Many investors shy away from owning rental properties because they’re afraid of being landlords. They don’t know how to find good tenants, they’re fearful about tenants trashing the rental, leaving in the night, running meth labs out of the unit, etc. etc. In reality, these things don’t happen very often! The horror stories are few and far between.
If you advertise wisely (See “Finding That Perfect Tenant”) you’re likely to attract decent applicants. But once you get them in, how do you keep them? First of all, before you get them in make sure the unit is spotless and everything is in working order. Check the drains and faucets to see there are no leaks and the water pressure is good. Do the toilets flush well? Are the shower heads in great condition? This stuff should’ve been taken care of before you showed the place, but it’s always a good idea to double check before your tenant moves in. First impressions are huge.
The most important thing you can do to keep your good tenant is to return his calls, texts or emails promptly. And promptly doesn’t mean the next day. When I talk to applicants, I’m always conversational with them, and the biggest complaint I hear about former landlords is this:
“He/she never returned my calls . . . I had to call about repairs two or three times before I got a call back. And then, it would take three or four days or more for him/her to get someone out to fix the problem. He/she didn’t care about us.”
Which leads me to the second item . . . take care of repair issues immediately! My tenants are sooo appreciative of this. Sometimes a problem can’t be fixed in a day, but when the tenant knows I’m on it, they’re much more willing to be patient with it.
Another thing I always do is announce ahead of time when I’m going to be stopping by. I inspect my apartments occasionally, to ensure my tenants are taking care of them, and I always let them know ahead of time. (After tenants have been with you a while, you know which ones need to be visited and which ones don’t, as far as cleanliness issues.)
And lastly — this is common sense but needs to be mentioned anyway — I always treat my tenants with kindness and respect. When they have guests over, I greet them with a smile, etc. (hey, they could be future tenants). Landlords who are abrupt and/or present a threatening presence to their tenants get no cooperation in return.
As I get to know my best tenants, I’ll give them little perks from time to time, i.e. small gifts at Christmas, or a gift card to somewhere they like to shop, or an upgrade in their unit I know they’ll appreciate. Remember, they are your best advertisement . . . and they will build your reputation.
Attracting and keeping great tenants is one of the keys to being a happy landlord!