Turnover is expensive for Cleveland rental property owners. When you are left with a vacant property, it’s not earning any rent for you. As the owner, you’re responsible for paying out-of-pocket for maintenance, cleaning, and landscaping. You have to keep the utilities turned on and make sure the property is secure and safe. Empty homes are often targets for criminals and thieves.
With a vacancy, not only are you losing rental income, you’re also spending money between tenants.
Keeping good tenants in your rental home will ensure a consistent cash flow and increase your long term ROI. When you don’t have vacancy and turnover costs to worry about, you’ll save money and create the peace of mind you need.
At Avalon Group Realty, we work hard to retain the high quality tenants we place by providing an exceptional rental experience for them. We’re responsive to maintenance needs and willing to hear them when they have concerns or need help.
In our experience, good tenant retention depends on good tenant relationships.
And, good tenant relationships require excellent communication.
Today, we’re talking about how effective communication can often increase your ability to retain your best tenants.
Setting Expectations Early
Clear, direct, and well-documented expectations will help you have a better rental experience. It will also set the stage for a positive and professional relationship with your tenants, leading to better chances you’ll retain them.
Before your tenants even move into the property, you need to set forth your most important policies and expectations. Tenants like to know what you want from them. They don’t like confusion, uncertainty, or mixed messages.
Talk about the lease agreement, and answer any questions they may have. Discuss the most important parts of that lease, including:
- Rent collection policies.
- Maintenance reporting policies.
- Rules around smoking, guests, parking, pets, etc.
- Standards for cleanliness.
- Inspections that may take place.
When you open up the lines of dialogue and help your tenants to feel safe and supported, you’re going to create a better relationship and a better rental experience. You’ll be more likely to keep that tenant when it’s time to talk about lease renewals.
Prioritize Maintenance to Retain Tenants in Metro Cleveland
It’s critical to be responsive when it comes to maintenance. Emergencies will obviously require your immediate attention, but you should also treat routine repair requests with a sense of urgency. Try to have even general maintenance requests completed within a week. This will show tenants that you care about them, and it will also be good for your property.
Deferred maintenance will only deteriorate your investment. More importantly, it will leave tenants frustrated. One of the main reasons that tenants leave rental properties is because repairs were not taken care of in a timely manner. Don’t lose tenants this way; make the repairs quickly.
Communication during the maintenance process is especially important. Give your tenants an easy process to follow when maintenance requests need to be made. Follow up with them after the repairs are complete, to understand how the work went and to make sure that everything was completed as expected.
Learn How to Listen to Your Tenants
Active listening is a skill that will help you retain your best tenants. Your communication strategies will improve immensely when you learn how to listen to your tenants. Sometimes, it may seem like they are complaining and demanding impossible things. But sometimes, they just want to be heard. It does not cost you anything to validate their concerns.
Listen with empathy and act with compassion. When you can do that, your tenants won’t be afraid to come to you with bad news. Maybe rent will be late this month or a maintenance issue is causing a lot of stress. You want to welcome that feedback from them rather than repel it.
Always lead with listening. It’s better for your relationship and for your tenant retention plans.
Communicate Early about Raising Rent
Raising the rent every year when the lease renews is typical, and most tenants in Cleveland will expect a higher rent when it’s time to sign another lease. This doesn’t mean you should increase it by 15 or 20 percent. You want to be reasonable, and you want to motivate your tenants to stay, even while the rent is going up. Study the market and make a smart decision about how much more you’ll ask.
When you have great tenants in place who pay rent on time every month, keep the property clean and in good shape, and take care of minor issues around the home themselves, you want to retain those tenants. These are the residents you’re hoping to renew year after year, so implement a small increase that matches inflation and the market rental values. You don’t want to be at the high end of what similar properties are renting for. Keeping a good resident in place is more valuable than a couple of extra dollars in rent every month.
Once you have explored the market rents, set your rental increase at a place that’s just below the market. This will incentivize your tenants to stay. They’ll realize that they’re only going to pay more elsewhere, and they’ll appreciate that you’re giving them a break.
Make sure you’re communicating this value to them.
Don’t be afraid to let your tenants know that you’re keeping the rent lower than what the market would otherwise demand. Tenants appreciate getting value from your relationship and their property. They have probably done the math and determined that moving out would only be more expensive for them. Tell them that you value their tenancy and you want them to stay. Expressing that can feel personal to them, and go a long way towards keeping them in place.
These are our best tips for retaining your good tenants through proactive, responsive communication. Would you like to hear more? Please contact us at Avalon Group Realty. We can help you lease, manage, and maintain your investment property in the Cleveland metro area, including Kamm’s Corner, West Park, Fairview Park, Lakewood, Parma, Parma Heights, Bedford, and Bedford Heights.