This article was posted on Sunday, May 01, 2016

It’s Not About Just Offering the “Right” Renewal Gift

Don’t fall into the costly mistakes of thinking that simply offering residents the right gift at renewal time will greatly increase their desire to want to renew their lease. Many landlords think the trick to retention is simply figuring out the right renewal gift or incentive to offer.  While it is nice to offer retention gifts, understand that the real trick/skill to retention is NOT about just offering the right gift or incentive. It is about changing the entire MINDSET of your residents, so that they see themselves as participants in your “customer loyalty” program.

Changing and creating the right loyalty mindset with your customer involves vital points of loyalty program implementation beginning right from the start, at time of application, new resident orientation, and then on anniversary dates and other key points in the rental relationship.

Landlord Safety/Survival Tips

A few months ago, national news headlines highlighted two different realtors (each at separate locations) who were victims of crimes when showing a property. Several landlords share security reminders and safety tips below.

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This can be a volatile and dangerous business. People become emotional when money is involved or they are losing their home and even otherwise normal people can lose control and do heinous things. Therefore never let your guard down with prospective tenants. And even with long time tenants if things are “going south” or become contentious, be on guard.

Realize that you may not even be aware that a long time tenant has an anger against you simmering internally, or has unknown drug issues – anything can happen. Be careful around unknown “friends” of tenants.  I’m not saying you have to look for threats under every bush, but be aware of what is going on in your “world” and avoid putting yourself into compromising situations – (i.e. in a back bedroom with two prospects with the door to their back, not yours, hence no escape.)

If you have a contentious situation with a tenant it may be best to remove yourself from the equation and let an attorney or others handle it. However – you may not be able to do that. You may have a problem tenant in a multi-family. You can’t ignore the whole property because of one thug who is acting out.

Some landlords may not have the funding to hire out their eviction processes. A dangerous tenant can always return after the fact to extract revenge. You just never know. In such situations use video, always have a second person. I have a “dash cam” just like the police. I can park my car facing the area I will be operating in, so if I am attacked it will be on video. I recommend this. Quality cams are under $100.

I don’t want to get into the pros or cons of firearm defense here, but if you should choose to carry, you must fully understand your laws and you must train to a point well beyond what most people consider they need. Be aware and stay safe.

A second landlord shared the following tips: I am female. When showing a unit to a male, I never enter the unit. I open the door before they get there. I speed dial my office with record of plate number as soon as they arrive. I ask to see their ID and take down their info. I then invite them to go in and look around. I do not enter unit if I am alone and applicant is alone. 

A third landlord shared: People who attack do so often because they see the victim as alone and weak. Don’t be alone. Having a second person – a handyman, cousin, brother, work buddy, Army buddy, etc. with you is probably one of the most effective methods of deterring attack.

Cleaning Essentials for Rental Properties

(20 products recommended by rental property owners)

1. Mr. Clean magic eraser

2. 409 spray (removes nicotine and hard spots)

3. Degreaser

4. OdorXit (for eliminating all types of odors)

5. Zep toilet bowl cleaner

6. Tilex

7. Zep carpet shampoo

8. SOS pads

9. Clorox

10. Mr. Clean or Pinesol

11. Swifer Floor Swipes

12. Scrubbing Bubbles

13. Oven cleaner

14. A medium grit sanding block

15. Zep CONCENTRATED window cleaning solution

16. Gloves

17. Murphy’s Oil Soap

18. Kaboom

19. Fantastic

20. The Works toilet cleaner

Give Your Tenants a Map to Safety

What can be worse than a 2 AM phone call from a tenant reporting a strong odor of gas or a broken water pipe (and not know how to stop the problem)? Prevent this disaster from possibly turning into a nightmare by providing each tenant with a list or, better, a hand-drawn map showing the location of the shutoffs or disconnects for the various utilities in the house. It would be even better to add instructions such as which direction to turn a valve handle or which circuit breaker is the main breaker. Another landlord added the following suggestion:
“Tie a BIG TAG on the water shut-off valve giving directions for turning it off. In a panic, it’s better than fumbling around. I even have it in my own house!” 


Renting Furnished Homes

A landlord who was having difficulty renting his unfurnished home, asked other landlords about possibly offering a FURNISHED rental. It is an idea many landlords should consider. Below are a couple of responses from landlords sharing their successful but limited experiences.

  • “After several comments by other landlords on, I furnished my 1 bedroom house. I was moving in with my sweetie and as we know, used furniture sells for next to nothing at a yard sale. So we kept the best stuff regarding kitchen, bedding, towels, etc. and fully furnished the house, down to the coffee maker and salt and pepper shakers. I bought new (cheap) bed pillows and a zippered type mattress cover to protect against bed bugs. The mattress had been in our extra bedroom and hardly used.

The house rented immediately to an older man who is in our area as a contractor. Initially I thought he would be here for 6-9 months, that was over two years ago! He was staying in one of those extended stay hotels and going crazy being in one room he said. So I can’t tell you about theft or the like as I haven’t had turnover yet. I can tell you he’s definitely made it his home, and anything additional he’s brought in (lamps etc.), he’s put a tag with his name on, which kind of cracks me up.  Oh, I forgot to mention I’m getting $150 more a month.”

  • “I have one rental at $1,550 with 697 PITI. I couldn’t figure out what to do with all my mediocre furniture and stuff so I packed up a lot into a cubby hole and attic in the house. I advertised it as a “furnished” home for rent and ended up getting more money cause of it and I avoided paying for the “dreaded” storage fees. I love how you can just make stuff up as you go along and get payed more for imagination.”

Befriend Your Dealers

Here’s another source for finding potentially good real estate deals. I generate leads from a lot of sources. Two great lead generators I have are a husband and wife team I know. He is a coin dealer and she is an antique dealer. They have referred one house to me before that we did nothing to and flipped and made a good profit.

When I buy houses, I always call my coin guy to come and metal detect the property. That is his FAVORITE hobby and he loves it when I call him for a 150 year old house on a property in the country. He’ll come to the property for three or four days sometimes. The other day he showed up at the current flip house and handed me a 1/10th ounce bullion gold coin. I said “How much?” He said “$140, but no rush; I know you’ve been looking for a while.” I said, “Thanks!” I’m a huge bullion guy.

Anyway, today he came running into the flip house unexpectedly. He said with a huge smile, “I’ve got two houses for you!” He’s 68, I’m 34! He said his wife just appraised antiques at this one house in a town 30 minutes away – a 4/1 2 story that needs a lot of work. And another antique dealer they know is selling her house in a town 20 minutes away.

Unlisted gems!!! He gave me the info. I told him if I got them I’d call him to detect for coins and he said, “I know you will!” Love it!!! Make friends with antique dealers, coin dealers and auctioneers. These folks are always dealing with estates! That’s money.

The above tips are shared by regular contributors to the popular   Q&A forum, by real estate authors and by Jeffrey Taylor, [email protected]. To receive a free sample of Mr. Landlord newsletter, call 1-800-950-2250 or visit their informative Q&A Forum at where you can ask landlording questions and seek the advice of other rental owners 24 hours a day.