Calendar icon May 11, 2023

Resident Retention Ideas and Tips for Single Family Properties

Resident retention ideas help reduce turnover in leased properties–which is, of course, a key element of any property manager’s job. 

But the property managers we’ve spoken to have told us something interesting. Merely thinking about “resident retention” doesn’t capture the generative, behavior-changing work they do every day. 

Why? It’s too transactional and far too basic. Reframing the phrase “resident retention” is the first—and most important–step to brainstorming the type of resident retention ideas that will make an impact not only on your business but also on residents’ lives.

Here are some of the best trends we’ve seen for resident retention in the property management industry.

Related: State of Resident Experience Study


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What is resident retention, and why is it important?

Resident retention is a key part of achieving a Triple Win in property management, whether it’s in single-family (our focus) or multifamily. In transactional terms, the ultimate goal of a resident retention strategy is to increase lease renewal and reduce resident turnover, which results in lower costs and less work for property management teams. 

However, a Triple Win mindset levels this up by asking, “How can we create experiences so good that residents never want to leave?” Resident satisfaction, in turn, maximizes the investor’s ROI and boosts the property manager’s success. A win for residents is a win for investors is a win for property managers. 

This mindset moves from approaching property management as a list of menial tasks into a more generative and entrepreneurial approach. You’re in the driver’s seat as the property manager, and you can create programs and solutions that residents will pay and stay for. 

What residents are saying about retention

In a recent survey by Buildium, only 32% of single-family rental (SFR) residents said they were certain they’d renew their lease this year, and an additional 36% were on the fence. This means that more residents have a desire to move than we’ve seen historically.

Why is that? A couple reasons…

  • 22% said they planned to move to a rental with more appealing amenities or benefits. 
  • 13% said they planned to move because they weren’t happy with the experience at their current rental. 

That’s a huge chunk of residents whose main reason to leave is a lack of the kind of benefits they want or need. 

Property Managers share their best resident retention strategies

These survey findings align with what many property managers are telling us, too. In fact, professional PMs tell us that a Resident Benefits Package is a powerful way to retain residents over the long term. RBPs can help with resident satisfaction and resident retention rates. After all, amproactive, differentiating approach to resident retention means building experiences that people will pay and stay for. 

In multifamily property management, resident retention strategies often center around resident events and building a sense of community. They may try things like holiday parties, happy hours, movie nights, and other get togethers.

But in single-family property management, where you properties are likely very different and spread across a larger region, the strategies aren't always a straightforward.

Here are the top strategies that professional PMs are talking about right now. These help with bringing in new residents and with retaining good residents.

Build easy communication with residents

Relationship building is an important part of resident retention, and the foundation of any good relationship is, as any dating advice will tell you, communication. 

The rise of digital apps, online portals, messaging services, and social media platforms has made it easier than ever to communicate. Studies show that text messaging is on the rise, and most single-family rental (SFR) residents prefer text to other communication channels. Here’s how one study found the breakdown of where residents are communicating the most.

  • 49% are using text
  • 43% are using email
  • 41% are using phone

PMs also know that convenience is key. If residents are attempting to contact you, they likely have an issue that needs resolution. That’s why strategic PMs meet residents where they’re at—and that’s probably online. More PMCs are using solutions like texting, ticketing/inbox, offshore or outsourced staffing, and automation to remain responsive. 

Another great communication channel is seeking feedback by sending surveys to current residents on a quarterly basis. Professional PMs ask what could be improved upon and use the data collected as a source for additional resident retention ideas. At Second Nature, we allow residents to survey and give feedback in their rewards app, and even incentivize it. When you are actively seeking feedback, you can more easily drive positive social reviews and reputation management.


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Invest resources in property maintenance

Anyone can tell you that property maintenance management is critical to a positive resident experience

But sometimes newer property managers only know how to take a reactive approach. They might do an annual inspection or respond to complaints. But they may not be proactively developing strategies to improve the property for themselves and their residents. 

In contrast, excellent property management companies approach maintenance with a benefits-focused mindset. Instead of reacting to property problems, enterprising PMs tend to ask, “What habits and behaviors can I encourage in residents to help keep the property in tip-top shape?”

