Calendar icon October 10, 2023

What is Tenant Retention and 15 Ways to Improve it

What is tenant retention? Tenant retention refers to the ability of property owners or managers to keep their current tenants renewing their leases rather than having them move out and needing to find new renters. 

In the world of property management, retaining tenants is often more cost-effective and efficient than constantly finding new ones. This practice not only ensures a steady cash flow of rental income but also reduces expenses associated with vacancies, marketing, and new tenant screenings. 

To maximize tenant retention, you need a combination of value-driven services, proactive management, and strong tenant relationships. In this guide, we'll delve into 15 top tenant retention strategies.

Second Nature's Outlook: 

"Tenant turnover” is an industry term used from time to time. But we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve the word "tenant." We’ve seen the incredible work property managers do day in and day out to make renters feel like they’re so much more than just a tenant – they’re residents. Making renters feel like residents isn’t just philosophical, it also encourages them to invest in care for their home and add value to the property. This is why, at Second Nature, we prefer to call renters “residents.” Like you, we think of them as people first – making your property their home.

 

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1. Offer a Resident Benefits Package

It’s one of the biggest trends in property management for a reason! 

Offering a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is a strategic move to elevate the overall resident experience. And nothing is more critical to tenant retention than their experience. 

An RBP typically bundles various services and amenities that cater to the modern tenant's needs and desires. This can range from convenience-driven offers like an air filter delivery service or move-in concierge to value-driven aspects like resident credit building and renters insurance programs

By incorporating such a package, property managers not only enhance the perceived value of living in their property but also position themselves as being attuned to the evolving demands of today's renters. 

That’s what makes an RBP such a significant differentiator in the competitive renter’s market, making tenants more likely to renew their leases and stay longer.

2. Address Maintenance Requests Promptly

When it comes to rental experience, property maintenance is a top priority – and, unfortunately, often a top pain point. 

One of the chief concerns for tenants is how swiftly and efficiently their maintenance requests are addressed. Quick and effective responses to these requests demonstrate a property manager's commitment to the well-being and satisfaction of their tenants. 

Delays or negligence can lead to a feeling of being undervalued or overlooked, pushing renters to look for alternative accommodations where their concerns might be treated with greater urgency. 

Moreover, swift repairs prevent minor issues from escalating into major, costlier problems. In essence, by prioritizing and promptly attending to maintenance requests, property managers not only ensure the structural integrity and safety of their property but also build trust and rapport with their tenants, encouraging longer stays.

3. Incorporate a Renter’s Insurance Program

Offering or even mandating a renter's insurance program is a proactive measure that benefits both property managers and tenants.  This insurance covers tenants' personal belongings in cases of theft, fire, or other unexpected events, granting them peace of mind. 

For property managers and owners, it offers an extra layer of protection, as tenants are less likely to pursue claims against the property for personal loss. Additionally, when damages or accidents occur that aren't the property owner's responsibility, having an insurance policy ensures that costs are covered without disputes. 

For owners, it protects their property and protects them from financial losses. They can also often get lower premiums on their own insurance if they can prove their renters are covered with their own policies. 

Second Nature addresses this benefit by offering a renter’s insurance program as part of our RBP.

4. Focus on Security

In today's evolving risk landscape – with digital threats, increasing weather risks, etc. – ensuring tenant safety should be a paramount concern for property managers. In turn, tenants are more likely to stay in a property where they feel safe and secure. 

By installing high-quality security systems, surveillance cameras, weather safety plans, or generators, and by regularly updating and maintaining these systems, property managers can provide an environment where residents feel their well-being is prioritized. 

It's not just about the physical infrastructure either. Identity theft has surpassed home burglary in the level of threat to renters. At Second Nature, we provide $1 million identity protection as part of our RBP. That ensures that residents feel safe – and that their financial stability is protected. That, of course, protects their ability to pay rent. 

A steadfast commitment to safety fosters trust and is a clear indication to tenants that their welfare is taken seriously, thus making them more inclined to renew their leases.

5. Offer Incentives

We all like a nice incentive now and then!

Incentives play a pivotal role in tenant retention, acting as a value proposition that goes beyond just the living space itself. 

For example: By incorporating a credit reporting program, property managers can incentivize on-time rent payments, helping tenants build a positive credit history in the process. This not only promotes financial responsibility but also offers a tangible benefit to the tenant. 

Lease renewal incentives, such as discounted rent for the first month of renewal or free amenity usage, further encourage tenants to stay longer. 

Incentives create win-win solutions where tenants feel they're receiving added value while the property manager and owners benefit through consistent occupancy. 

