Tampa Property Management Tip #18 - 4 Ways to Increase Tenant Retention Without Spending a Dime
Tenant retention provides a huge advantage to any Tampa property management company whom devotes the time and energy. You save your property owner’s a ton of money by eliminating expensive costs getting the unit rent ready again. Painting, cleaning, yard work, and minor carpentry repairs can easily run $1000-$2000 everytime a tenant moves out.
Here are my tips to entice tenants to renew their lease.
1) Do repairs in 24-72 hours and do them right. It is amazing how few property managers actually do repairs on their rentals in a timely manner. The tenants see timely repairs as your first and last responsibility. Since most of them have experienced several landlords that took forever and required 4 or 5 phone calls to fix anything, prompt repair service is a wonderful surprise.
2) Have 1 or 2 back-up trade’s people for every type of job. You will find that certain types of repairs come in waves. Our Tampa property management company manages several hundred rentals, and there are some weeks we have a ton of plumbing repairs and others that are mostly AC repairs. Also good trades people get busy with other clients. They go on vacation, get injured, move-away, and occasionally lose their minds. Think of these vendors like a computer system. You have a primary power source, but if that goes down you immediately switch to auxiliary power.
3) Be flexible and patient when tenants run into financial trouble, just not too patient. I can’t tell you how many property managers have a firm, inflexible policy for rent collection. The rent is either paid by the 5th, or eviction paperwork is filed as soon as legally possible. I find this absurd.
There will be times when good tenants run into financial hardship. I used to become upset by this because I believe rent should be paid before any other bill. Eventually, I just learned there is not a rental utopia out there. 80% of all tenants will from time to time run into financial hardship.
I never let them get two months behind, but I do set up payment plans which will allow them to get caught back up. Tenants will remember your patience during these occasional tough times and are much more likely to renew their lease. I feel that I get an extra year on average out of tenants because of this technique.
4) Do not ever lose your temper with a tenant. It is much better to talk softly and use a big stick calmly and professionally. This means I strive to be polite and respectful even in the worst of circumstances. If a client lies to me about rent, pets, damages, or whatever, I try and not take it personally. A large percentage of tenants lie as sure as the sun rises and sets. It is how the world works. You must establish consequences to these actions. I find that enforcing late fees sends a clear message about rent. I send a 7 day notice to remove unauthorized pets or pay a pet fee. I set-up a payment plan for damages that a tenant can pay off over the course of the lease.
Will all tenants respond positively to this type of behavior? No, but I do not care. If they try and take advantage of me, I call them on it. If they continue, I file for eviction. My goal is to try and avoid escalating a tenant dispute to the point that we are yelling at each other and the tenant becomes very angry. Regardless of who is right or wrong, you should avoid trying to convince people they are wrong. I just state the consequences in a pleasant tone and enforce them.
These 4 tips should be the cornerstone for all tenant relations and retention. If you want a tenant to renew, you need to keep the place in good repair. More importantly, you need to communicate in a professional, patient manner even when they are hostile or lying. Always keep in mind, your goal is to collect the rent, have the tenant take care of your place, and renew their lease. If all these things happened without effort or aggravation there would be no money in owning rental properties or Tampa property management.