How to Retain Residents in Multifamily Communities

There is significant value in being able to retain residents.  If you are above average in retaining your residents, your management company will have less costs associated with marketing vacancies, screening new prospective tenants, performing make readies, and more.  Having retained residents is like an insurance policy that you will be consistently receiving rent on those units without any gaps in the timeline due to vacancies.  There are many things you can start doing today to help improve your resident retention.

Survey Your Residents

You won’t know what the important things are that you should do differently for your property until you’ve asked!  Most residents will simply be happy that they’ve had their voice heard, or even had the opportunity to have their voice heard.  Putting out a survey shows to your residents that you care about providing for their needs, whatever they may be.  Be ready to deliver on these changes.  Some requests may require your immediate attention.  If you put out a survey to your residents, but don’t deliver on any of the improvements or changes that are asked for, your residents can have a more negative impression of the management.

Property/Unit Upgrades

While it can be difficult to upgrade a unit while somebody is living in it, the benefits of doing so are great.  You’ll just need to schedule the upgrade with your tenant ahead of time.  Large changes such as changing the flooring of a unit may not be possible, but appliance upgrades are quick and easy.  If you’re planning on installing new refrigerators into each new unit you rent, you can also offer this upgrade to your older residents.

Offer Incentives

There are various ways that you can incentivize your residents to continue to live at your property. Here are some simple incentive ideas for retaining your residents…

  • Free tablet
  • Flat screen television
  • Paid cable
  • Paid internet
  • Other paid utilities

Another way to do this is to translate it directly over to the rent.  Of course, you should always keep the rents that you charge as close to the market rate as possible, but as the possible rent that you can charge is usually a range, you may be on the lower end of that range for retained residents and the higher end of that range for new ones.  You can provide your valued residents some documentation that shows them how much they saved by staying at your property long-term.

Understandably, this strategy may not work for all communities.  Depending on the area, the properties may already be on rent control.  It may not be realistic in this case to reduce the rent under these circumstances.

Encourage a Sense of Community

Many of your residents may feel isolated from one another.  If the apartment complex feels to rigid and not like home, a resident may be more likely to explore other places to live.  To encourage interactions between your residents, you should schedule monthly events.  They don’t need to be large events.  A little coffee and snacks on a morning or a fun activity in a common area provide small opportunities for residents to meet and greet as well as build a working relationship with management.

Maintain Consistency

Follow up with your tenant at least a couple of times before the end of the lease period.  You should have your renewal process scheduled in your calendar to start about 1-3 months before the end of each lease.  Be consistent in your process.  If the tenant is vacating, have a final scheduled walk through the unit so that if anything is in poor condition. The tenant has the opportunity to remedy the issue (this does not include physical repairs the tenant is not authorized to make).  Even in the cases that you will not be retaining the tenant, you want to end the relationship on good terms so that your apartment community maintains a great reputation.

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