Posts Tagged ‘Tenant Retention’

How to attract long-term tenants

Written by Holly Welles on . Posted in edited, For Landlords, Landlord Tips, long-term rental, Maintenance & Renovations, Move-in/Move-out, paid, renters rights, Step 5 - List, Advertise & Show

Fresh out of college with the intention to move from my hometown to a new city, I was searching for an apartment. And when I finally found the listing of my dreams—okay, a listing I could afford—I first had to make sure the landlord was someone I trusted to respect my living situation as much as I respected their property.

For a young renter, meeting with a new landlord can be intimidating. I was nervous about apartment hunting on my own, but even more nervous about failing to see eye-to-eye with my potential landlord.

Fortunately, from our first meeting, my landlord made it clear that my interests were as important as his business. I live in a small building with my landlord residing on the first floor, which makes a healthy rental relationship crucial. Happily, my landlord has a great attitude that has attracted and kept multiple long-term tenants.

I’ve renewed my lease since that first year and have every intention of doing so until my living needs change. How did my landlord inspire this, and how can you take his lead? From moving in to living in harmony, here’s how you can inspire long-term rental relationships with tenants.

1. Consider a compromise

The day I signed my lease, the landlord was showing the listing to two other potential tenants. I had lined up a few viewings and was hesitant to jump on signing without finding out my options. Rather than pressure me to grab the listing while I could, my landlord granted me a grace period—he would not lease the space that day without hearing from me first.

I appreciated that this potential landlord was willing to work with me. His gesture showed me that he valued me as a potential tenant and was understanding of my situation.

If you want to make a good first impression on your tenants, laying the foundation to build a long-term relationship, making even a small gesture can do the trick. A flexible policy can go a long way.

2. Offer a warm welcome

When I moved in, my landlord provided me with a list of his favorite community hotspots and a few restaurant recommendations. His friendliness alleviated all my earlier anxieties about living in a new space, and he established himself as a go-to contact for questions about our neighborhood.

If you want to start off on the right foot, a small welcome gift or some cultivated advice can go a long way. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but a welcome package is a kind gesture that shows you care. Besides free advice, here are some inexpensive items you might want to include:

  • Coffee beans
  • Baked goods
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Map of the area
  • Coupon or gift card for a local favorite
  • Your contact info on a notecard

Note that if you provide consumables, make sure your tenant is aware of the ingredients.

Welcoming your tenant opens a line of communication early on, encouraging your tenant to call you in case something happens. A welcome package is a perfect first step.

Related: Provide Bathroom Essentials on Move-In Day

3. Maintain the “little” things

Neglect can drive a wedge in your rental relationships, particularly if the tenant believes you don’t care for their comfort. Landlords should respond to maintenance requests as soon as possible, and this can include more than apartment maintenance.

Parking was an issue during my first week of moving in because I struggled to perfectly maneuver into my tight space. When I mentioned it to my landlord, he guided me into the spot. He even sent me an appreciative text once when he noticed I had parallel parked like a pro. He took time out of his day for this small act, and I felt appreciative.

Related: Be an ethical landlord

4. Make the area safe

With today’s technology, installing security measures in your complex is simpler than ever.

Browse through the broad selection of modern tech and determine which cameras and locks are most suitable for your building. If you make the adjustments to your property, brief your tenants on new procedures and protocol. You can send out an email or place notes on the doors, but make sure to keep them informed.

My landlord has never compromised in this area. Between a security camera by my parking space and his diligence in maintaining my exterior locks, I feel secure living alone as a young woman. His respect for my security contributes to my decision to renew my lease each year.

Related: Should Landlords (or Tenants) Install an Alarm System?

5. Show respect for privacy

I never have to worry about surprise inspections. That’s not a healthy way to approach the landlord-tenant dynamic, not to mention that the practice is illegal in most jurisdictions. Though you own the property, you should show some tact when navigating a renter’s space.

If you’re planning to enter a tenant’s unit for whatever reason other than an emergency, let them know in advance. Schedule a date and time that won’t inconvenience them, and try your best not to break from it. They should feel happy to see you, not horrified at the prospect you might appear at any given moment for an impromptu check.

In this area, like many others, your relationship rests on your ability to communicate. Maintain a regular back-and-forth where you discuss these things. Tenants deserve privacy, so it’s essential you give them their personal space.

Related: Can a Landlord Enter the Property Whenever They Want?

