An unfortunate reality is that half of renters turn over their lease within one year, according to the National Center for Housing Management. What’s more, turnover expenses can easily range from $1,000 to $3,000, averaging $1,500 per apartment unit.
But the good news is that nearly 60% of all tenant turnover is controllable. By simply changing how you and your staff listen to and interact with your residents, coupled with minor property improvements, you can greatly reduce the likelihood that they’ll leave.
Read on to discover actionable solutions to keep tenants happy and boost resident retention.
Here are the top six ways to keep residents happy:
- Start with a warm welcome
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Invest in building automation
- Offer incentives
- Check in and follow up
- Maintain general property upkeep
1. Start with a warm welcome
The resident experience starts before a new tenant moves in. As soon as someone signs a new lease, make them feel at home. Be sure to welcome new residents to start things off on the right foot.
First, start by sending them an informative welcome letter with everything they need to know about your property. You can also send a handwritten note before move-in day or leave one in their unit. Another great idea is to host new resident welcome events for the entire community to attend. This gives new residents a chance to meet their neighbors and feel connected right away.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the gorgeous weather in the summer months and plan outdoor events to welcome new residents.
2. Maintain a positive attitude
According to a study by Zillow Rentals, poor staff performance is one of the largest contributors to tenant turnover. It makes sense — how great can an apartment be if the staff doesn’t even want to be there?
Your onsite team’s attitude and behavior can make or break your retention rates. If your onsite staff appears grumpy, unhelpful, or even just disinterested, the resident experience will suffer.
Being a property manager means you’re in the customer service business. So, even when things get tough or overwhelming, keep a positive attitude and remain optimistic.
Implement these best practices and solutions to ensure onsite staff maintains a positive attitude:
- Handle complaints effectively. When a resident complains about something, apologize for the issue and assure the resident that you take it seriously. In most cases, all the resident wants is to feel that someone understands and sympathizes with them.
- Follow the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Always try to put yourself in your residents’ shoes.
- Be thankful. Even on your worst days on the job, remind yourself of the good things — like your happy residents who pay rent on time, or your diligent maintenance staff who handle repairs quickly. This will help you stay grounded and better equipped to handle the negatives.
3. Invest in building automation
These days, everyone craves convenience. We all seek out solutions that will simplify tasks to save us time and effort. So it’s safe to assume that your residents seek convenience in the buildings they live in.
To create a convenient living experience that delights residents, invest in building automation. Automating various processes throughout your property will create the convenient, simple lifestyle your residents seek. And as an added bonus, it’ll also save you time and money!
Examples of building automation that will keep tenants happy include:
- Smartphone-based property and unit access. Invest in a smart building entry system and smart locks for units. That way, residents can open the front door and their apartment door from a handy mobile app.
- Package room. Your residents receive dozens of deliveries every week — and even more around the winter holidays. So, invest in a package room that automatically notifies residents when they’ve received a package.
- Maintenance automation software with online maintenance requests. When something breaks down, your residents want an easy way to report the problem — and they want it solved quickly. So, invest in software that lets them submit online maintenance requests and automates the process of assigning a staff member to the ticket and closing it out upon completion.
- Digital autopay for rent. Make it easy for residents to pay rent by investing in a platform where they can set up automatic payments for their monthly rent.
4. Offer incentives
Few people are immune to an enticing incentive. So, use incentives to encourage prospects to sign a lease or current residents to renew theirs. A freebie or discount will certainly keep tenants happy.
Examples of effective incentives include:
- A referral program. Offer residents a rent credit or gift card when they refer a prospect who becomes a resident.
- Early rent discounts. Offer residents a small discount (for example, $25) for submitting payment before the first of the month.
- Free upgrades upon lease renewal. To encourage residents to renew their leases, offer to upgrade their unit. For example, you could offer free room painting, a new appliance, or carpet cleaning services.
5. Check in and follow up
Maintaining ongoing communication with your residents can significantly impact how they feel about you and your property.
So, check in with your residents every quarter to see how they’re doing, how they’re enjoying the building, and what you could do to improve their experience. It could be a phone call, an email, or a community newsletter — try each and see which method your residents respond best with.
You should also follow up in a timely fashion after every interaction. For example, say your resident requested appliance repairs. After the maintenance has been completed, send them a follow-up email asking whether the repair was effective and how it went. This makes residents feel like you really care about them, which is one of the best ways to keep tenants happy.
Pro tip: Building automation tools can help you keep track of when to follow up with residents. For example, maintenance management software may alert you after a maintenance request has been completed, which will remind you to follow up with the resident.
6. Maintain general property upkeep
Alongside poor staff performance, poor property upkeep is one of the biggest contributors to tenant turnover. If residents are dissatisfied with the property, they won’t want to stick around — even if you do offer incentives.
So, it’s in your best interest to keep up with general maintenance throughout the property, from the entrance to the lobby to each individual unit. Make sure your property is one that residents feel proud of — it’ll help you keep more long-term tenants.
Here are tips to keep your property in great shape:
- Create a preventative maintenance schedule.
- Invest in landscaping to maintain curb appeal.
- Make note of how often common areas need to be mopped, swept, vacuumed, and cleaned — and stick to that schedule.
- Standardize everything. For example, use the same paint colors, tiles, carpets, and other features throughout the property whenever possible. This saves you the headache and hassle of tracking several different features throughout the building.
Resident turnover is inevitable, but there are so many effective ways to reduce turnover rates and save money. By implementing these six strategies to keep tenants happy from the moment they move in, you’ll be on your way to achieving your highest retention rates yet.