Prolonged vacancy periods, where your property investment languishes devoid of occupants for weeks at a time, can quickly become problematic when it comes to sustainable cashflow.
Logically therefore, you want to avoid this scenario as much as possible and ensure you keep (preferably long term) tenants residing happily in your rental.
People are perhaps a lot more transient now than they were say, twenty to thirty years ago, moving around in increasingly swelling volumes for work or other reasons.
As such, you could argue that it’s getting more difficult to find tenants who want to hang out for the long haul and maintaining control over occupancy levels is a tougher ask.
But the tenant pool is getting deeper and with the right type of treatment at the hands of their landlord (something you can control!), chances are your tenants might just want to stick around and keep your cash flowing.
Here are five things you can do to help make your tenants feel at home…
- Be responsive
If your property manager calls with a maintenance item that seems relatively inane to you – perhaps it’s a constantly leaking bathroom tap – don’t be tempted to simply dismiss it as ‘not my problem’.
Going the extra mile to promptly and effectively address maintenance issues, be they big or small, tells your tenants you care about their wellbeing and comfort. This will definitely work in your favour.
- Be pet friendly
I don’t understand the whole ‘no pets’ mindset that pervades the property management industry. Of course I know that animals can be messy. But have you seen the havoc small children can quickly create?
With an increasing number of Aussies living in single person households, more of us are relying on the company of a four legged, feathered or even scaly friend for companionship. And we’re a nation renowned for pet ownership.
No pet’s policies can really work against you, alienating a vast portion of your tenant pickings and limiting your scope for consistent occupancy. I believe if they collated data around it, you’d find more of those longer-term tenants who remain somewhere for say three plus years, would own a dog, cat or budgie.
- Be discreet
I often wonder how many landlords read their lease from start to finish. Some seem entirely dismissive of the standard clause in most residential tenancy agreements that states, ‘The landlord must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the tenant has quiet enjoyment of the premises.’
Lack of respect for their privacy is one of the biggest beefs tenants have when it comes to renting.
And if you think you can simply ignore this little piece of legislation, maybe have a chat to the WA property investor who was recently forced to pay more than $24,000 in fines for harassing her tenants with text messages and constant visits.
It’s essential that you maintain a courteous and professional relationship with your tenants. And when paying a property manager to be your go-between, try not to be a part of their lives at all. Unless they really want you there of course!
- Be fair
Greedy property investors who ‘need’ a certain level of income in order to cover their over-capitalised behinds, be it a realistic asking rent or not, are inevitably the ones who cannot sustain long term cashflow and end up losing the lot.
Tenants are not stupid. In fact they’re more educated than ever about the rental markets and will quickly sniff out an overpriced property. Make your asking rent and any subsequent increases reasonable, lest you lose good tenants.
- Be nice
Or at least make sure your property manager is doing so when interacting with your tenants.
The way your property manager is treating you may not reflect how he or she is communicating with others. Ask about their processes and policies for dealing with various issues, in a bid to assess how approachable they might come across to your tenants.
After all…a little bit of kindness goes a long way.
Remember, it’s not just lost rental income that you risk sacrificing when experiencing high tenant turnover, but also significant costs in the form of annual re-letting and marketing fees.
Keeping your tenants happy will help you in securing and retaining residents who will stay on, pay your mortgage and look after your asset.