 

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6. Implement a Rewards System

Building a robust tenant relationship goes beyond addressing their needs; it also involves rewarding their loyalty. Programs in other industries maximize this type of value – think of Starbucks Rewards or Delta SkyMiles. 

A Resident Rewards program is similarly a strategic approach to foster customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty. Unlike direct incentives, these rewards programs offer points or credits for consistent on-time payments, renewing leases, or even care for the property. Over time, these points can be redeemed for tangible benefits or perks like gift cards, discounts on amenities, or special privileges within the property. 

By providing a continuous system of recognition, property managers can cultivate a positive tenant culture, making residents feel appreciated and thereby more inclined to renew their leases. Such a system also nudges tenants to adopt behaviors beneficial to both them and the property management, leading to a harmonious rental ecosystem.

7. Conduct Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are a cornerstone of proactive property management and are essential for maintaining tenant satisfaction. 

By periodically assessing the condition of a rental property, managers can identify and rectify potential issues before they escalate. Whether it's a minor leak or wear and tear, addressing them early on reduces long-term maintenance costs and demonstrates a commitment to providing tenants with a well-maintained living space. 

Furthermore, these inspections offer an opportunity for open communication with tenants, understanding their concerns, and building trust. While it's crucial to respect a tenant's privacy by giving proper notice and scheduling at convenient times, these inspections emphasize the property manager's dedication to preserving the property's value and ensuring resident comfort.

8. Update and Renovate

In the competitive world of rental real estate, properties that remain stagnant quickly lose appeal. By making periodic updates and renovations, property managers can significantly enhance the rental's desirability and rental rates and keep it aligned with current housing trends. 

Whether it's a modern kitchen makeover, a bathroom upgrade, or simply a fresh coat of paint, these changes can breathe new life into a space. Not only do renovations increase property value, but they also communicate to tenants that their living experience is valued and considered. 

Tenants are more likely to renew their leases when they see active efforts being made to improve their living environment, ensuring they always feel they're getting the best value for their money.

9. Offer On-Demand Pest Control

One of the fastest ways to sour a tenant's experience? Leaving them to deal with unwanted pests. It also might put you or the owner at risk of legal action, depending on the state.

Whether it's ants in the summer or mice in the winter, pest issues can quickly escalate if not addressed immediately. By offering on-demand pest control as part of the tenant package, property managers demonstrate a proactive approach to potential issues and ensure that tenants feel their well-being is a top priority. This service minimizes the likelihood of recurring pest problems and showcases a commitment to maintaining a clean and habitable environment. 

It’s also a better ROI than preventive sprays that don’t necessarily address real issues. On-demand services ensure that actual issues are addressed as soon as they pop up (or crawl out!). 

Tenants will appreciate the quick response and effort to ensure their comfort, further solidifying their decision to stay long-term.

10. Include Valuable Services like Filter Delivery

Property managers know that it’s often the small touches that leave a lasting impression – and nip bigger problems in the bud. 

One such valuable service is offering filter delivery. Regularly changing air filters not only ensures a healthier living environment by improving air quality but also boosts the efficiency of heating and cooling systems, saving significantly on energy bills. In fact, a study by the National Rental Home Council (NRHC) found that filter delivery could reduce costs by up to nearly 80%.

By offering filter delivery, property managers remove a common chore from the tenant's list, demonstrating attention to detail and a commitment to their comfort. This proactive approach to maintenance, coupled with the convenience of direct-to-door delivery, can enhance the overall resident experience, making them more inclined to extend their lease.

11. Offer a Move-in Concierge

The moving process can be one of the most stressful experiences for new tenants, filled with a myriad of tasks and uncertainties. In fact, most renters have already made their decision to renew or not within the first 30-60 days. 

By offering a Move-In Concierge service, property managers can significantly ease this transition. This service assists new residents with tasks like utility setups, mail forwarding, local service recommendations, and even scheduling movers or rental equipment. 

Beyond just the practical help, a Move-In Concierge communicates to the tenant that their comfort and smooth transition are a priority. This initial positive experience can set the tone for the entire duration of the lease, making tenants feel valued and well cared for from the outset.

12. Use Digital Solutions

It’s just the reality of 2023 and beyond: Tenants expect digital convenience. 

Whether it's online rent payments, a tenant portal for logging maintenance requests, or virtual property tours, embracing digital solutions can greatly enhance the tenant experience. 

These platforms not only streamline administrative tasks, reducing the possibility of human error but also provide a more responsive and efficient service to residents. For younger generations especially, the ability to manage their tenancy online can be a significant deciding factor in choosing a rental property. 

Property managers who keep pace with technological advancements in the industry not only improve tenant retention but also position their properties as modern and forward-thinking.

