Many landlords that we talk to have the misconception that their tenants are necessary evils that come with owning rental property. Instead, you should be looking at your tenants as valuable customers. Think about it: if they are paying an average rent of $1,300 a month, then that equates to over $15,000 per year. In any business, $15,000 per year is a valuable customer. They should be treated that way.
Tenants base their rental experiences on many things. The way maintenance is handled plays a large role. You have an opportunity here. We set up categories of maintenance, which provides us with the opportunity to meet or exceed expectations. Our categories are emergencies, urgent maintenance – which could be same day or next day service, and then general maintenance which can take three to 10 days to complete. When a tenant makes a service request, we explain which category that falls into and then exceed their expectations by getting the maintenance done within the timeframe or sooner. If you don’t explain those categories, tenants will think everything is an emergency and should be handled right away. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
Electronic access is another benefit tenants enjoy. Being able to pay rent electronically or make service requests electronically is valuable to tenants. That goes a long way in retaining tenants and attracting new ones. Having the capability to go online, put in their banking information and then control it by manually paying every month or setting it up automatically will help reduce late fees and the inconveniences of sending in rent or mailing a check. This type of convenience is what tenants are looking for.
If you have a brand new house with no maintenance needs, it might have you thinking that you won’t hear from your tenant throughout the duration of the lease. If that’s the case, you should be setting up a “touch.” These touches are communications that happen on a regular basis so you can be in contact with your tenants and they know you care. Quarterly emails or phone calls reminding them to change their air filters or turn off the outside faucets before they freeze are a great idea. This will go a long way in retaining your tenant. Be proactive in renewal. Thank them for the business and consider a renewal gift like movie tickets or a gift card.
If you have multiple properties or even one property, keeping your tenant for a long time is important. Turnover is your largest expense other than debt service. A retention rate of 80 percent is a goal to strive for. Tenants will vacate because of job transfers or moving in with someone else or buying a home.