Retaining Good Tenants in Burlington

While Burlington is a booming city, it is also an expensive place to live. We have touched on tenant turnover in past blogs and discussed how costly it can be for landlords when it happens.

One of your goals as a landlord is to fill your unit with quality tenants that treat your property with respect, so that when they do leave, they leave your property in good condition, thus minimizing turnover costs. There is an even bigger goal that all landlords should strive for: to retain your tenants as long as you possibly can. If your tenants are moving out every couple of years rather than every year, you will save money.

So what causes tenants to leave? Sometimes the cause is a life change, such as a new job, getting married, buying a house or moving across the country. These changes are inevitable, and there's not much you can do about them.

There are also many reasons that tenants move that can be planned for and/or prevented. 

Here are the top three reasons why tenants move out:

1. Bad Customer Service.

According to recent research, 68% of tenants choose to leave because of poor customer service. As I have said MANY times, landlords are not in the real estate business - they're in the people business. You will not have a real estate business if your tenants (the people) are unhappy. Their unhappiness could be a result of poor tenant-landlord communication, unfriendly contractors and employees, or maintenance requests not being handled in a timely manner.

These issues are things that you can control, and if handled correctly, can help you control tenant turnover. Make sure your tenants have your contact information and know what days of time of day you can be reached. Make it a point to answer those phone calls and emails, or at least respond to them in a timely fashion. When repairs need to be done, do them. Establish a method of organizing maintenance requests and address them in a timely manner. Don't just provide some "quick fix" that may or may not last; put in the money and effort to do the job right the first time. Yes, you will pay more up front, but you will save in the long run. By fixing problems in the cheapest way possible, you increase the likelihood of further damage being done, and being called back again to address the same issue. Why would you ever go address the same issue two or three times when you could just do it right the first time? 

2. Rents are too high.

Renters will leave if they can find a comparable property at a lower rate. You should conduct an in-depth market analysis to determine the rental price of other comparable properties in your neighborhood. You do not want to be the cheapest price around (that raises a whole other issue), but you don't want to be completely out of reach either. By knowing what a fair rental rate is and charging accordingly, you will be able to retain tenants longer and fill vacancies quicker - with reliable tenants - which cuts down on the cost of turnover. 

3. Unhappiness with the unit.

This is the most difficult issue to address. Tenant's apartment standards change. Maybe they've discover things about the unit that they didn't notice prior to moving in. There are some basic things you can do to convince a tenant to overlook minor things that they are unhappy with. For example, make sure all the appliances in the unit are up to date. If a tenant finds a comparable property at a cheaper rate, but your unit has better appliances, you can bet that your property will still be the most desirable.

It is also important to make renting from you convenient and enjoyable. Give your tenants a call every couple of months, just to make sure things are going well for them. See if there is anything you can do for them to make their lives easier. That quick five minute conversation will be recognized and will help you build a relationship. Tenants who are treated with respect and feel their landlord has a genuine interest in their happiness are likely to continue renting. A nice gesture, no matter how big or small, goes a long way!