Tenants moving out of your buy-to-let property always comes with some annoying hurdles. Searching for and securing new tenants and carrying out cleaning and any necessary maintenance tasks and upgrades between tenancies takes considerable amounts of time and money. And if you can’t find new tenants quickly, you risk a void period for your property during which you’ll have no rental income coming in.
A tenant who always pays on time, treats your property with care and respect and doesn’t cause any issues with neighbours is a valuable find integral to a consistent rental income and a stress-free landlord experience. So once you’ve found dependable and respectful tenants, how do you keep them for longer? Keep on reading to find out.
1. Find the best possible tenants to fill vacancies
Finding tenants you’d like to keep around is naturally the first step. You might want to start by considering what your target market of renters is and carry out any upgrades and marketing activities accordingly. For example, students and young professionals often move around every year or two, while older renters tend to want to find somewhere they can call home for a longer period.
Of course, these are all broad generalisations and you can’t choose your tenants based on something like age and occupation. However, different people value different things in their home environments, and catering to these needs and wants can help you find and retain tenants who’ll love to make your property their home.
2. Keep communication clear, consistent and professional
Open communication is key to avoiding misunderstandings and grudges from forming. Always give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property and try your best to organise things like visits from the plumbers when they’re at work to minimise disruptions.
The quickest way to cause disagreements between you and your tenants is not communicating properly what both parties are responsible for during the tenancy. That’s why it’s important to establish some ground rules at the start of the tenancy and to put them down in writing.
This could include things like pet policies, whose responsibility it is to deal with minor issues like clogged toilets and what your tenant can and can’t do to make your property feel like their own space.
3. Address maintenance issues quickly
This shows your tenants that you care about their experience living in your property. Regardless of your other obligations, when maintenance issues crop up, you have to be easy to reach and respond within 12-24 hours.
Addressing small issues like a leaky faucet before they cause bigger problems like water damage also saves you money in the long run. A periodic deep cleaning carried out by professionals can also help avoid things like mold from gaining foothold in your property.
4. Help make your house their home
Your tenants may only be renting, but it’s important that they feel at home in your property. Small things like a lick of paint and a professional carpet cleaning every year or two can help them feel appreciated, especially if they can have some say in paint colours or if they can choose between a couple of similarly priced options when it’s time to replace any furniture.
Little cosmetic upgrades like new chrome taps and drawer handles or new flooring in heavy-traffic areas can not only increase your property’s value, but help make a house a home for your long-term tenants. While these upgrades don’t come for free, they can often be cheaper than trying to secure new tenants. Plus, they might make your property more marketable if you do need to find new tenants.
5. Consider the pros and cons of rent increases
Especially if your tenants have stayed in your property for a few years and rents in the area have gone up during that time, it’s obviously tempting to raise their rent. Before you do so, consider if it’s worth it and communicate with your tenant about it.
If you do decide to increase the rent, it might be wise to offer a rent slightly lower than the going rate for a property like yours for a long-term tenant to help them stay on. Another option is to carry out some cosmetic upgrades in the property to help your tenant feel they’re getting something out of this rent increase. Either option will likely work out cheaper than trying to secure a new tenant.
6. Let them know you’d like them to stay on
Clear, timely communication is also very important when it comes time to consider renewing the lease. If you’d like to keep on your existing tenants, it’s good to tell them that, and to do this about 90 days before their lease expires.
This gives them time to think about it and for you to talk about what could help them stay on. And if they do decide to move on, you’ll still have plenty of time to find new tenants before moving day to avoid a void period in your property.
7. Ask what could help them renew their lease
Finally, if you’re sensing some hesitation in your existing great tenants around renewing their lease, don’t be afraid to ask what it would take them to stay on. As always, clear communication is vitally important and can help you better understand your tenant’s priorities.
How working with a property manager can help you keep good tenants longer
Carrying out all landlord duties for your investment property takes a lot of time, and you have to be available every day. If doing everything we’ve listed in this article sounds like a lot of extra responsibility to add to your already full plate, working with a professional property manager might be right for you.A property management company like Cox & Co can help you find the right tenants for your property and build relationships with them, handling flat inspections and maintenance tasks on your behalf. As tenant relationship management is our bread and butter, you can rest assured that your property and tenants are in good hands with us. You can read more about our property management service here.