13. Vet Tenants Thoroughly

The process of tenant retention begins even before a lease is signed. 

By thoroughly vetting potential tenants, property managers can ensure they're selecting responsible individuals who are more likely to be great tenants – tenants who will respect the property, adhere to lease terms, and foster a positive community environment. 

This involves conducting comprehensive background checks, verifying employment and income, and checking references from previous landlords. 

By choosing good tenants who have a track record of timely payments and good behavior, you set the stage for a longer, more harmonious rental relationship. It's an investment in time upfront that can save countless hours and resources in the long run.

14. Seek Feedback and Act on it

Among the best tenant retention tips: Tenant feedback is an invaluable tool for understanding what you're doing right and where there might be room for improvement. 

Actively seeking out tenant opinions through surveys, feedback forms, or simply open-door policies can shed light on aspects of property management that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

Of course, collecting feedback isn't enough on its own; the crucial step is to genuinely act upon the insights gathered. Whether it's a minor repair, upgrades, or better communication methods, implementing changes based on tenant feedback not only improves the living experience but also shows residents that their voices matter, fostering trust and encouraging longer tenancies.

15. Foster a Strong Property Manager-Tenant Relationship

The foundation of tenant retention often rests on the relationship built between the property manager and the tenant. 

This bond goes beyond mere transactions and lease renewals. It's about understanding, respect, and open communication. By being approachable, responsive, and genuinely caring about tenants' well-being and comfort, property managers can foster a sense of community and belonging. 

Regular check-ins, prompt responses to concerns, birthday or anniversary gifts, and occasional gestures of appreciation can make tenants feel valued. 

A strong relationship not only reduces the chances of tenants seeking a new place but also encourages positive word-of-mouth recommendations, benefiting the property's reputation and bottom line.

Tips for Successful Tenant Retention Program

At the heart of tenant retention is a simple yet profound realization: tenants, much like any consumers, are looking for value, ease, and assurance in their choices. 

When it comes to exploring the topic of tenant retention meaning, for us, it’s all about the resident experience. The key question for tenant retention is simply: “How do we create an experience so good that residents never want to leave?” Answering this question helps property managers identify exactly what residents are willing to pay for and stay for. 

Here are a few tips for approaching the resident experience. Get a much more in-depth look at it through our 2023 State of Resident Experience Report

  • Focus on convenience: Today's residents value convenience more than ever. Be it quick maintenance solutions, easy-to-access amenities, or streamlined communication, the easier you make life for your tenants, the more likely they are to stay. A resident benefits package or on-demand services are ways to weave in this convenience.
  • Embrace digital transformation: The digital age has transformed tenant expectations. Online rent payments, digital lease signings, AI-powered helpdesks, and smart home integrations are just a few avenues where digitalization can significantly enhance the resident experience.
  • Aim for the Triple Win: True success in tenant retention is realized when all parties involved – the residents, property managers, and owners – feel they're gaining value. Implement strategies where each party stands to benefit, ensuring harmonious, long-lasting relationships.

By grounding your tenant retention program in these principles, you not only meet resident expectations but often surpass them.

How Second Nature Helps with Tenant Retention 

Navigating the world of tenant retention can be intricate, but Second Nature simplifies the journey. Our comprehensive Resident Benefits Package (RBP) is meticulously designed to cater to modern tenant needs, offering unparalleled convenience and value. 

By focusing on strategies that drive resident satisfaction, Second Nature ensures both property managers and owners achieve higher tenant retention rates. Embrace the RBP, and witness the transformative impact it brings to your property management endeavors.

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How to Optimize Operational Frequency with Processes and Software