First, by creating care and value, PMs encourage residents to care for and value the property. But beyond that, PMs can implement strategies that make those behaviors easy. 

For example, a Resident Benefits Package can include air filter subscriptions, 24/7 maintenance support lines, and a renters insurance program – all of which help support residents in maintaining and nurturing the property. After all, it’s easy to change your air filters on time when they show up on your doorstep.

We’ve seen a trend of property managers developing proactive strategies that help residents take care of the property. It pays off in dividends. 

Provide a simple payment portal

Speaking of paying off, most property management companies now offer online payments to residents. It’s true: 73% of residents say they prefer a digital method for payment. That’s the first step. But PMs have told us that many of those legacy payment systems can be difficult to use or don’t actively support residents in making timely payments. 

The next step is to ensure you’ve set residents up for success in making on-time payments. Some PMs set up rewards systems or incentives for on-time payments. These programs can help reduce the amount of time you spend following up on rent. 

For example, Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package has a built-in credit-building service that rewards residents for on-time rental payments. We’ve helped residents increase their scores by as much as 20-40+ points. You can bet that if residents have the option to boost their credit score, they’re more motivated to pay on time.

Focus on resident security

Creating safe spaces to live helps protect both the residents and the properties that you manage. Making it clear that safety is a priority is also an effective way to build a reputation as a property management company that cares. 

Property managers can emphasize the safety of single-family homes through standard practices like ensuring rental properties have flood lights, working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, and solid locks changed after each move-out or before move-in. Surveys can also help assess how safe residents feel in their homes and if your company can do anything to improve security. Regular inspections and good communication go a long way to maintaining excellent security. 

For a Triple Win, property management companies provide holistic, hassle-free insurance. This minimizes hassle for PMs, protects the investor’s assets, and gives holistic coverage to the resident. 

Adopt new technology

Technology brings ease and automation to every element of property management – and every individual involved. In fact, 79% of SFR residents prefer to complete at least some rental processes online. 

Technology helps you deliver competitive features without breaking the bank or slowing you down. And it gives ease and convenience to residents, too. These days, property managers have digital solutions for basically every part of their job, including:

  • Online payments
  • Maintenance request tracking
  • Online rental listings & applications
  • Text and email communication
  • Renters insurance programs
  • Resident screening
  • Document signing, sharing, and storage

Using SMS messaging platforms, online rent payment systems, and resident portals adds more efficiency for property managers while offering convenience to residents. 

The ability to pay rent, make a property maintenance request, or register a new pet or vehicle online creates a seamless experience that the resident can manage independently on their own time while also creating an organized system for leasing agents to respond to those requests. No more scribbling a repair request on a sticky note—now you can automate everything. It’s the best option for everyone involved.

Be proactive

The best PMs are always aggressive. They visit each property at least once each year, not just when something goes wrong. They have automated systems in place to alert them when new needs pop up. They design or invest in benefits packages and perks to serve their residents and stand out from the crowd.

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey’s second habit is, “Begin with the end in mind.” Professional property managers who are ready for the future proactively identify opportunities to improve the resident experience. 

Ask things like: “What can I do this coming year to improve the living experience for my residents?” Maybe that’s new programs, new roles on the team, new technology, etc. 

Whatever creates value for residents is worth an investment because the payoff lasts. 


Happier residents


For all of the above, invest in a resident benefits package

As we’ve seen, resident benefits packages are the best way to build these experiences and perks that residents want. Benefits packages are bundled services that help drive revenue for your investor and drive satisfaction for your residents. 

At Second Nature, we offer services in a custom resident benefits package (RBP) designed by you and managed by us. We developed and designed each pillar of the RBP based on pain points that property managers shared with us – turning those pain points into benefits.