Building long-term rental relationships

My concerns about navigating my new rental relationship were swept away by the respect my landlord has shown for both the apartment I leased and my living situation. None of his actions take much time or money, but they add up. Not only am I more likely to continue this long-term rental relationship, but I’m also encouraged to do everything I can to make my landlord’s life easier as well.

Your tenants can share my positivity. Start with a small gesture, and go from there.

Be an ethical landlord

Written by Chris Deziel on . Posted in edited, ethics, For Landlords, landlord, Landlord Tips, paid, Step 10 - Repair & Maintain

communicationWhen a landlord has high standards, renters enjoy peace of mind. They know their comfort, safety, and happiness are important.

In return, an ethical landlord enjoys the benefits of happy renters who are more likely to treat the property with care and respect…and stay longer. And that’s good for business.

An ethical landlord has a mission: to supply comfortable and safe housing for a fair price. Here are the traits and practices you should adopt if you want to take this mission seriously.

1. Be accessible and responsive

Whether it’s noisy neighbors, a plumbing leak, or a fallen tree, problems happen. When one arises, renters need to know whom to call. And when they make the call, someone should answer. An ethical landlord will rarely have renters say, “I’ve been trying to get hold of the landlord, but no luck.” Even if it’s a problem you can’t fix immediately, such as rude neighbors, make it clear that you’ve heard your renters’ concerns, and you’ll take appropriate action.

Related:

3 must-learn landlord communication lessons

How to handle noise complaints from neighbors

Noisy neighbors drive me crazy. Now what?

2. Do maintenance right away

When things go wrong, renters’ lives are affected until those problems are fixed. An ethical landlord takes care of problems, whether they are leaks or toilet clogs, as soon as possible. If you can’t respond yourself, have a professional relationship with a local maintenance contractor who can respond on your behalf. It’s not a bad idea to develop a network of tradespeople to ensure that one contractor’s full schedule doesn’t prevent repairs from happening quickly.

Related: How to build a little black book of contractors

3. Set clear boundaries, but be flexible

Tenants have the right to enjoy your property, but they should never lose sight of the fact that it’s yours. The best place to assert this is in the lease, where you spell out your preferences and any rules you want tenants to follow. They’ll appreciate learning these rules before they sign the document, rather than after they’ve become settled.

An ethical landlord recognizes that life is unpredictable and can bend the rules when the situation calls for it. As the saying goes, “stuff happens.”

Related:

Compassion after the storm: Four ways to be there for tenants

7 extraordinary lease clauses I can’t live without

4. Be fair with money

You’re trying to run a business, but don’t gouge people. Besides, if your rents are too high, you’ll probably have difficulty renting your place. Research rental prices so you know what your property is worth on the rental market. A great tool for doing this is a Cozy Rent Estimate report. Set prices in a way that keeps you in the black without creating hardships for your renters.

Charge a security deposit—that’s standard practice—and return it in a timely manner to renters who fulfill the requirements for getting it back. If you need to keep some or all of it, give tenants’ an itemized list of charges.

Related: How to set the perfect rent price for your rental properties

5. Keep good records

When disputes arise over the condition of appliances or structural issues, you’ll be on firmer ground if you have clear records. Those records should include the dates when appliances were bought or serviced, dated statements from property inspectors, and invoices from maintenance and repair pros. When in doubt about whether damage is due to normal wear and tear or to renters’ negligence, those records can help avoid “your word against theirs” scenarios and keep you on the moral high ground. Besides maintenance history, your records should include a move-in checklist.

Related: 10 documents every landlord should keep on file

6. Keep renters in the loop

Good communication involves more than just being responsive. You should also be proactive when you become aware of issues that will affect renters in the future. Whether it’s a hike in the gas bill or the rent or an impending improvement project, renters appreciate knowing about it as far in advance as possible so they can be prepared.

7. Respect privacy

An ethical landlord doesn’t place property ownership above respect for privacy. Local laws may allow you to enter a renter’s home to perform inspections or repairs, but you should never do so unannounced. Make an appointment. That way, renters can be prepared for you, and they won’t feel violated.

Related: Can a landlord enter the property whenever they want?

8. Be careful with private information

When renters sign the lease, they entrust you with sensitive information, such as Social Security numbers. Abusing this information or losing it through carelessness is a violation of privacy, even though you may do it inadvertently. Taking care of that information by storing it safely, and using it only when necessary, shows your respect for privacy. If you keep the information on a computer, make sure the files are protected by a firewall. Better yet, store sensitive files on an external drive.

