MRLANDLORD.COM Tips on Management
26 Ways to Keep Residents Longer in 2012
By Jeffrey Taylor

1) When screening residents, length of employment and rental history are the biggest
predictors of Longevity.

2) Give them market rent or just below it.

3) Respond to resident calls in a timely manner, and take care of the property.

4) Have nicer places and better service than the other landlords in the same area. It’s not
too hard to do. For the most part, our residents like us and refer their friends to us. Most
stay longer than a year.

5) As previously stated, prior rental history is one of the biggest predictors of future
longevity. In addition, ask the following questions on your application, (and really take a
close look at the answers) because the answers can give you clues (both good and bad):
a) What is your reason for moving from your current home?
b) What do you believe you will like best about renting our property?
c) How many years do you plan on staying in your next home? 1 year, 3 years or 5
years?

6) If we get one to stay more than a year, we reward them with a property upgrade.

7) We offer weekly payments to help them with their budgeting and this way we get a
little more monthly rent.

8) The best way I found to predict if people will move a lot is by viewing their credit
report to see if there are many different addresses. If I see people that move around a lot
for whatever reasons, I have a big problem with that.

9) I look for overall stability. If they have three addresses in the last 18 months and four
jobs in the last three years they won’t be staying very long even if they think they will. I
like to see several years at current or previous address and good reasons why they are
moving, I am hearing more and more they are moving because the landlord lost the house
to foreclosure, either to the bank or to the city for not paying taxes, which I can check for
accuracy.

10) Put money into the property if you can. Things like hardwood flooring, porcelain
tiles, top of the line appliances, premium siding, all the bells and whistles you can. Keep
your properties the nicest in town….nobody wants to downgrade. If they look at
other rental options, every other place needs to fall short of what they already have. I’ve
had best luck with people who have gone through a foreclosure or divorce where they
lost a house, and they are in no rush to try that again.

11) We ask the good ones why they are moving. Maybe it’s something that we can fix.
One time I reworked the payment date so that I was the main payment in the middle of
the month. Another wanted more room, so we moved them to a bigger rental.

12) I am pleased when I hear from new residents that I am giving better service than they
got from a previous landlord, especially when we’re better than landlords that I consider
tough competition.

13) I don’t want to lose a good resident for reasons that I could do something about. So I
try to ask myself why I discontinue doing business with a company or person.
Example: We bought a toy through an Amazon supplier that didn’t work. We had to mail
it back at our expense and they credited the cost back to us. It cost us $11 to get our first
$60 back and we still didn’t have a functioning toy. I won’t do business with them again.
Contrast that to Amazon.com itself. The Kindle was under warranty, and the screen went
bad. I called a number, they sent a free shipping label, I mailed in the original and had a
new Kindle within days. I will do business with Amazon all day long.
My point is that I’m ok with Amazon making money off me because I perceive that they
are treating me fairly and I’m getting what I bargained for. The other company irritated
me.
What irritates the resident? Something that seems silly to me? A stain on the ceiling? A
storm door that doesn’t close right? Too many hoops to jump through to get something
fixed? A feeling that they are being nickel and dimed to death? I’m new at this and I am
competing with much more seasoned landlords. I try to remember though that the small
are not eaten by the big – the slow are eaten by the fast.
Right now I have a great young couple that pays every month and keeps the place
immaculate. If they keep this up, I want them to feel like they can start a family there.
How can I make the place more kid friendly? Fence the backyard? How can I meet their
changing needs while they continue to pay my mortgage? How responsive am I now?
That’s how I’m trying to approach keeping good residents long-term.

14) I am a small time landlord but my residents mostly stay unless I kick them out or
unless they buy a house or move out of the area. I make sure they get personalized
service. Every resident is different so every answer is different. With senior citizen
women, they get lonely and need someone to talk to. So I drop in once in a while for a
cup of tea and a chat. For some residents, they do not want to see the landlord so I let
them know they have my number and call me when they need something.
For all residents, I ask at the beginning of every year if there is something they would like
to have done while I am building my maintenance schedule for the spring. For residents
who have strange pay dates, I change due dates to match when they get paid. For
residents who got their hours cut, I lowered the rent by $50 to be reviewed at the end of
the year. For all residents, they can reach someone (not voice mail) 24 hours a day if
they need us. Now if they became a problem, I would move them on down the road.

