| | Landlord Tip of the Week
Recently an apartment complex underwent an extensive renovation. Six
months of sub-metering, window replacement and insulation work took
place. At Christmas time each tenant came home to find a red ice
scraper tied to their doorknob with a red ribbon. Attached to each
ice scraper was a thank you letter from the apartment management.
Everyone came home from work to this surprise and seemed to genuinely
appreciate the gesture. The words shared a clear message from
management and expressed sincere appreciation for the tenants'
tolerance of the inconvenience.
That massive a renovation is certainly inconvenience enough to make
most tenants hesitant to stay in the complex. Yet when rents were
increased 38 percent in the next 18 month, there were no negative
effects on occupancy.
Tenants are the customers of our business. They are the ones who pay
the mortgage and taxes and put some money in our pockets. Certainly,
there are tenants we would rather not have as customers, but we have
dealt with them in other issues.
Each landlord probably has tenants he or she wants to keep. Every
time one of them moves out it is our loss. Here are a few ideas for
keeping tenants from moving elsewhere.
Plan it out and write it down
The first thing to do is figure out what you are going to do. Work
out a plan that is thoughtful, written down and with goals and
objectives. While you are at it, write down what makes your property
more desirable than your competition's property. If you can't think
of any reasons, possibly that should be the first thing to work on in
your tenant retention plan.
For a ten unit apartment house or ten single family houses, the goal
or objective might be to keep all your tenants for two years, and to
raise the rents ten percent each year.
Such a plan need not cost much money, but a budget for tenant
retention is important nonetheless. That will keep you from spending
too much or too little. Either one could be a bad business decision.
Make them heard
People who feel that their voice is important feel they have a stake
in where they live. If the landlord listens to tenant complaints and
does his or her best to correct any problems or complaints the
tenants have, the tenants will feel that they are wanted.
Tenants want to believe they are getting their money's worth.
Random calls and surveys are effective. Just ask the tenant if there
is anything you can help with, or any problem you can correct.
Set up a regular inspection schedule, as well. This does two things:
protects your investment and makes the tenants feel they are being
If a rent increase is imminent, on the regular inspection find some
small thing to repair, such as recaulking the tub, tightening a door
knob, or replacing a faulty ballast, without a request from the
tenant. Such a service will often allay, or at least modify tenant
objections to the increase.
When the lease is up, you might think of things to do to thank the
tenant for being a good tenant and renting from you. One apartment
complex installed a $39 "brass" chandelier in the unit (which added
value to the property) and sent a note to the tenant saying how much
he was appreciated.
Give the tenant a "floating" coupon good for a partial or full
month's rent any time he or she chooses, such as Christmas or tax
Return the security deposit to an excellent tenant after three years.
When the tenant moves in leave a bottle of chilled champagne in the
Send the tenant a gift basket or flowers at renewal.
Making it easier on the tenant
If you have extensive renovation or repairs to make, try to do them
when the tenant or the tenant's children will be gone. It is less
disruptive and easier to get the work done if there are fewer people
If you have requests of the tenants, you might express them in words
such as, "It would be appreciated..." rather than "DO NOT...."
Know all of the tenants' names, the tenants' children's and the
tenants' pets' names. It is amazing what a personal approach will do
to make people feel wanted and appreciated. Then you also know who
belongs there and who doesn't.
All these are things which might be called "preventive marketing."
You may spend hundreds of dollars advertising for new tenants, when
it would cost you just a few dollars to keep the good ones you have.
Letting good tenants move is just bad business
By Cain Publishing