In a nutshell

When landlords maintain high ethical standards, it’s a win-win-win for landlords, renters, and the community at large. Not to mention it’s also good for business.

The Landlord’s Guide to Property Safety

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Brentnie Daggett

A pair of hands holding a small house. Real estate or insurance concept.

One of the most basic responsibilities for housing providers entails landlords and property managers maintaining safe and habitable living conditions for their tenants.

Most states have requirements to ensure that renters are provided with safe and livable homes. These basic rights, known as the implied warranty of habitability, originated as a result of court decisions in the late 1970’s and is the base structure on which all landlords should develop any safety checklists used.

So what exactly does this mean in terms of provisions? The property owner must ensure that: basic building structures are intact, common areas are safe and clean, there is reasonable access to cold and hot water, trash receptacles and pickup is available, living space is free of vermin and (in most states) that the space is safe from foreseeable theft or criminal intrusion.

Since safety is such a crucial aspect of managing rentals, utilizing a safety checklist will help you address any issues before they become a safety risk or a legal liability.

Indoor Safety Feature Check:

  • Gas Safety: annual safety check on each appliances, pipes or flues that utilize gas
  • Electrical Safety:
    • Ensure outlets are in working order and panels are secure. Do extra inspections during turnover to ensure past tenants did not make unauthorized electric alterations.
    • Check each light to ensure switches are working smoothly, delay could indicate a fire-hazard.
    • Inspect dryer vents, and ensure that exhaust is being released while the dryer is running. A blockage could cause a fire, and might need to be handled with a vacuum hose or by a professional.
  • Fire Safety:
    • Ensure all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order, double-check this during any routine maintenance, as some tenants will not change batteries or take batteries out.
    • Ensure tenants have access to fire escape routes
    • Supply fire extinguisher for residents (Depending on State/Local fire codes)
    • Unclog chimneys so that poor ventilation does not pose a health or fire risk.
  • Structural Safety:
    • Check that walls, stairs floors and other structure is sound.
    • Manage any environmental toxins (mold asbestos and lead paint) appropriately within the space.
    • Check for cracks or holes in the walls or ceilings that can lead or collapse, leaks, or infestations.
    • Check that doors close and open properly, difficulty evacuating through doors poses a fire hazard. Additionally, doors leading outside should have working locks that deter theft or intrusion.
  • Appliance Habitability:
    • Verify that all sinks, showers and toilets have proper water pressure and no leaks. Also, check your water heater’s temp and safety relief valve once a year to remove sediment buildup that can cause failure.
    • Have your HVAC system professionally inspected, and remind tenants to change air filters as this can prevent expensive repairs.
    • Verify that kitchen appliances work properly. Check for potential leaks, that burners ignite properly, and that the refrigerator stays at a proper temp.

Outdoor Safety Feature Check:

  • Walkway Safety:
    • Provide exterior light source(s) to ensure visibility and deter criminal activity.
    • Trim landscape to prevent overgrowth obstructing walkways and allowing for criminal hiding places.
    • Make sure all railings are secure and there are antislip or caution guards in place. Before every wet season do a routine check to ensure tenants will not slip or tumble when grabbing a failing railing.
  • Structure Safety:
    • Check for overgrown tree branches or roots that can cause structural damage, hire a professional to address an area, if need-be.
    • Hire a licensed professional inspect the roof for missing or loose shingles, even slight damage can lead to deterioration of the structure’s insulation, wood or drywall. This can make electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems vulnerable.

To ensure a safe property throughout tenancy, provide seasonal safety inspections and be sure to provide an easy way for tenants to submit maintenance requests so you can address them any health or safety concerns appropriately.

Always to respond to any requests in a timely manner and to take them seriously. This will ensure that you will not only be providing the legal habitability and safety requirements, but also encourages tenants to place a request before a minor issue becomes a major–and expensive–repair. If major repair is not addressed appropriately, some states allow tenants to withhold rent (or even sue).

Due to the serious nature of maintenance repairs in regards to safety, save yourself a sticky situation in the future and keep records of any safety inspections you perform. This paperwork will serve as legal documents in the event that anything happens to your rental, so be sure that you have electronic copies–particularly if your office is within your rental buildings. Your rental software should offer unlimited cloud-based storage for these documents, making them accessible in the event you need documentation of the properties condition in the future.

Author Bio

Brentnie Daggett HeadshotBrentnie Daggett

Brentnie is a writer and contributor for Rentec Direct, providers of management software and tenant screening services. Brentnie is always ready to share relevant industry news and tips for new and experienced landlords alike. To learn more about Brentnie and to discover more great tips for rental management visit www.rentecdirect.com.