15) I look for deals on three or four day vacation trips and give my residents a free trip or
cruise. When you have a good resident and that takes care of your property, giving back a
little is a small reward and makes them know you appreciate good residents.

16) Most of my residents stay two to three years. I have a STAR RESIDENCY program
and explain it to my new residents. After a year, they are a “1 STAR” and there are perks,
after 2nd year “2 STAR” and so on. The longer a resident stays, the nicer the perk.

17) I think it has mostly to do with the type of resident you get. Families stay longer than
“roomies” and are less of a headache. Those with stable jobs stay longer than those with
transition jobs. That is a generalization. I usually get residents for two to three years at a
time.

18) I act like a real person and treat them like real people. Not a lot of red tape.

19) All of my residents have been in residence for three or more years, which is the first
time ever! I pray they stay!

20) Most of my residents have emails so I try to send emails at least once a month and
ask them if they have anything that needs fixing. I also share cute emails I receive if it
might give them a smile. Yearly I send out a maintenance questionnaire to see if anything
needs repair or replacement. Most residents stay two to three years, and a lot of them
have been with me over 14 years!

21) I keep up the property with weekly gardeners, fountains, flowers, etc. It makes the
place feel special.

22) All of my residents stay the full year because that is what I require. I want long term
residents. No month to month for me because I am the one who has to clean, repaint, readvertise,
re-interview, schedule showings, etc., and those are the things THAT I HATE
doing as a landlord – mainly because I’m now 26 years older than when I started – way
back in 1985…and I wasn’t too young then. I’ve turned down many people who merely
wanted to stay a few months – or anyone who asks if I have a lease break clause. That
tells me three things: 1) They don’t really like the rental but, hey, might as well take it
until they find something better, or 2) “I just want to try the neighborhood to see if I like
it here”, or 3) “I’m still looking and might buy a house, won’t be in this area very long”,
etc. At present, I have a 10 year resident, a seven year resident, eight year resident, five
year resident, and two residents coming up on their second year, and one vacant rental –
waiting to see what 2012 will bring.

23) I have found that staying in control from the application process through the entire
tenancy can yield you a better satisfied resident. Longer term residents will start in your
application process. Your responsibility will equal your return in your resident!
I start by qualifying residents that have my criteria satisfied and those who show stability
with references, primarily income, credit and rental references. Generally, they end up to
be the best of residents. Over my 30 years of experience I have found that residents with
bad credit typically don’t change, and can be a risk that some are rewarding. My
average resident is somewhere between five and seven years.
I love the business and I love the people. I myself attempt to qualify people, by asking
them with specificity what they’re looking for in a property. And I always show my
properties in Primo, white glove cleanliness! Qualified residents appreciate clean
properties and longer-term residents yield a higher return on your investment and your
time and everyone ends up happier.

24) Our residents have told us that we do things right. I’ve tried to follow Jeff Taylor’s
advice whenever I can. One big difference is service. My son rents in Salt Lake City and
the furnace went out. It took two weeks for the landlord to fix or replace. Fortunately,
they don’t have kids. A furnace went out in my rental building and I had the circuit board
spare in the shed. My resident’s furnace was fixed within an hour of their call. We try
hard to keep up the maintenance too. I will never *let* someone out of a lease unless it
benefits me.

25) We are always easy to reach. Service calls get immediate attention by us or others,
and all the properties are kept neat and clean. Never miss an opportunity to socialize with
tenants and make them team players. Put everything in the Lease and enforce the rules.
Quality long term residents begins with the application process and then professionalism
by the Landlord. Keep it a business!

26) We’re lucky to GET a resident in our market, then lucky if they can keep their job to
stay and pay. I follow Jeffrey’s teaching that the most common reason for leaving is lack
of service. We try to hustle.

The above tips are shared on the MrLandlord.com website and in the Mr. Landlord
newsletter from landlord contributors and real estate advisors and authors featured on
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