These services include supports like:

  • Routine air filter delivery: This is a cornerstone of our benefits package because one of the most common causes of HVAC maintenance requests is a failure to change air filters on time. We’ve seen a total reduction of 38% in HVAC requests.
  • $1 million identity theft protection: Our benefits package includes identity fraud alerts and protection. Your residents can rest easy knowing every adult on the lease has coverage.
  • Credit building: As we’ve mentioned, we report on-time payments to the credit bureaus so your residents can automatically boost their credit scores just by paying rent on time. 
  • Rental rewards: People love rewards! We include the cost of rental rewards in our total package, so PMs don’t pay more. We include perks like gift cards to local businesses, restaurant cards, cash rewards, and more.
  • Move-in concierge: The first thing most residents do on move-in is make several calls to set up utilities. With our move-in concierge service, residents turn four phone calls into one. They don’t have to contact utility companies; we do it for them and identify the best rates. 
  • Renters Insurance Program: Our benefits package includes price-competitive insurance options to apply to all residents – at one group rate. 

A benefits package puts PMs ahead of the game, proactively building the environment residents pay and stay for.

How 1,000+ professional management companies create Triple Win experiences

Resident retention is far more than a transactional arrangement. We know that a high percentage of residents leave when they aren’t getting benefits they could get elsewhere. 

Forward-thinking property managers take a proactive approach to resident retention by developing experiences that residents are looking for. By creating a fantastic resident experience through offering benefits and support, property managers drive a triple win for residents, investors, and themselves. Higher retention can drive referrals to prospective residents and clients, too.

Offering a resident benefits package that adds value to the leasing and living experience of your residents is as easy as Second Nature.

Keep learning

SFR Property Management Problems and Solutions

In recent years, the single-family residence (SFR) rental market has seen significant growth as more property owners recognize the potential for steady income and long-term appreciation. With this rise in popularity comes a unique set of challenges for the rental property managers (PMs) who are tasked with overseeing these properties. Unlike multi-family units, managing single-family homes can present a range of issues that require tailored solutions. Scattered-site properties also present a logistical challenge, as they are by nature harder to service and manage. From finding quality residents to handling unexpected maintenance emergencies, a strategic and proactive approach is required to ensure a smooth and profitable rental experience. Note that even though we here at Second Nature prefer the term "resident" over "tenant" in order to foster the human element, the word "tenant" may still be used occasionally due to its long-standing legal and real estate context. What Are the Most Common Property Management Challenges? The most common problems faced by SFR property managers generally fall into three buckets: finding quality residents; maintenance and repairs; and time management and communication. Let's explore each. #1 Finding Quality Residents One of the most critical aspects of managing SFRs is resident placement. Indeed, inadequate resident screening processes can significantly impact resident retention as well as profitability. That’s because poor screening can lead to high turnover rates (including evictions), increased property wear and tear, and ultimately, financial strain. Additionally, attracting responsible residents who will treat the property with care and adhere to lease agreements can be particularly challenging in competitive rental markets. #2 Maintenance and Repairs Unexpected maintenance issues are a common hassle for SFR property managers. From plumbing leaks to HVAC failures, emergencies can arise without warning, leading to unplanned expenses and logistical challenges. Finding reliable and responsive contractors who are able to address repairs promptly adds yet another layer of complexity. The inability to swiftly manage these issues can result in resident dissatisfaction as well as potential property damage. #3 Time Management and Communication Managing multiple single-family homes requires excellent time management skills. Balancing the diverse needs