So can you keep great tenants from leaving in the first place?
“Definitely,” says Brent Mondoux, who has been investing in the Ottawa area for a number of years. “Some of the keys to holding on to our great tenants are by going back to the basics and simply treating them with respect.”
Moudoux has had a relatively low turnover in properties himself, and has forged good relationships with most of them, although he’s quick to point out that business is business when it comes down to things like missed or late payments. He recommends having a preventive system in place that will make payment a straightforward process for tenants and yourself, such as collecting post-dated cheques ahead of time and accepting rent via direct debit or e-transfer. So what are some other tips?
• Be present. Tenants are unlikely to renew a lease for an absentee landlord, and they’re unlikely to be very quick to report breakages and structural issues as well. If you neglect your tenants, chances are your property will pay the price.
“Respond to all reported issues within an hour,” advises Mondoux. “Set expectations in terms of estimated resolution timeframe, and don’t lie. If it’s urgent, don’t delay. Set the wheels in motion immediately to resolve the problem in a timely manner.”
• Go above and beyond. Making your property stand out, particularly in markets with lots of competition, will help your tenants choose to stay rather than explore their options. Providing services like parking lot lighting, commercial garbage bins in larger multiplexes and shovels to clean walkways are things that will contribute to safety and enjoyment of your tenant’s time in your property.
“These small gestures go a long way!” says Mondoux.
• Appreciate your tenants. Another way to keep tenants from moving is to show how glad you are that they’re your tenants! Finding a landlord that’s personable and reasonable is a big draw for renters. For Mondoux, adding personal touches has won him respect and continued cash flow from respectful tenants.
“I show appreciation to them by doing little things like offering discounts for post-dated cheques and/or pre-authorized debits, or buying birthday or holiday cards with a $20 gift card in them.”
• Keep the lines of communication open. Adopting a respectful attitude and talking to your tenants often, not just when there’s a problem, will help determine how likely they are to leave.
“Take the time to check in and see how things are going and get feedback on a regular basis,” says Mondoux. “At the very least have your tenants fill out an annual feedback form that lets you know what they like/dislike about their residence, so not only do you get free advice, but you get to resolve any potential issues that may push away great tenants.”