Tenant Retention: Converting Churn Into Pure Butter

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Your tenant is moving out. Maybe he’s getting married, or she’s changing jobs (with a move). It’s always something. Life is change, it’s unavoidable, and there’s the inevitable hit to your income for the period when there’s no one in that rental unit.

As a prudent landlord, you can use that time to do any repairs and upgrades. But in general, the best use of rental space is to have it rented and generating income. So keeping the vacancy cycle short is a priority.

Keep the Tenants You Have

The best vacancy is no vacancy. Happy tenants are likely to stay put and pay their rent on time. Toward that end, be a great landlord, choose good tenants, and use these tips as part of your tenant retention plan. 

  • Keep maintenance up. Don’t drag your feet on repairs, and do regular seasonal checks. If your renters have a maintenance issue, nothing will keep their pen off the lease renewal like having slow or repeated or even chronic maintenance of the place he or she lives.
  • Communicate with tenants well. If they phone in a request, document it and send them an email confirmation with an estimate of when you will resolve their concern.
  • Be proactive. If something is happening that will affect the tenants, let them know as far in advance as possible. If you have to dig a trench down the middle of their yard or parking lot to repair a buried cable or pipeline, they’re not going to want to find out about it by hearing jackhammers at 7 AM on a Saturday.
  • Be a person with them. Be professional and businesslike but genuinely take an interest in their satisfaction with the property and what’s going on in their lives. Show them your face periodically.  They may give you valuable information you can take action on, such as preventative maintenance or repairs which would keep them or other tenants happy and in your property. 
  • Set and raise rents appropriately. It’s better to raise the rent a regular percentage every year or two, so the tenant will expect it rather than leave it to blow up in a big, unmanageable number. Checking rents in the area and giving occasional perks can help retain good tenants. Upscale areas like Uptown Dallas and Highland Park charge the kind of rents landlords love, but you can’t go crazy. 
  • Start lease renewals earlier. This will give your customer a chance to ease into the process and prepare for any rent increase — as well as give them less time to look for Groupons for moving companies.
  • Single family units (rentals of entire houses) generally have the yard maintenance and snow removal fall on the tenant. Doing this for a tenant, even a few times per season might be the personal touch that keeps that tenant in the premises another year.

Attract Desirable New Tenants

  • Screen applicants well. Tenants can’t stay long if they’re unable to pay rent or keep changing careers. Careful, thorough screening up front has a higher initial cost but pays big dividends in the long run by having reliable tenants you can renew year after year.
  • Market to retainable groups. The turnover rate for retirees is about 5%. Having buildings optimized to house disabled people is also likely to keep the retention rate high and make the lives of people in these groups easier, a double win! 

Marketing to specific target groups can take a lot of legwork and expertise. One tried and true strategy for this is to…

Hire a Professional Property Management Company

A professional management company has several advantages. 

  • Marketing, experience, knowing both the target market and how to reach them. 
  • They know the territory. It could be something as simple as putting up flyers in senior centers to attract those long-term, quiet retiree renters. 
  • They have staff and expertise to turn vacancies quickly. The office doesn’t shut down while an owner works a day job.
  • They don’t get paid on empty units, so they’re motivated to fill them as soon as possible. 
  • They can analyze your vacancy cycle and seek a solution if yours is higher than average for the area.

Download our free “Guide to Finding the Best Uptown Dallas Property Management Company” for helpful information you can use to interview property managers in your area.