of residents, coordinating with vendors, and ensuring regular property inspections can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s essential to establish clear and timely communication channels to maintain good resident relationships and efficient operations. However, juggling these responsibilities can lead to lapses in communication, resulting in time-consuming misunderstandings and unresolved issues. Solutions for a Smoother SFR Rental Experience While the challenges of managing SFR rentals are significant, there are effective strategies and tools available to streamline operations and enhance resident satisfaction. Here are some solutions to common property management business problems. Strategic Resident Screening Implementing a robust resident screening process is crucial for minimizing vacancy rates and securing responsible residents. To this end, utilizing professional screening services can help identify prospective tenants by thoroughly evaluating their rental history, credit scores, and background checks. Clear lease terms and expectations should be established from the outset to ensure residents understand the responsibilities and obligations that occupancy brings. Learn more: Tenant Screening Tips for PMs 10 Steps to Onboard New Tenants Proactive Maintenance Proactive maintenance is key to preventing costly emergencies and maintaining the property’s condition. Scheduling regular preventative maintenance inspections allows property managers to identify and address potential issues before they escalate. Building relationships with reputable and responsive repair professionals ensures that maintenance tasks and requests are handled promptly. Consider leveraging technology that allows residents to conduct their own regular inspections to provide early detection of problems and streamline the property maintenance process (learn more). Vendor and Supplier Selection Choosing the right property management service providers and vendors is crucial to successful property management. Establishing relationships with reliable and responsive contractors ensures that maintenance and repair issues are addressed promptly, reducing downtime and inconvenience for renters. It’s essential to vet vendors thoroughly, checking their credentials, references, and reviews to ensure they meet the necessary quality and reliability standards. Building a network of trusted professionals can lead to better service rates, priority scheduling, and consistent adherence to due dates as well as work quality standards. Additionally, negotiating long-term contracts with preferred vendors can offer cost savings and a more streamlined management process. By prioritizing quality vendor and supplier selection, property managers can enhance the overall efficiency of their operations and maintain high tenant satisfaction. Technology and Automation Incorporating technology and automation into property management can significantly enhance efficiency and communication. For instance, online portals for collecting rent payments and addressing maintenance requests simplify transactions and ensure transparency. They can also facilitate incentives for prompt rent payment, follow up on late payments, and generally optimize rent collection with an eye to optimizing cash flow. Property management software can also streamline vendor and tenant communication, track maintenance schedules, and provide detailed financial reporting. These tools not only save time but also build trust and improve resident satisfaction by ensuring quick and effective responses to their needs. Naturally, you will need to conduct a due diligence process of technology selection and provider assessment that addresses pricing, customer support, and support for the features that are mission-critical for your organization. Second Nature’s Outlook Effective property management is essential for maximizing the profitability and longevity of single-family home rentals. By addressing common challenges with strategic solutions, property managers can enhance resident satisfaction, reduce vacancy rates, and maintain the property’s value. Embracing technology and proactive management practices are critical components of any successful SFR business strategy. Property managers are encouraged to explore these solutions and adopt the approaches that best suit their specific needs. Learn more about property management company best practices, marketing, and more in our Second Nature Community.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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How to Craft a Notice to Tenant to Clean Property [with Template]

