How to Increase Tenant Morale in a Post-COVID Economy
In the midst of a property management nightmare fueled by this pandemic, property owners are now being slandered as lazy, careless, money-grubbing individuals who prey on their tenants for their financial buoyancy.
We see many property managers making the mistake of spending so much time on filling apartments with new tenants as fast as they can, that they neglect their existing tenants and seem surprised to find their tenant-retention rate plummeting during a time of increased tenant uncertainty.
The pandemic has spread your resources paper-thin, only multiplying back-office issues as you struggle to adapt to a contact-free business environment.
Those of us in the business understand that managing a property (the right way) requires a simultaneous attention to detail for many different moving parts. From constant service requests and hiring contractors, to chasing down tenants for overdue rent collection, it’s safe to say you have a lot on your plate.
In a time where the odds have never been more stacked against you, we have put together a list of tips to better equip you to thrive in a post-COVID-19 world, and keep your favorite tenants around for longer.
Let’s get started.
Tighten Up Your Screening Process
Like all problems, you have to start at the root. Of course, we all want to fill up our empty housing units, but rushing a tenant into your complex without properly screening them could prove disastrous.
One issue with a delinquent tenant could cause a domino effect of problems for yourself and other tenants, leading to long-term issues that could have been avoided with patience and tenacity for finding the right tenant.
An article by Twin Cities Leasing stressed a poor tenant screening process as one of the most glaring issues in tenant retention today. You’re looking for stable tenants who will stay for more than one renting period. A renter who will likely not be renewed at the end of the rental period only puts you right back where you started, if not further behind at the end of every lease.
In this case, quality over quantity proves successful yet again.
A complex full of respectful, caring renters will foster a sense of community and raise tenant morale and retention alike.
Now that you have a building full of fantastic tenants, let’s look at how to keep them happy.
Personalized Agreements for Tenants
Trust us, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Nothing increases tenant morale more than a tenant feeling heard and accommodated by their property manager. A great way to ensure this is to adapt your rental agreement to fit various needs of your tenants.
Every renter is going to have different needs, and it’s your job to figure out what those needs are. An article by Rent Prep suggests sending a survey to your tenants, which is a quick and easy way to find out your tenants’ needs.
Some families need an extra parking space, whereas another tenant likes the lobby thermostat set exactly at 71 degrees. Obliging these needs can drastically improve tenant retention.
It is important to keep an open conversation with your clients about what they need in their living space. A blog post by Bigger Pockets explores how keeping a “dream improvements list” can improve both tenant morale and ROI. Even the smallest of improvements can go a long way to show your tenants that you care and you are trying to keep them happy.
“But tenants don’t always know what they want!” – Quick fix. An article on Zillow discusses making a renewal menu for your current tenants, offering them a range of perks for them to pick from in exchange for renewing their lease. Pretty smart huh?
Communication and Transparency
We’ve all heard the thousands of renter horror stories; hidden fees, random upcharges, poor response times for maintenance requests. Renters have never been more weary of being scammed, mistreated, or neglected, by property management during these times on uncertainty.
That’s what makes communication and transparency absolutely vital for property managers moving forward. A blog post by Property Ware stresses that being upfront with prospective tenants does in fact pay more dividends in the long run.
This process should begin with the rental agreement, which should be extremely thorough. The more they know in the beginning, the less you’ll have to spring upon them later. Once they have signed their beautifully in-depth lease agreement, the rest all comes down to communication.
The same article goes into great detail about various ways your communication with clients can go a long way. You’d be surprised at how much tenants appreciate prompt replies and a clear communication plan.
Any experienced property manager knows that the name of the game is not acquisition; its retention. Throwing an under-qualified tenant into a unit, knowing that they won’t resign their lease, is a temporary solution for a permanent problem.
Property managers should be working more to appeal to current tenants and less to attract prospective tenants. Lay the foundation for your business by ensuring that your current tenants are happy. Happy tenants are sure to tell friends about their fantastic living situation, and your complex will become highly attractive without implementing an expensive marketing campaign.
By implementing these three simple strategies, the safety net that will develop around your property will give you the security and reassurance to thrive in a post-COVID economy with confidence.