Being a landlord is like running a business. Your tenants are like your customers, and your goal should be to keep your customers happy so that they continue to pay you each month. While this relationship is transactional in nature, there are certain things that can make the relationship sour. When a relationship sours between a tenant and landlord, what follows is either a move to evict the tenant or the tenant will seek out a new apartment.
Tenant turnover is a huge hassle that most landlords try to avoid. When it happens, it basically means that their monthly income enters a lull period—one that sustains until a new tenant is found. This can be devastating for business. The rent that a landlord receives each month, in large part, goes back into their various properties. It costs a lot of money to hire gardeners, plumbers, and keep up with general upkeep.
If you’re a landlord who is having trouble keeping tenants in your building, there are a few tricks and tactics you can adapt to keep the turnover rate low.
Take Time to Vet New Tenants
When you’re looking for new tenants, make sure you take your time. In many cases, tenant turnover happens because the wrong tenant filled the space, to begin with. Landlords didn’t take the time to run a simple tenant credit report or didn’t bother to verify references that the applicant provided. It’s not enough to go on gut instinct alone when vetting someone. You should make sure that they have the ability to pay rent on time and that they have achieved a level of stability that won’t threaten your lease agreement.
Evaluate Your Standard Lease Agreement
If you find that you regularly lose tenants a few months into your lease, perhaps the problem is with the lease itself. If you’re currently signing people to month-to-month contracts, that gives your tenants the ability to leave rather quickly. Sometimes even the courtesy one-month notice before eviction is not enough time to find a new tenant, and in this way the month-to-month option may end up backfiring.
Consider switching your lease option to a one-year or two-year minimum. These sorts of contracts also tend to attract more stable tenants; families with kids who will not make a lot of noise or allow the apartment to fall into disarray.
Maintain the Property
Who wants to live in an ugly home? If your tenants walk outside their apartment every day and have to stare at a rusty, unkempt courtyard, their desire to leave is understandable. As a landlord, it your responsibility to make sure that the tenants have a nice, pleasant place to call home.
Instead of approaching this like another frustrating task to complete, try to approach it thoughtfully. If you lived in the building (and you might) what kind of improvements would you like to see? Renovation and upkeep are chances to create a building environment that will not only keep tenants from leaving but attract prospective tenants more quickly.
One of the most useful things you can do as a landlord—a simple step that will make your job easier—is to keep yourself on good terms with your tenants. Check in on them occasionally, even if they haven’t contacted you for repairs. If they do contact you with an issue, make sure you see to it quickly and with minimal hassle. These relationships will dictate how long they stay in your apartment and what kind of reviews they leave for you on landlord review websites (yes, they do exist!).
If you follow these simple steps, it’s possible to reduce your tenant turnover rate to virtually nil. Of course, there will be times when tenants must move because of some sort of obligation—work has relocated them, or they have to move in with an elderly family member—but often tenants leave because they want a change. If you’re able to create an environment that is pleasing, welcoming, and inviting, they will be more likely to stay for the duration of their lease and continue on after the time has been fulfilled.