Rent Now, Retain Forever!
Retaining residents long-term is generally a pretty substantial goal of all property managers and landlords. Keeping your current roster of residents allows you to focus on issues like building maintenance and upgrades rather than having to incur costs on suite turnovers and pricey advertising campaigns. In fact, a 2011 SatisFacts study estimates that turnover costs a whopping $3,900 per unit. Among other things, this amount includes $1,200 in lost rental income, nearly $800 in concessions and more than $700 in maintenance.
Happy residents are the key component to ensuring the turnover rate in your rental property is low. There are a variety of steps you can take to ensure that your renters love your apartment building and want to stay for the long haul.
Maintain to Retain: First and foremost, it is important to maintain the building. If a resident has a problem in their suite, fix it as soon as possible. If it is a larger problem that may take some time to fix, keep the apartment renter in the loop so they know the status of the issue at all times. Keeping your residents informed in the process and answering their questions and concerns speedily goes a long way to creating a strong relationship. As well, maintain the exterior of the building so that renters will be proud to call it home. Not to mention, a fresh coat of paint and some slick landscaping will do wonders for curb appeal, ultimately placing your property ahead of the dilapidated competition.
Personality Wise: One of the main complaints renters is that they are unable to make their apartment feel like it belongs to them. Allow your residents to personalize their units within reason. Let them hang up photos or paint the walls, or even change the hardware on their kitchen cabinets. Be sure to inform your renters when they move in about the types of changes you are willing to let them make to their rental unit. It is also a good idea to send out a reminder memo each year to prevent any surprises! Let your residents know that they can come to you with questions regarding the personalization of their rental suite and that you will work with them to reach a solution that is viable for both parties.
Come Together: Focus on making your building a community. This means organizing movie nights in a common room, encouraging residents to form teams and take part in charitable events, having a bi-annual garage sale and so on. The more your residents know and care about their neighbours, the more they will want to stay. By the same token, try reaching out to some local businesses to see if you can get discounts for residents who live in your building (coffee shops, pizza parlours, etc.). Imagine the value-add edge you’d have on your competitors if you could offer your renters a discount card that’s recognized by neighbouring companies!
Straight Talk: Keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your residents. Let them know that you’re available to hear their concerns and share building news. Release a monthly newsletter that is available in the lobby or create a Facebook or Twitter page to keep apartment renters up to date on events and improvements/changes around the rental property. As well, put in some “face time” with your residents every so often to let them know you are there for them and so that they can put a smiling face to the company name on their rent cheque. If at all possible, it is a good idea to have an office with hours posted so residents know when they can come speak to you.
If someone has decided to move out despite your best efforts (hey, life happens!), consider doing an exit interview so you can find out if there was anything that stood out as an issue to the resident. This kind of feedback is worth its weight in gold. The more you know, the more you can improve By taking efforts like this, it is likely that your former residents will be more than willing to recommend your building to others!
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-The RentSeeker.ca Team