Ways to Minimize Turnover (and Lost Income) in Your Rental Properties

Minimizing Turnover on Rental PropertiesIf you own investment property, you are well aware that the goal is full occupancy can be elusive. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on the goal. If you’re currently plagued by high turnover rates that decrease your financial return, take a look at some common sense ways to keep current tenants in place. Develop strategies that will have your renters clamoring to renew their leases.

Basic Principles

The “care and feeding” of satisfied tenants is not an impossible task, but it might require that you revamp your existing policies and procedures to reflect a “customer-first” philosophy. Your tenants are, in very real terms, your bread and butter, and the way you treat them determines your success or failure. If that requires a shift in attitude on your part, so be it.

It doesn’t matter how many properties you own, how long you’ve been investing in real estate, or how successful you now are. High tenant turnover rates decrease your profits. If you allow higher than average turnover rates to continue, you will inevitably suffer financial loss than can be prevented.

By making every tenant feel important, you reinforce the fact that they are important. That sends a powerful message.

Minimize Downtime, but Maximize Benefit

You will, of course, have some tenants leave at the end of each lease term. That downtime can be used to advantage: Schedule major repairs and replacements as soon as you confirm move-out dates. Set the wheels in motion for necessary cleaning, repairs and ongoing maintenance. The sooner you complete the work, the sooner you’ll be able to move a new tenant in.

Here are some additional ideas for retaining your current tenants:

  • Celebrate each move-in with a welcome gift. It need not be expensive: A few bottles of water in an apartment refrigerator, a gift card for specialty coffees at the neighborhood Starbuck’s, or a handwritten note along with a cheese board, a box of crackers and a basket of fruit. It really is the thought that counts.
  • Become more than just an internet address to your tenants. You don’t have to intrude on their lives or daily schedules, but an occasional phone call or quarterly visit is a way to personalize the business relationship––and potentially lead to a long-term leasing experience.
  • Focus on customer service! This is an important one. Never ignore a request for service. Always return phone calls, and never leave a question unanswered. And never make excuses. Just take care of complaints, no matter how minor they might seem. Always follow up to assure that service has been performed and that there are no other problems. 
  • Don’t wait until you get the “intention to move out” notification. Send a thank you note ahead of time and tell your tenants how much you value their tenancy. Offer a “stay put” incentive if they’re exemplary tenants. Or, if they communicate a desire to renew, send an “anniversary gift.” 

Use humor; be a little silly; send birthday cards or holiday cards. Organize a building party or a block party once a year, or schedule an impromptu concert or art exhibit in the lobby of your office building or the parking lot of your strip center. Putting a little fun in your life and your tenants’ world can lead to cash in your pocket. Never forget that!

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