Every landlord would like to lower the turnover in their properties. It’s costly to attract and retain good tenants, not to mention the costs you incur when they move out and you have to turn a vacant rental. It just makes good business sense to strive to have happy, long term tenants in your properties. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have good systems in place and treat this like a business.
Here are some things you might want to consider to help turn your tenants into long term tenants.
- It is your job to educate your tenants when they first move in. They can’t follow the rules if they don’t know the rules. Spend the extra time in the beginning on this process, and you will avoid a lot of headaches down the road.
- When you do the walk through with a new tenant, be sure you are handing over the keys to a property that your tenant can be proud of. The quality of your rental determines the quality of your tenant.
- Make sure the grass is cut when they move into their new home. They have enough jobs to do when they are moving, and they will really appreciate it. It also helps set the standard for what is expected of them.
- Stay on top of repairs. Nothing makes a tenant unhappier than when repairs aren’t taken care of in a timely manner. If you don’t have your own maintenance staff, have reliable trades people that can fix problems quickly.
- Be proactive and contact your tenants the following month after they move in. Ask them if everything is okay. It’s also a good idea to stop by periodically to change the furnace filter. By doing this you monitor the condition of your property. This type of visit is especially important the first month or two after they move in. It’s much easier to correct bad habits when they first begin. [Be aware that if you are going to “stop by” to change the furnace filter you need to give 24 hours advance notice to enter the unit.]
- Let your tenants know that they can earn “rewards”. Have a policy where they can earn rewards like a carpet cleaning or the installation of a ceiling fan for signing another 1 year lease, or for referring a tenant to your company. Make them want to stay in your property, and you will be more likely to have long term tenants.
- Consider giving your good tenants a small gift periodically as a way to show appreciation. Something as simple as a birthday card or a $25.00 grocery store gift card around the holidays will go a long way toward having happy tenants. You can use a company like “Send Out Cards” that will take care of this job automatically for you. Just plug in the information such as their birthday, their lease renewal date etc. after they have signed the lease and you will be good to go.
- For just a few dollars, you can order a roll of address labels to put in their move-in packet. They probably haven’t thought of doing this and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.
- While you are at it, put some address labels in the packet with YOUR address on it. Make it simple for them to get the rent to you.
- You can pick up change of address booklets at the post office. Including these in your move-in packet is a nice touch.
- Send them a welcome letter or postcard after they have moved in telling them how happy you are that they are your new tenants. Let them know once again how they can contact you if there is a problem.
- “Train” your tenants to pay on time. They will get the idea quickly that they have to pay on time if they immediately get a “Pay or Move” notice when they are late on the rent. It’s also not a good idea to waive late fees especially in the beginning. Why would they pay on time if it wasn’t expected of them?
As a landlord, taking care of your responsibilities quickly and efficiently benefits everyone. When you are a good landlord, this usually results in having happy tenants. Simply setting the stage for a good experience at the very beginning assures them that they have made the right decision moving into your rental. Even if you only have a couple of rentals, treat this as a business or it will quickly become an expensive hobby!
Sharon Vornholt has been investing in real estate since 1998. For 17 years, she owned and operated a successful home inspection company and has been a full time real estate investor since January of 2008. For more information, please visit www.louisvillegalsrealestateblog.com.