This article was posted on Wednesday, Jul 01, 2015

In the world of investing there’s an old adage:  “Money goes where it’s treated best”.  The same could be said for the best residents.

As the world of rental properties become more competitive, a new adage is “Good residents move to where they are treated best”.  A “good resident” is one that has an outstanding credit history, takes good care of the places they rent and tends to stay put for an extended period of time.  Property managers want to find and keep them. 

One inexpensive way to do this is to reward their good track record.  This is an effective method to reinforce positive behavior as well.  Offer an end-of-the-year “rebate” to residents who have an excellent record of paying rent on time.  You might also consider a “thank you incentive” at the end of their annual lease or start date.  More owners are willing to consider offering, at the least, a three percent annual discount to prospects who either pay a year’s worth of rent or pay on a semi-annual basis.  That’s better than the yield of a 10-year bond!

Also, make it a policy to discourage your owner-clients from renting to relatives or friends.  Unless you don’t need the rent or the relationship, reconsider such decisions which invariably backfire.  One of my readers reminded me of this important, prudent policy when she wrote, “Five years ago, I made a mistake letting my daughter move into one of my rental units. Half the time, I am pulling and fighting for her to pay the $1,000.00 rent for a two-bedroom apartment.  I am planning to evict through a court order.”  A no-cost preventative policy would have saved a small fortune. 

Attracting Renters to Fill Vacancies

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Here are some other ways to attract good renters to fill any vacancies you have: 

  • Make the bathrooms look sparkling clean, sanitized and updated.  Replace discolored caulking, grouting, rust and deteriorating plumbing.  Be sure the lighting is more than adequate. 
  • One manager suggested tile backsplash be installed in kitchens and bathrooms.  She said that it looks awesome, cleans easily, protects walls, adds color/interest and reduces painting. 
  • Old English scratch cover and polish make wood cabinets and wood floors look new again.  
  • Replace damaged areas, burn, stains or other unsightly areas of the kitchen counters.  You’ll recoup the cost with a justifiable rental rate plus attract more of the good residents. 
  • Units that smell naturally pleasant are more inviting.  A reader shared that they like to use subtle air fresheners or deodorizers with neutral smells like “clean laundry”, a very subtle pine, cinnamon or gingerbread to make it feel homey.  The key is to always keep the scent subtle.  An overwhelming scent can be just as offensive as an unpleasant one. 
  • Paint the unit numbers on designated parking spots.  Make certain the parking area has good security lighting which also pertains to halls, landings and all common areas. 

Outstanding residents will want to live where they are treated best.  If you want to attract and keep them, go out of your way as property managers to make them feel appreciated. 

Marc Courtenay is with  Reprinted with permission of the Rental Housing Journal Metro.