Keeping Those Great Tenants

It’s all about the golden rule, whether you own rental properties here in Indianapolis or elsewhere — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Here’s my recipe for keeping my great tenants happy:

  • Thank them for tending to the house and keeping it clean.
  • Show appreciation for the fact they pay the rent in a timely manner — give them a gift card to a local grocery store or other popular venue, i.e. Target or Walmart.
  • When they call with a repair issue, get back with them immediately, not the next day. This shows you care about them and the apartment.
  • When they have an issue, even if it isn’t something within your realm of duty (like “The cable’s acting up” or “Our internet’s down, for some reason”, don’t brush them off. Try to offer some options toward a solution.
  • When you exceed expectations, your tenants appreciate it. They’ll also share praise of you with other friends/family, often sending you other potential great tenants.

Remember, your reputation is one of your most prized possessions in this business. Providing clean, updated, well-maintained homes is Step 1. Delighting your great tenants is Step 2. And the result? Happy land lording and a happy bank account, of course!


I have a four-plex in a low-income area, right behind a fast food establishment.  The upstairs one-bedroom unit was available and a woman named Eureka came to apply.  She worked the 4-12 midnight shift at the fast food place.  She was in her mid-fifties, had two grown kids and was on her own.

Eureka took the bus to work every day.  She’d been employed there for over a year … her rental house was on the other side of town, however, and when she got off at midnight, the buses had stopped running.  So for the past year, she’d been walking home … a TWO hour trip on foot.  Wow …

She loved the place and hoped to get it.  I checked with her supervisor and current landlord — both gave good references — and when I called her later to tell her the good news, she burst into tears.

We met at the apartment to sign the lease, etc., before her shift started.  It was 10 degrees that day.  She told me she’d be coming there after work, rolling up her puffy winter coat to use as a pilow, and happily sleeping on her bedroom floor for the night.  No more walking home.

As I reached out to shake her hand and tell her, “Welcome home,” she threw her arms around me and tearfully thanked me again.

And this, my friends, is one of the reasons I love my work.  I didn’t make her day … she made mine.  🙂


The Case For Rentals

I’ve owned and managed low and middle income rentals in Indianapolis for over 17 years now, through the good times and the bad.  My goal was to purchase these rental properties for income and long-term investment.  I’ve flipped a few along the way, but that’s never been my model.  Through the years, I added property management to my list of skills … other people’s homes or rental properties.

Why invest in rentals?  There are a couple reasons:

1)  Housing is a universal need.  Regardless of fluctuations in the economy, people need a roof over their head.  And even when everything in the housing market went to hell through 2008 and beyond, my rentals held strong.  Yes, there was more turnover (people were losing their jobs and/or getting laid off more frequently) but I had no trouble filling my vacancies.

2)  There’s a segment of the population that will never be homeowners … those who earn less than $30,000/year will most likely be renters throughout their lives.  And according to the last census, that segment included about 35% of the population.  Furthermore, since the housing collapse, many people have become more wary of buying homes, and even those who can afford it (and get financing) are choosing to rent instead.

Indianapolis is a wonderful city in which to work and raise a family … it didn’t see the horrible downturn in the housing market that some other areas experienced.  Our rental market is strong and will continue to be strong in the foreseeable future.

We landlords and investors are lovin’ it!   🙂