The problem with owning residential real estate, many property managers will tell you, is that high tenant turnover can be problematic. According to the National Center for Housing Management, that number equates to 54 percent every year.
For the property owner, this can result in spending excessive time, effort, and money to attract and house new tenants, not to mention lost revenue during vacant periods. In today’s fiercely competitive real estate market, property owners and managers are doing new things to attract and retain tenants.
Some properties offer social activities for tenants as a way to build a community. While Nick Mertens, vice president of property management for Atlas Real Estate Group said that such events can be fun, a landlord’s overall level of service needs to be priority one.
“There are a million places you can live,” he said. “If you want to retain tenants, the best way to do it is to treat them like they have never been treated before,” he says, “which is getting their requests done quickly, being responsive and being respectful.”
Kris Thorkelson knows this well. He helps lead My Place Realty, a property management company based in Winnipeg, specializing in offering quality multi-family homes. He and his team built My Place Realty on the foundation of providing properties that people are proud to call home.
“We offer our tenants a lot,” he said. “This lets them know that we sincerely care, and they reap the benefits. For example, we thought it was important to form partnerships within the community to better serve our tenants, and so we partnered with Bell MTS to offer preferential pricing and expedited services at a discounted rate. We’ve also partnered with several electrical, plumbing and heating companies that are always ready to help when we need them.”
Since many of today’s younger renters are technologically savvy, an increasing number of them are looking to move into “smart homes,” which provide technology-based conveniences. As an example, the now-widespread use of keyless smart locks eliminates the possibility of misplacing your keys is a thing of the past.
“It has the added benefit of reducing lockouts (and those late-night calls when your tenant has lost their key),” wrote Susan Mackey, an interior designer who often works with older homes. “When a tenant moves out, you can change the code, instead of the locks. Remote-controlled thermostats, like Nest, are another good idea and will save renters on heating and cooling bills in the long run.”
A benefit that’s presumably appreciated by renters at One Blue Slip in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY, is help with such day-to-day tasks as doing laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping. This is especially helpful to residents who work long hours or have a long commute, which in New York can mean hours at a time. While the building’s digital concierge does charge fees for some services, they’re offset by the time investment that would be involved in the renters had to do them on their own.
“It’s a smart move on the developer’s part,” said Citi Habitats broker Molly Franklin. “A lot of these luxury units go to international student populations that maybe don’t know how to live on their own yet. Hello Alfred can restock toilet paper—and put it into place.”
Perhaps the most important rental perk, though, writes Will Gordon of Latchel, a company that works with rental property owners, is perhaps also one of the easiest to carry out: superior customer service when it comes to maintenance.
“The number one reason tenants choose to leave is property managers’ slow response to maintenance requests,” he wrote. “One bad maintenance experience can motivate a tenant to start shopping for other places to live.”