Ensuring that rental properties are well-maintained is crucial for property managers and landlords, not only to protect the value of their real estate investment but also to provide safe and pleasant living environments for residents. One important tool for maintaining property standards is a "Notice to Tenant to Clean Property" letter that communicates concerns about cleanliness and outlines necessary actions for residents. In today’s post we’ll cover essential elements you should consider around transparency and effectiveness, as well as a sample letter you can use to craft your own notice. A note on language: Here at Second Nature, we prefer to use the terms "resident" and “residency” rather than “tenant” and “tenancy,” in order to emphasize the human element of property management work. However, there may be instances where terms such as "tenant" are used for legal or industry-standard purposes within documents or communications. In these cases, please understand that our intent remains the same – to provide clear, accurate, and meaningful information to all people involved in the business relationship. What to Do When Your Tenant is a Hoarder? Hoarding can present significant challenges for property managers. It not only poses health and safety risks but can also lead to severe property damage. Here are steps to take when dealing with a hoarding situation: Understand the issue Hoarding is often a complex psychological condition that requires sensitivity and understanding. It’s important to approach the situation with empathy and awareness of the resident’s potential mental health needs. This understanding can guide your interactions and help you manage the situation more effectively. Conduct thorough inspections Regular property inspections are crucial for identifying hoarding behaviors early. These inspections should be conducted in accordance with the lease agreement and local laws. Document any findings with photographs and detailed notes to provide a clear record of the condition of the property. Communicate clearly and compassionately When addressing the issue with the resident, clear and compassionate communication is key. Explain the concerns and the potential consequences if the situation is not addressed. Emphasize that the goal is to ensure a safe and habitable living environment. Provide a formal notice If the hoarding issue violates the lease agreement, a formal "Notice to Clean Property" may be necessary (more on this below). Collaborate with professionals In severe cases, it may be beneficial to involve professionals who specialize in hoarding disorder. This can include social workers, mental health professionals, or professional organizers who can provide the resident with the necessary support to address their hoarding behavior. Follow legal procedures Ensure all actions taken are in compliance with local and state laws. This includes providing the correct amount of notice, following proper eviction procedures if necessary, and respecting the resident’s rights throughout the process. Document all actions Keep thorough records of all communications, inspections, and notices related to the hoarding issue. This documentation can be crucial if legal action becomes necessary and helps protect you as the property manager. By addressing hoarding with a combination of empathy, clear communication, and adherence to legal requirements, property managers can manage these challenging situations more effectively while maintaining the safety and integrity of their properties. Identifying When a "Notice to Clean Property" Letter is Necessary A "Notice to Clean Property" letter becomes necessary under various circumstances. It's essential to recognize these situations in order to maintain the property's value and condition, and to ensure compliance with lease agreements. Routine inspections Routine inspections are an integral part of property management, allowing managers to identify issues early and address them before they escalate. If an inspection reveals unsanitary conditions, excessive clutter, hoarding, or neglect of cleanliness, a formal notice is warranted. This proactive measure helps maintain the property and encourages residents to uphold their end of the lease agreement. Failing to address these issues promptly can lead to severe problems such as mold growth, pest infestations, plumbing issues due to neglected maintenance, and increased costs associated with turnover when a property is vacated. Complaints Neighbor complaints regarding cleanliness issues, such as uncollected trash, odors, or visible clutter, can indicate a need for intervention. Addressing these complaints promptly with a notice demonstrates that management is responsive to concerns and committed to maintaining a harmonious living environment. Ignoring such complaints can exacerbate the problem, leading to pest infestations that can create an unhealthy living environment for residents. Lease violations Most lease agreements include clauses that outline residents' responsibilities for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. When these clauses are violated, issuing a notice is necessary to enforce the lease terms and remind residents of their obligations. Failing to act on these violations can result in significant property damage, including plumbing issues from unaddressed leaks or blockages, mold growth from damp conditions, and ultimately, costly repairs and renovations needed to restore the property for the next resident. This can also lead to increased turnover costs, as the property may need extensive cleaning and repairs before it can be re-leased. The Importance of Clear Communication Open and effective communication is vital in property management, especially when addressing cleanliness issues. A clear, well-crafted notice helps prevent minor issues from becoming major problems and sets the stage for resolution. Proactive approach Early intervention through timely communication can prevent minor cleanliness issues from escalating into significant problems. Addressing concerns as soon as they are identified shows residents that management is diligent and proactive. Setting expectations A well-crafted notice clarifies expectations for resident maintenance responsibilities. By explicitly stating what is required, renters understand their obligations and the standards of occupancy they must meet. Documentation The notice serves as a documented record of the identified issue and the steps taken to address it. This documentation is crucial for protecting the property manager's interests if further action is needed, such as additional fees or eviction proceedings. Note that property managers can proactively address cleanliness and maintenance issues by