Property management software is currently helping property managers establish efficient and reliable processes at a higher rate than ever before in the PM industry. With that development in the proptech industry has come the development of tech for self-managers that has changed the capacity of the accidental landlord. Thus, the demand for efficiency at scale has risen in order to separate the professional from the amateur, and the establishment of processes that allow such a thing has become a critical topic for professional property managers. Optimizing property management processes Carter Fleck of Triton Property Management, a growth-oriented firm out of northern Virginia that is approaching 300 units with larger goals for 2024, joins us to share his expertise on process definition. Fleck is the General Manager responsible for operations and strategic growth, and he has been developing effective processes to ensure efficiency at Scale at Triton, and in the process, he has garnered an understanding of how to do so. “A lot of failing,” says Fleck. “In the early days, we were getting a lot of good and bad feedback, but typically the bad feedback is what you adjust off of.” Fleck believes that assumptions are the enemy when it comes to defining procedures and sourcing software for your PMC. “The image that we use is if you're going to build a sidewalk before people even start walking on a field, it's kind of dumb. You have to see where people will walk first, and then you'll build a gravel path. So number one, you see where they walk, see where their intentions are in the grass, then you build a gravel path. And then eventually, once that walkway is established, that's where you build your processes and procedures.” The analogy is a visualization of the concept that you have to see how people operate before you can establish processes to make how they operate more efficient. Fleck encourages the negative experiences of process breakdown and cites them as the only way to really nail down what your processes should look like. “Over time, between the tenants giving feedback and owners giving feedback, we adjusted our processes. It's a mix between figuring out where the owners walk and where the tenants walk, and then building paths that align.” Fleck details an example of how Triton adjusted its process after an assumption it made got challenged: "We had an assumption that payment plans were helpful for residents," says Fleck. "And so the way we handled delinquency is we would reach out to them and would be like, ‘you need to pay this. Do you have a payment plan option?’ And they would always say yes. Our process was we'll put you on a payment plan, we'll invite you to a payment plan, you'll accept the payment plan, and then we'll monitor the payment plan. That in itself was a lot of work, but we thought it was doing well. But some of the owners that we had managed for mentioned that another property manager doesn't allow any payment plans. And if you're not fully paid up by the end of the month, then the eviction process starts if you’re over $500 due. So we're like 'alright, well, we'll serve you in that we'll change our processes.' And we did, and our delinquency percentage shrunk significantly. So, consistently, by the end of every month, we're around 5% APR. Whereas with payment plans we're like 5 to 10%.” Fleck obviously credits seeing the assumptions in motion as what prompted the need for process iteration, and he firmly believes that making too many of these assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes growing property management companies make. Like any business experiencing growth, process definition is critical to achieve efficiency at larger volumes. What Fleck is essentially advocating for is processes based on what you know, not what you think, and there is a big distinction. Managing property management software Fleck has installed both general and tech-based processes, and cites that understanding of how people interact with processes as the key in both areas. "They don't focus on user experience. That's really important. Number one, how the tenants like the tech, but specifically how the people who are using the tech are gonna adopt it. So when we were choosing a rent inspection software, we had so many people recommend one, software and I, we almost pulled the trigger on it. But then I was like, let's do a trial run on both these two. And we chose the other one because it was way better user experience for property managers. So user experience, both for us and for residents." Tech is a tool that is ultimately as good as its users, and if it's not used correctly or at all, its potential is wasted. An over-reliance on technology can actually go hand-in-hand with an under-reliance, as both often spring up from a lack of understanding of how to choose, implement, and manage it. In this vein, Fleck can't recall many property managers who operate with too much tech. As long as you're not purchasing redundant software and you've done and continue to do your due diligence, tech-based process can make your business more efficient. "I more often find myself having that conversation," says Fleck. "When I'm talking to property managers in my sub-market, who aren't connected with like a NARPM, who aren't connected with like a Crane group, or who aren't connected with a Second Nature, aren't connected to the tune of what the property management industry is doing and the cutting edge of it, I'm just like, 'you could save so much of your time and you could scale this so much more if you only even if you just had tenant Turner, or if you had LeadSimple.'" No matter what your story is a property manager, if growth is in the cards, so is process and technology refinement. Hopefully, Fleck's experience in these areas can help you stay efficient and organized as door counts grow.

Calendar icon April 19, 2024

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Why offer a tenant benefits package?

