One of the most difficult aspects of owning a rental property is filling vacancies. There is a good chance you already spend time looking for new tenants and pouring through applications every year. In a perfect world, however, you wouldn’t have to deal with this part of the business and your properties would stay occupied longer. While this world is far from perfect, there are things you can do to make the threat of a vacancy less stressful. Instead of treating your tenants like they are just a number, you should treat them like customers. This means going out of your way to make sure they are happy. Happier tenants are less likely to want to move out, making your business that much easier.
Taking care of your property is one of the most basic requirements, and something a landlord can do to keep tenants very happy. Tenants are no different from anyone else in that they want to live in a well-maintained property. From time to time, you should update the landscaping, throw down some fresh mulch and trim overgrown bushes.
Essentially, you need to handle any issues as quickly as possible. A broken dryer may not seem like a big deal to you, but this can be a huge inconvenience for your tenants. The quicker you take care of these problems, the more likely your tenant will take care of your property. Broken appliances and other issues are your responsibility to take care of anyway; so why not fix them as quickly as possible? Showing your tenant that you care about them and the property increases the likelihood that they will want to remain on the lease.
Taking care of the physical items on your property is always important, but so is taking care of the things your tenants may not be able to see. Seasonal maintenance will not only prolong the life of your property, but it will also save you money in the long run. Additionally, it may save your tenants money. Changing the filter on your furnace and cleaning the lines in your oil tank will lower your tenant’s energy costs. Updating the HVAC during summer months will allow the central air to be more efficient. Even if your main goal isn’t about saving your tenants money they will appreciate the effort on your end. Twenty-five dollars a month may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could mean the world to your tenant. Having an efficient property with lower electric or heating bills will keep your tenants happy.
As the owner of a rental property, you want to stay on top of it at all times. While you have the right to know the condition of your property, you should never invade your tenant’s privacy. If you do want to look inside the property, you should give your tenants plenty of notice. The more your tenant feels comfortable in the property, the more likely they will want to stay. By unexpectedly knocking on the door every week or so, your tenant will start to become uncomfortable. You can bet that when their lease expires they will be looking for a way out. Most of the communication with your tenant should be done via email so everything is documented. Only when there is a pressing issue at the property should you make an unexpected appearance.
There is a school of thought suggests you shouldn’t reward your tenants for doing what they are supposed to. However, by having a rewards program in place, you give your tenants incentive to pay on time. You are not giving away an exotic island vacation, but a $25 gift card could make a difference. You can structure the program, reward and length of time to redeem it any way you like. In the big picture, a small reward card to get timely rent payment is well worth it for you. It also makes the tenant interested in paying before the first of every month. Knowing that they have a landlord who is willing to think outside the box and offer a reward may keep them in the property for multiple leases.
There is nothing more annoying and frustrating for tenants than not hearing back from their landlord. Regardless of how big the issue may be, you need to respond as quickly as possible. Many landlords roll their eyes and get frustrated when a tenant calls with a minor question or complaint. In reality, you are only on the phone with them for a matter of minutes. Ask yourself if it is easier to deal with a five minute phone call or spend weeks looking for a new tenant? Dealing with tenants is part of the deal. Don’t let your tenant wait for a return phone call or email. Get back to them as quickly as possible.
A good tenant is worth their weight in gold. If you have one, you should do everything in your power to keep them. Following these little steps can make all the difference.