Tenant Retention

April 12, 2024, by Christie Slatcher

Are your tenants happy with where they live and with the services you’re providing?

This question is worth your reflection, especially if you’re trying to retain your current residents.

A tenant retention plan is absolutely necessary when you’re renting out property, and when you actively work towards holding onto your best residents, you will earn more money in both the short term and the long term.

Retaining your residents allows you to avoid those expensive vacancy and turnover costs. Why not make it easy for your residents to renew?

Keeping good residents happy isn’t terribly difficult. If you’re a responsive and empathetic rental property owner who knows how to communicate and invests in providing a fantastic rental experience, there’s not much more required of you.

Our Company has been managing properties for over 25 years. Here’s what we can tell you about how to retain your residents and keep them happy in your rental home.

Tenants Are Happy When the Leasing Process is Easy 

Did you know that tenant retention actually begins before you even sign the lease agreement?

Tenants will notice what it’s like to see a property with you and how it feels to communicate with you during the leasing process. Prospective renters are paying attention as soon as they call or message to inquire about a property. If you’re responsive and accommodating, you’ll likely attract them to your property more easily, and developing a professional and positive relationship will not be difficult.  

Meet their needs with compassion and support. Work with prospective tenants to schedule showings at times that are convenient for them. We are available to show properties on the weekends, for example.   

Support your prospective tenants during the application and screening process so they know you’re proactive about answering questions and providing direction. You want to get good residents approved and moved in. Don’t make them wait to find out whether they’ve been approved or denied; send out your letter or make your phone call as soon as you’ve gathered and analyzed all the data on their application.  

You want to provide a stress-free move-in experience, too. Help them feel more at ease by ensuring the lease is signed and the move-in funds are collected before their moving day. Go over the lease agreement and answer any questions. Provide specific instructions on what needs to happen before and during the move-in. 

You can also provide a brief orientation of the home so they know how to set the thermostat and where to find the breaker box. Then, work with tenants on a move-in inspection to ensure that you’re all on the same page about the condition of the property.  

Establish and Maintain Proactive Communication Policies 

A lot of landlords and property managers believe that they’re good communicators, but how do you really know?  

You know when your residents find you easy to reach and easy to talk to. 

Good relationships start with good communication. It’s not a crazy idea to remain open, transparent, available, and accessible to your tenants if you want to retain them. Never leave your tenants guessing what you expect from them. Do not leave their messages ignored or their phone calls not returned.  

Throughout the tenancy, most landlords must be prepared to communicate about:

  • Maintenance
  • Tenant concerns
  • Pest control and landscaping visits
  • Rental payments
  • Inspections or walk-throughs

You’ll also have to discuss the lease renewal. Get in touch with your tenants well before the lease expires so you can talk about their plans and whether they expect to renew.

Prioritize Maintenance and Repairs 

Maintenance is rarely your favorite thing to deal with as a landlord, right? Even simply scheduling the work can feel too expensive, frustrating, and difficult. Costs are rising and even finding good vendors to help you can be a challenge with the labor market squeezed and the demand for these sorts of services soaring. Emergencies are always especially difficult; tenants are emotional and upset and you know you’re going to spend extra on emergencies.

When you have a good maintenance plan in place and you follow it, you’re more likely to retain your tenants, especially those who value responsiveness.

If you’re slow to respond or you ignore the requests altogether, your tenants are likely to leave at the end of the lease term. Make maintenance a priority and respond to all repair needs with a sense of urgency.  

Communicate your maintenance procedures, and then be responsive. It will help you keep your tenants when they know that their repair requests are being heard. Even if you can’t fix something right away, let your tenants know where things stand and what you plan to do about the problem moving forward.

Invest in Property Improvements and Upgrades 

There’s maintenance, and then there are renovations.  

Improvements and updates are not like maintenance in that they’re not generally required to provide a safe and habitable rental home. However, if you want to improve the condition and value of your investment while at the same time retaining tenants, consider making some cost-effective renovations, especially if your tenants have a specific request.  

Perhaps your existing tenant has asked for a more efficient dishwasher because theirs keeps breaking down or is leaking water. Consider installing one. Are they hoping for new paint in the living room? Go ahead and do it, especially if the lease renewal is coming up.  

Tenants want to live in a home that’s attractive and comfortable. They’ll be more likely to stay if you’re improving the property that they live in. Some of the cost-effective upgrades that we have found make a difference in tenant retention include:

  • Replacing out-of-date appliances and installing energy efficient models. Stainless is lovely, but not necessary. As long as all the appliances match, you’ll be in good shape.
  • Painting walls that have become faded or chipped. Avoid touch-up work and paint the whole wall.
  • Cleaning or replacing carpet. If you have the funds, consider upgrading to hard surface flooring. Tenants will love it, and it’s easier for you to maintain over the long term.
  • Updating the landscaping. Create some extra curb appeal for your property.

If you’re willing to hear your tenant’s requests and update your property to make it attractive and competitive, you’re going to have an easier time keeping and retaining your residents.

Pets Contribute to Tenant Retention  

Are you renting out pet-friendly property? If you’re not, you should consider it.  

That’s because research has shown that retention is easily improved by allowing pets. Not only will pet-friendly properties rent faster and expand your potential pool of tenants, but they’ll also help you keep your tenants in place. Your residents don’t want to pay a new pet fee every year by moving into a new property. They also don’t want to spend a lot of time finding another rental home that will allow their pets.  

When you’re willing to consider pets, you’re likely to keep your pet-owning tenants longer. Make sure to check out one of our latest blogs about “Understanding Pet Policies” if you would like to learn more about the benefits of allowing pets at your rental property.  

Provide Lease Renewal Incentives  

As the time approaches when you have to ask your tenants if they intend to renew the lease, think about what you’ll be willing to negotiate. Some of those upgrades we mentioned earlier can be used as a bargaining tool. You can also offer free carpet cleaning or give tenants a gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop when you ask about the lease renewal.  

Small gifts demonstrate gratitude. If your tenants know that you want them to stay, they’ll feel valued and appreciated.  

Don’t Raise the Rent Too Much 

You will likely raise the rent on your property at renewal time, and your tenants will more than likely expect it. They know the market and they understand that rents have been rising while they have been living in your property. You can reasonably raise the rent. Just do it responsibly.  

Study the local rental market and look at homes that are similar to your rental. If you raise the rent but still manage to remain slightly below market, you’ll almost certainly retain your residents. This will encourage tenants to stay because even though their rent is going up, they don’t have to worry about the expense and hassle of moving into a new place that probably will cost just as much.  

If you’re serious about retaining tenants, consider working with an experienced property manager. Retaining tenants is easier in a professionally managed home. Tenants like to work with property management companies instead of independent landlords. There’s more consistency and expertise.

At Jamison Management Company, we have solid and effective tenant retention plans, and our residents enjoy working with us. Our goal is to ‘Elevate the Rental Experience’ for our residents and owners. This is non-negotiable for us; we know that happy tenants lead to happy owners.  

If you need help keeping your residents happy and driving up your retention numbers, please contact us at Jamison Management Company.  

We’d love to talk with you about other successful tenant retention strategies we have used for other properties we manage in Hawthorne, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, and the surrounding South Bay!