clearly setting expectations with new tenants from the outset. This can be achieved by including a detailed cleanliness clause in the lease agreement, conducting a thorough walkthrough of the rental unit at move-in, and providing a welcome packet to ensure each tenant knows their responsibilities. During the initial walkthrough, managers should highlight specific cleaning requirements and standards, demonstrating proper care for different areas of the property. Regular communication, such as periodic reminders and tips for maintaining the property, can further reinforce these expectations and prevent issues from arising, ensuring a smooth and mutually respectful resident-PM relationship. Crafting a Compelling and Effective Notice Creating an effective "Notice to Clean Property" involves several key elements that ensure clarity and encourage compliance. Introduction Begin the written notice with a clear statement of its purpose as a formal notification regarding the property's cleanliness and upkeep condition. Include the property address and the resident's name(s) to avoid any confusion. Specific observations Detail the cleanliness issues observed during the inspection or reported by others. Use clear, descriptive language to ensure there is no ambiguity about the concerns. For example, instead of saying "the property is dirty," specify "dirty dishes are piling up, attracting roaches/pests; or “an abundance of waste materials is creating a health hazard/fire hazard." This also helps differentiate the cleanliness issue from normal wear and tear. Reference to lease agreement (optional) If applicable, cite relevant clauses in the rental agreement that outline the resident’s responsibility for maintaining the property in a clean and sanitary condition. This reference reinforces the legal basis for the notice and the resident's obligations – and helps ensure that you are respecting applicable tenant rights and state laws. Outline of expectations Clearly define the expected level of cleanliness and specific actions required to rectify the situation. A timeframe for follow-up is useful for helping the resident to address the issues, such as a 7-day notice period to clean. This approach gives residents a clear understanding of what needs to be done and by when. Consequences for non-compliance (optional) Briefly outline potential consequences for failure to address the cleanliness concerns within the designated timeframe. This might include increased inspections, withholding of security deposits, or legal action, including a potential order to vacate/eviction notice. Note that although it may well become necessary to instigate an eviction process, it’s important to maintain a professional tone and avoid excessive threats to encourage cooperation. Additional Considerations for Specific Situations Different scenarios may require tailored approaches when issuing a proper notice to clean the property. Health and safety hazards If the cleanliness issue poses a potential health or safety hazard, such as mildew/mold growth, pest infestations, or overflowing sewage, prioritize immediate action. In such cases, involving relevant authorities might be necessary to ensure the issue is resolved promptly and safely. Chronic offenders For residents with a history of neglecting cleanliness standards, consider outlining a stricter course of action. This might include increased inspections or even potential lease termination if the behavior continues. Clear documentation and a consistent approach are essential when dealing with chronic offenses. Delivery Methods and Maintaining Records Ensuring that the notice is delivered and documented correctly is crucial for effective property management. Delivery methods Consider the following methods for delivering the notice: Hand-delivery with a signed receipt: This method ensures the resident receives the notice and acknowledges its receipt. Certified mail with return receipt requested: This provides documented proof that the notice was sent and received. Other methods with documented proof of delivery: Any method that provides verifiable proof of delivery is acceptable. Maintaining records Retain copies of the notice, delivery confirmation, and any relevant communication for your records. This documentation is crucial if further action is necessary and serves as evidence that the issue was addressed appropriately. Free “Notice to Tenant to Clean Property” Template Providing a template can simplify the process for property managers. However, it's essential to note that legal advice is recommended to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations. ``` [Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] [Date] [Resident's Name] [Property Address] [City, State, ZIP Code] Re: Notice to Clean Property Dear [Resident's Name], This letter serves as a formal notification regarding the cleanliness condition of the property located at [Property Address]. During a recent inspection conducted on [Date], the following issues were observed: - [Detail the specific cleanliness issues] As per the lease agreement, Section [Lease Section], you are required to maintain the property in a clean and sanitary condition. To rectify the situation, please take the following actions by [Specify Deadline, e.g., 14 days from the date of this letter]: - [List the specific actions required] Failure to address these concerns within the specified timeframe may result in [potential consequences, such as additional fees, increased inspections, or eviction proceedings]. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter. Please contact us at [Your Phone Number] if you have any questions or need further clarification. Sincerely, [Your Name] [Title] [Contact Information] ... Promoting a Culture of Responsibility Maintaining a clean and well-kept property is a shared responsibility between residents and property management. By promoting a culture of responsibility, property managers can create a positive living environment that benefits everyone involved. Encouraging residents to take pride in their living spaces and providing resources such as Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package (RBP) can foster this culture. The RBP can include regular maintenance tips, access to cleaning services, or rewards for maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Ultimately, a collaborative approach leads to what we at Second Nature call a "triple win" — residents enjoy a pleasant living environment, owners maintain their investments, and PMs have an easier role to play in maintaining these thriving, beneficial relationships. Learn more about Second Nature’s RBP.

Calendar icon June 7, 2024

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