investors believe that maximizing rents is the most important step towards maximizing income. Start this process off right by obtaining the best data and analytics on your property. RentFax offers a product that can help you determine a reasonable rent range for your area. See Rick’s review of RentFax HERE.

ALPS Perks
Along with your move-in packet, you may want to include some coupons or treat your tenant to a rewards program. ALPS is making available the ability to offer a discount program that many large apartment complexes may provide in their welcome packets. For a nominal charge, the discount provider, Purqz, offers savings not available to the general public at thousands of popular national and local retailers. It’s a great way to say “Welcome” at move-in or “Thank You” during the holidays. Learn more about ALPS Perks HERE.

What makes your best tenants stay with you beyond one lease term? Share your tips in the comments below!


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