Why Tenants Want to Move, and Why Some Don’t

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

Tenants Moving

Leading rental listing service Apartments.com recently asked more than 1,500 renters to describe why they would or would not move in 2014.

The results reveals both shifting trends in renter behavior, and a more lighthearted look at celebrity neighbor preferences.

Affordability, neighborhood and apartment size topped the list of reasons people said they are moving; close to half (46 percent) of former homeowners said they prefer renting; and internet listing services and word of mouth were named as the top two resources for renters during their apartment search.

“This year, both economic and lifestyle factors seem to be on the minds of most renters planning to move,” said Dick Burke, president of Apartments.com. “Many helpful online tools, like Apartments.com, are available to help renters make informed and responsible decisions with highly personalized searches, online video walk-throughs, the ability to post and read reviews and apps for iPhone and Android.”

Why are people moving in 2014? And, why aren’t they?

This year, moving decisions were heavily steered by economic factors. Shopping for a less expensive apartment topped the list of reasons renters are planning to move, while affordability topped the list for why renters are staying put. Other popular responses rounding out the top five reasons for whether or not to move included renter preferences, personal tastes, job security and family issues.

Apartments.com details the top five reasons survey respondents said they are moving in 2014:

Shopping for a less expensive apartment: 24.6%
Wanting to live in a different neighborhood: 13.6%
Looking for a bigger apartment: 12%
Change in marital status: 11.6%
Looking for a smaller apartment, or to live alone: 10%

When asked to check all that apply, the top five reasons that renters said they aren’t moving in 2014:

Can’t afford to move elsewhere: 47.3%
Like the neighborhood they live in: 40.8%
Like the apartment building they live in: 40.8%
Have job security: 22.5%
Like their neighbors: 12.4%

The 2014 Moving Trends Survey also shows that winning the lottery, a job loss or promotion, relationship changes, and noisy or annoying neighbors are the top reasons that would cause settled tenants to change their minds and move. Only 13% believed they could find something more affordable.

Why are previous homeowners choosing to rent in 2014?

Supporting a rapidly growing trend, close to half of all renters (44.1 percent) previously owned a home, up from 35.1 percent in 2013 and 33.6 percent in 2012. Interestingly, homeownership preferences are split right down the middle in 2014:

54 percent of former homeowners wish they still owned a home
46 percent of former homeowners prefer renting
51.2 percent of renters (who have never owned a home) prefer renting
48.8 percent of renters (who have never owned a home) would like to own a home right now

When asked to check all that apply, the majority of survey respondents see the following as benefits of renting vs. owning:

No unexpected repairs (leaky toilet, clogged sink, etc.): 59.9%
No or low maintenance (don’t need to shovel a driveway, cut grass, etc.): 51.4%
Flexibility to move: 51.3%

There was a sizable increase this year in previous homeowners who indicated that they are choosing to rent mainly because they cannot afford homeownership anymore, while the flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live remained as the number two reason for the third year in a row. Apartments.com provides the top five reasons former homeowners are choosing to rent in 2014, and compares these results to its 2013 survey. The statistics indicate the economy continues to be a driving factor for this group of renters:

Can’t afford homeownership anymore: 21.5% (up from 14.2% in 2013)
Flexibility renting offers in choosing where to live: 15% (down slightly from 15.7% in 2013)
Lost home due to foreclosure or divorce: 13% (up from 11.2% in 2013)
To relocate for employment: 12.4% (down from 13.3% in 2013)
Because renting is more affordable: 10.4% (down significantly from 22.2% in 2013)
Who will renters share their apartments with in 2014?

One area that seems to be a constant is renter living arrangements, which have remained nearly identical for the past three years:

Husband/wife/significant other and/or kids: 47.6%
Living alone: 42.6%
Roommate(s): 9.8%

Celebrity Preferences

Only 12 percent of renters planning to stay put in 2014 would change their minds (and move out) if Miley Cyrus moved in as their neighbor. “Apparently, most renters wouldn’t mind if guests at Miley’s parties have their hands in the air like they don’t care!” said Tammy Kotula, public relations and promotions manager, Apartments.com.

More renters would prefer Dakota Fanning (23.4 percent) as their celebrity renter neighbor than Ashley Greene (12.9 percent). Also, Chris Noth (15.1 percent) would be preferred as a celebrity renter neighbor over Nick Jonas (8.2 percent).

Source: Apartments.com

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