Like everyone, tenants’ lives evolve. They might get married, start a family, and buy a house, or they could change jobs and move across the country.
Obviously, there’s not much you can do about these big life changes, including the fact that they require your tenants to pack up and move. But if tenants are leaving for other reasons? You can definitely take steps to prevent it and keep those great renters around.
Do you want to reduce turnover and keep your best tenants in the fold? Here are the most common reasons good tenants leave — and what you can do about it:
1. An Increase in Rent
Rent increases need to be small and gradual; otherwise, you risk slipping out of your tenant’s price range (especially in today’s economy). If you’ve proposed a rent increase that’s sending your tenant packing, you should first consider if the hike is really needed. Be careful to weigh it against the turnover and marketing costs you’ll have in finding a new tenant, too.
If it’s warranted, you might consider a few options:
- Splitting the difference: If you proposed a $150 jump in rent, thinking about slitting it with your tenant. They pay $75, and you eat the rest.
- Throwing in something extra: If they’re paying that full $150 extra per month, could you give them a parking spot or some other property perk in exchange for it? Make it worth their while.
- Offering a different unit: If you have a multi-unit property or other properties in your portfolio, think about offering a smaller or less-expensive unit. You could even throw in moving help to keep them in the fold.
Keep in mind that a new tenant won’t only be costly to find and sign on, but they may also be riskier (i.e., not as good at paying rent!).
2. The state of the building and neighborhood
Many times, tenants are simply unhappy with the state of their unit or building. Maybe there are potholes in the parking lot, a cigarette stench in the lobby, or a bug infestation. They might also be dissatisfied with the community they live in; this could include factors such as location, crime rate, noise levels, traffic, etc.
Though there’s not much you can do about the neighborhood, you can work to improve your building if it’s looking run down. In fact, you probably should, as it’s unlikely just one tenant is concerned with these issues.
To make sure you address the most important issues, send out an anonymous tenant survey and incentivize each unit to participate (a gift card is usually good here). Once you’ve identified the biggest issues, make a checklist and get to work.
3. Slow maintenance or ignored repairs
If you take weeks to get on a repair request or allow general maintenance to fall behind, tenants are going to notice, and they very well may take their business elsewhere.
It’s true: Sometimes, tenants leave buildings — but many times, they leave landlords.
This is another reason to use tenant surveys regularly. If you spot dissatisfaction with your services early on in a tenant’s lease, you can course-correct and right your wrongs long before it’s time to renew. And remember: If you’re having a hard time keeping up with repairs or maintenance requests, you might consider enlisting a property management company for help.
4. Poor communication
If you’re hard to get a hold of, especially in an emergency, that can be a real problem for tenants. They need a landlord they can trust: someone to let them in if they’re locked out, someone they can report safety and security issues to and know they’ll be addressed, and someone who will take their concerns and questions seriously when they come up.
Again, if you’re having trouble keeping up with your tenants (especially if you have a lot of them), hiring a property manager might be a good idea.
5. Outgrowing the unit
Many times, tenants simply outgrow their property. They might have gotten married, adopted a pet, had a child, or brought in a roommate to help with the bills. Whatever the reason, the unit’s now too small, and it’s time for them to move on.
If you have multiple properties or units, this is certainly something you can help with. Just work with them to find a suitable property in your portfolio that would meet their growing needs better. You can even take them on tours of the units yourself.
The bottom line
Tenants leave for lots of reasons, many of them preventable. So if you have a tenant who’s great at making rent, takes care of their unit, and generally gives you few issues, make an effort to keep them around for the long haul. Your unit — and bank account — will thank you for it.