In the residential real estate sector, like everywhere else, residents and property investors alike are getting younger – and with this generational shift comes expectations for a certain level of convenience and support. To put it bluntly, today’s residents want their needs proactively anticipated. It’s something they're willing to pay (and stay) for. That’s where a tenant benefits package comes in. In this article, we’ll explore what a tenant benefit package is, how it improves the experience for both property managers and tenants, and crucial mistakes to avoid. Before we get into the details, we want to give a shoutout to our very own “Resident Benefits Package” – which is how we refer to the benefits comprised in the “tenant benefits package.” “Tenant” is not yet a legacy term, but we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve it. That’s because, in our experience, property managers work hard to make renters feel like they’re not just parties to a contract – they’re residents. On one hand, this is just humans being humans, but on the other hand, it also encourages them to invest in care for their new home and add value to the property. Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today. What is a tenant benefits package? A tenant benefits package is typically a bundle of services, conveniences, and provisions offered by a property manager on top of the basic lease agreement. They represent a triple-win situation for property managers, residents, and property owners, as they enhance the overall rental experience, generate additional income, and protect the real estate investment. It might include conveniences such as online monthly rent payment options, or portals for submitting maintenance requests and tracking their status. It could also include various financial perks, such as credit rating improvements that are contingent on on-time rental payments, or discounts on nearby services such as fitness centers. It might also include amenities ranging from move-in concierge or utility set-up services, to identity protection services, to HVAC filter delivery. The cost for resident benefits packages is typically included in the lease and added as a monthly fee, with the fee being dependent on the specific benefits. Indeed, the benefits contained in a tenant benefits package will vary depending on the property manager and the type of rental property. The overall goal is to provide tenants with an enhanced quality of life while simplifying the experience of renting. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package, in response to PMs who wanted to make their business stand out. Our RBP includes an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Why should property managers offer a tenant benefits package? Beyond the triple-win considerations mentioned just above, there are compelling and concrete reasons why property managers should offer tenant benefit packages. We'll turn to these now. Ancillary revenue Some tenant benefit packages include optional services or add-ons that can generate additional revenue streams for the property manager. This might include things like renter insurance or HVAC filter delivery. Resident experience Tenant benefit packages deliver numerous savings and value to tenants, beyond the value they would get if they were obtaining the same benefits "à la carte." Additionally, by offering additional services and conveniences, benefit packages can make tenants feel valued and more satisfied with their living experience. For instance, maintenance hotline requests, tenant portals, and air filter replacements all make life easier. Add-on services like identity theft protection can offer a sense of security. And discounted renters insurance coverage, utility concierge services, or other perks can save tenants money. Decrease tenant turnover and vacancy rates In a competitive rental market, tenant benefit packages can be a major differentiator toward boosting retention rates and reducing vacancy rates. Properties that offer these packages can also attract a wider pool of qualified tenants, and potentially command higher rents. Note that certain benefits in the package, like online rent payments and maintenance requests, can automate tasks and free up the property manager's time. This allows them to focus on more value-added initiatives. How does the tenant benefits package improve the tenant experience? Tenant benefit packages can significantly improve tenant satisfaction in several ways, by making life easier, more convenient, and potentially more affordable. For instance, if an online portal (a baseline feature for most property management software) is included for rent payments and maintenance issues and requests, this eliminates the hassle of writing checks or waiting on hold to speak with someone about a clogged drain. In other words, tenants have the peace of mind of knowing they can manage their tenancy 24/7 from the comfort of their own devices. Some packages might include features like filter delivery services or regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance. This frees tenants from having to remember these tasks – and ensures their apartment is well-maintained. Certain packages might also offer "verified vendor" services – in other words, a vetted vendor network that can help provide a more secure feeling to residents when service providers are on-site. On the financial side of things, a benefits package might offer discounts with local suppliers for various goods and services, or on a renters insurance policy obtained through the property manager (with applicable waivers for residents who have their own insurance). This can save tenants money on a necessary expense. Some packages also help residents with their credit scores via credit reporting and credit building services, so they can transition from renting to home buying when the time is right. The idea is that the credit reporting program reports on-time rent payments automatically to all credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply by paying their rent on time. Some benefit packages include resident rewards programs that represent a powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments, including gift cards or cash. As far as living perks go, packages sometimes include added benefits such as access to fitness centers or community events. This provides tenants with additional spaces to relax, socialize, or stay healthy. Packages can include security deposit alternatives that serve to provide a means for residents to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum upfront, such as pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs. Ultimately, tenant benefit packages create a more professional and responsive image for the property management company, which helps tenants feel valued and allows them to experience a smoother, more stress-free rental experience. What are the mistakes to avoid when offering tenant benefits packages? Property management companies should take care to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing tenant benefit packages to ensure they are providing true value to tenants as well as delivering profitability to the PM company itself. For instance, it's important to ensure that the services you're offering are actually relevant to your target renters. For example, young professionals might appreciate discounts on gym memberships, while families might prefer pet-sitting services. You should also take care to clearly communicate what's included and not included in the package to new residents. Don't oversell the benefits – focus on how they genuinely improve the living experience. It's also very important to set realistic expectations for response times on standard maintenance requests, emergency maintenance requests, or virtual concierge services. Likewise, be clear on all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. If your package includes services from third-party vendors, ensure that these vendors are reputable and reliable. Research their customer service record and responsiveness to ensure a smooth partnership and a positive experience for tenants. Above all, regularly monitor the usage of different benefits within your benefits package. This can help you refine your offerings and ensure you're not spending where spending is not required. Looking for a Resident Benefits Package? If you’re looking for a “plug and play” resident benefits package, Second Nature’s RBP is the way to go. Designed to be easy to implement and simple to use, all the services it includes are managed by Second Nature – which means there’s no day-to-day upkeep required from the property manager: Second Nature keeps it running. It’s a simple way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon April 2, 2024

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