So how do you actually keep your tenants happy and how do you enable them to keep YOU, the landlord happy?
There are a number of ways to make the tenant/ landlord relationship a productive one for both parties. This is in the best interest of you, the landlord, as low tenant turnover translates into cost and time savings. It also helps you, as a landlord, to maintain your property better and minimize repairs as ‘well maintained’ tenants maintain properties better.
Here is a list of things that I have done to keep my tenants happy and around (and kept them want to keep me happy in return):
1.) Signed a Lease-Purchase Option with my tenants. A Lease-Purchase Option is a document that gives the tenant first dips at purchasing their rented property within a specified amount of time for a surcharge at a pre-determined price. Tenants who want to be homeowners absolutely love this, as it gets them closer to own their home. As a landlord you will likely have more responsible tenants who take ‘ownership’ pride in your property in terms of repairs, maintenance, and upkeep.
2.) Agreed to lower the rent with successful on-time payment over several months. Again tenants love this option as they feel that punctuality is financially rewarded. For you as the landlord it guarantees on-time payments.
3.) Agreed to a ‘maintenance option’ in my Lease. In this, and in exchange for reduced rent or other incentives, the tenant is obligated to fix any problems promptly (under $100) him or herself, increasing, again, the feeling of ‘ownership’ and reducing landlord expenses in $ and time. Make sure you inspect any repairs.
4.) This sounds kind of cheesy, but I have made it a point to send Birthday and Anniversary cards to my tenants in good standing, sometimes attaching a $50 Gift Certificate to a Home Improvement Store. This raises the goodwill tenants have for you, as the landlord, AND hopefully they will make a home improvement purchase that will benefit your, the landlord’s, property.
5.) Speak to your tenants often, preferably in person if possible. Don’t bother them of course, if they are busy people, but make it a point to periodically call them or ask your property manager to call, to see how things are, if anything needs to be looked at/ taken care of, or to just get a general feel for the tenants and their current state (as a landlord this is a way to find out if there is a move-out plan and when).
6.) Incentivize your tenants for timely rent payments. In addition, or instead of lowering rent, you can also give a one-time bonus for timely rent payments. Give them bonuses for rent paid on time or early.
7.) Give your tenants one month off rent for each year a lease is signed.
8.) This is important: Fix anything that is broken promptly and address any other maintenance immediately. Do not let issues linger longer than usual but fix plumbing issues, maintain any landscaping, or address appliance problems.
9.) Improve the property throughout the tenant’s stay. Upgrade carpets, kitchens, washer & dryer (if supplied) promptly, if in the budget.
10.) Be reasonable. Don’t threaten or loose your cool with the tenants, when the rent is late, discuss before sending letters. However, stay firm and say what you will do- then do what you say. Be respectful but firm, and always stay professional.
If you are a landlord remember: it is your goal to ensure that it would be painful for your tenant to leave- and I mean ‘painful’ in the best way, i.e. that he/she knows that they already have the best deal around and it can’t get any better. Once you have achieved that, you will rest assured that your tenants stick around for a long time and take care of your property as if it was their own.
Until next time: Happy Investing,
Julia M(oney) Spencer, Real Estate Advisor, Investor, and Enthusiast