Ensuring Your Good Tenants Stick Around!
Finding tenants who are diligent in contacting you when there’s an issue, pay their rent on time, and respect your property and the neighborhood isn’t always easy! Once you have clients who maintain and look after their unit like it’s their own, are tenants you never want to see move out. How do you ensure great tenants stick around and what are the tricks?
Each time your property changes hands there are expenses you as a landlord must pay. Things like repairs (even the little ones), painting, cleaning, garbage removal (if items are left behind) advertising, and utility fees all need to be paid while the unit is empty. They all add up and affect your bottom line!
Yes, as a landlord the potential is there for increased rents but working to reduce how often your property is turned over can also prove to be a financial win. You want consistent income, and less time filling and preparing units. Every new tenant has the potential to bring uncertainly and new challenges.
Key First Step
Find and rent to the right client. A complete and thorough background and credit check will give you a good picture of who your potential new tenant is. Don’t cut corners, do the credit check, and make the calls to previous landlords and references.
Now that you have the perfect tenant for your property how are you going to keep them around?
Address Maintenance Concerns Quickly
You own the property, but don’t forget this is their home! Keeping your tenant happy is crucial. Being quick to respond and fix any maintenance requests along with regular property inspections, demonstrates to your tenants that you care about the property and their environment. Nothing upsets a tenant more than unaddressed maintenance concerns. Delays in repairs may be a key factor when it comes time to renew a lease. If a repair is going to take some time, be upfront and let them know, give them a realistic timeline. Staying on top of maintenance will avoid future larger repairs.
Be a Good Landlord
Relationships are important. Don’t be shy, get to know your tenants, be friendly and accommodating. Be as quick to respond as possible and make it as easy as possible for your tenants to contact you. Maintain open communication to help reduce misunderstandings and create a better overall tenant-landlord relationship. Being courteous and respectful goes a long way to make a tenant feel comfortable in the unit.
Know What Amenities Tenants Want
Are there any amenities that tenants want that you could include or negotiate on a renewal? Who are your tenants, could you offer internet, a BBQ, do they have bikes, would secure bike storage be a selling point? A nice “to do” for your tenants is yearly carpet cleaning, overall deep cleaning of the unit or window washing. This is also maintenance that goes to the long-term and overall care of your investment.
Be Ahead of the Game
Do you want the tenant to stay? If so let them know well in advance! Tell them you would like to renew their lease. A good timeline is 90 days in advance of the lease expiring, reach out and ask if they are interested in renewing. Early notice encourages them to start thinking about their plans, and if they decide to move, well, you have lots of notice.
If the tenant is hesitant can you maintain the current rent, without an increase? Are they still hesitant, ask them what they need to make it happen? The relationship you have built up with them will come into play here, a good conversation may be all that is needed, and their ask could be something easily accommodated. Their “ask” may be less labour intensive and more cost effective than finding new tenants. If you can’t meet their “ask” that’s okay, you still have lots of time to fill the property, so it doesn’t sit empty.
Would They Like a Longer Lease?
Are you able to maintain the current rent in exchange for a longer lease, perhaps 2 years? Are you open to discussing the yearly increase, can you reduce it slightly? Yes, this may result in lost profit from yearly increases, but the longer secure income without the work of filling the unit may make up for it. Run your numbers and see if it makes sense for you.
Ensure you are familiar with any, and all the local, provincial, and federal laws and policies as they relate to landlord and tenants. Be consistent in how you treat tenants especially in multi-unit buildings.
Have Rules but Be Flexible Too
Ensure your property rules are in writing and every tenant receives a copy. It is also a good idea to have them initial a copy for your records. If there are consequences to breaking the rules, make sure those are clearly conveyed to your tenants. Those rules can relate to everything from pets, smoking, deposits, safety, maintenance, drains and relationships with neighbours. Going over the rules and expectations ahead of time can save a lot of trouble and headaches down the road.
We have all heard it “rules are meant to be broken” if a tenant is courteous enough to come with a request that goes against the rules, can an exception be made? If you choose to make an exception, put it in writing, and if there are neighbours in adjacent units, be sure to make them aware. If rules are broken, have a conversation first with your tenants before acting. This is another example of why building a relationship is so important.
Be Diligent and Work Together
Taking those initial steps of screening, having open lines of communication, and being on top of maintenance requests and upkeep will ensure better success in securing long-term leases. Tenants who not only want to live in your unit but also respect your investment are golden. It’s what you want because it adds up to peace of mind for you as well!