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12 Ways to Reduce Tenant Churn

December 22, 2021

Reduce Churn and Turnover Costs

Have you calculated how much revenue you’ve lost due to tenant churn over the years?  Some landlords and property manages do have systems to report these losses, but how many are resolving losses from churn?

In some states and cities, the issue of tenant turnover is a current matter.  With spring’s arrival and the easing of the pandemic, more tenants will be vacating the rental. It might be their need for a new job, a personal refresh, more room for an office, baby room, bigger windows, appliances or lower rent. Tenants will be leaving, and there’s a cost associated with that.

Lifetime Value of Tenancy

Perhaps few landlords calculate LTV of tenants, being more focused on other criteria for screening and retention.

They just look for a quality tenant in character, income and credit rating and cross their fingers.  Yet many of these high score tenants, move on. They’re upwardly mobile, ready to start families, want to buy a house, or health issues change their course. If your property management software can calculate LTV, then you can shape your business to focus on long term, paying tenants who really value the rental. They’ll be willing to pay higher rent too.

Yet part of a professional tenant background screening strategy can help you avoid tenant non-payment and future unit vacancies.  What else might you do to cut down on your churn and vacancy rate?

As occupancy rates soar for apartments in the city during the pandemic, landlords in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City are working frantically to hold onto their tenants. But good intentions are not enough.  You must review the reasons why they’re leaving and the personal values that keep them where they are.

Reducing Your Losses

As a landlord or property manager you may be stuck cleaning the unit, making costly repairs to make it presentable again after the renter exits.

Then, advertising the vacancy, screening prospective tenants, and more. And if your unit is in a less competitive condo or apartment building, your margins are too low for this kind of loss.

What Causes Tenant Turnover?

Ultimately, the cause of tenant turnover is actually your value proposition and management techniques. Do smart marketing, choose well and manage well, and your long term outlook improves.  If you’re suffering turnover losses, examine these possible contributors:

Poor Tenant Screening – while high income, well employed, stable tenants are perfect, they’re also likely to move up in the world, and move to a new home. Poor quality, unstable and unreliable tenants can leave for reasons of unemployment or money pressures. All of these issues are foreseeable in your tenant screening check.

Demographics, Young and Struggling vs Older Renters – just being young means the person isn’t established, lacks job skills, isn’t certain about what they want and where they want to live. Younger tenants like change, experience, and new situations. It might be in their nature to be transient.

Better Neighborhoods near Jobs and Better Opportunities – specific neighborhoods have a better employment profile/rate. Some, usually upscale are occupied by tenants who are more comfortably employed and if they leave one job, there are plenty others in their field nearby. Downtown neighborhoods are a case in point.

High Cost of Living – the high cost of living including rental prices means tenants are stretched to make payments and keep their finances healthy. One negative event or cost (medical, car repair) could push them over the edge. They are sensitive to rising interest rates, food bills, and home heating charges.

Rent to Income Ratio – If tenants pay more than 40% of their take-home pay to rent, it leaves no margin for emergencies and the stress may become too much if they have personal debts to service.

The Job Market – the job market today is fast changing with more long-distance moves than ever before. For those in the gig economy, or who own their own business, change is even faster.

The Economy in Regions – cities and communities in upcoming cities such as Houston, Dallas, Austin, Las Vegas, and Seattle benefit from thriving economies. In cities and neighborhoods in decline, the vacancy problem increases. This is why investors invest nationally and internationally rather than local.

Quality of Relationship and Communication with Tenants – some landlords and owners keep their distance from tenant’s lives.  Yet tenant/owner clashes often result from poor communication and management, resulting in complaints and terminated leases. Either way, the resulting vacancy means property cash flow problems.

As part of an overall strategy to prepare for, capture, and keep long term tenants, you must practice good property management skills. Let’s take a look at 12 practices that could help you eliminate tenant vacancy issues. You might also offer to enhance some aspect of the apartment/condo to increase their comfort. People don’t like to leave their comfort zone.

How To Keep Your Tenants When They’re Going to Leave

When tenants show signals they are going to leave and not renew their lease, you could respond by offering free utilities for 6 months, reduce rent slightly, or keep it at current rental rates.

You might also offer to enhance some aspect of the apartment/condo to increase their comfort. People don’t like to leave their comfort zone.

Here are 12 Top Ways to Reduce Tenant Turnover

  1. take tenant screening seriously – screen well, check references and accept those who are a good fit your building and unit. It’s sort of like a marriage and you can get a sense when you meet them whether they like your house, condo or apartment.
  2. avoid big rent increases – a big increase could be used justify leaving when they didn’t really feel that strongly about it before. Ensure you are ready with new tenants in the pipeline.
  3. respond to tenants questions and issues promptly – get back to tenants using SMS, email, or phone. Those long waits, or being unable to reach you could shatter trust and confidence.
  4. ensure the unit and building are in good condition and make regular improvements – don’t let the property go as they’ll feel unappreciated, unwelcome and feel you don’t even care about your property. Consider upgrading or doing a renovation to increase potential rent prices and their comfort.
  5. invest in properties in nice neighborhoods with high or rising employment – tenants love these communities and if employed nearby, they won’t want to leave
  6. invest in properties in neighborhoods with good transit and key intersections nearby – some buildings and communities have very strong demand for units, and vacancy is much more rare
  7. give incentives for tenants to sign a 2-year agreement – They won’t sign long term unless they like your value proposition (property and terms).
  8. modernize with property management software – all in one software takes the load off and makes it easier to stay on top of things so you have more time to concentrate on your tenants.
  9. ensure good relations and communication with tenants – ask for a visit to say Hello and bring them a bottle of wine — appreciation makes them feel good about where they are at this point in their lives (contentment).
  10. provide incentives to stay and pay on time – give them a gift or small discount if tenants in good standing decide to stay another year or two.
  11. be open and honest about mechanical issues and delays – when furnaces, washers, dryers, A/C units, or windows are not working, give them certainty about repairs so they can relax.
  12. keep in touch with tenants — enjoy talking with them and look for signs they’re unhappy or fed up and ask if there is anything you can help with

The issue of lowering tenant turnover is within your management skillset. You know the factors and can ensure you erase the negatives and build on the positives.

Ensure you study your tenant/building issues so you’re not kidding yourself.

If you can save 1 month’s rent, advertising costs, tenant screening costs, and the price of cosmetic repairs, then reducing tenant turnover actually has a valuable ROI. Look at it as preserving your revenue, optimizing cash flow, and maximizing your property portfolio performance.


See also: Learn, Review, Rate Trial Software | Landlord App | Property Management Apps | Rental Market | 2023 Housing Market Trends | HOA Software | How to Reduce Tenant Turnover | Lower Tenant Churn | Property Accounting SoftwareApartments for Rent | Apartment Renovation | Tax Strategies for Landlords | Best Property Management Software |   Property Management Accounting Software |

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