Good tenants are the holy grail of property investment.
An ideal tenant will treat your property like their own, looking after it, getting in touch promptly when there’s an issue and paying rent on time. We take a look at the top five things landlords can do to keep good tenants.
1. Establish a good relationship with great communication
Building and maintaining a strong relationship with your tenant, with transparent communication, goes a long way to converting them into long-term tenant. Treating your tenant with respect and courtesy shows that you value and appreciate them and maintaining good communication reduces misunderstandings. Tenants who feel comfortable and valued are happy tenants, and less likely to move on.
This is where a knowledgeable property manager comes into their own. A good property manager understands the importance of the tenant/landlord relationship and prioritises building a strong connection. Look for an experienced property manager who is committed to providing a high level of communication and customer service at every stage of the rental process.
Get the relationship with your tenant off to a good start from the very beginning. Offering flexible viewing times, assistance with the application process, and a choice of rent payment options all help tenants to feel valued from the get-go.
2. Jump on maintenance and repairs promptly
Unaddressed maintenance issues are a top frustration for tenants. Responding to your tenant’s requests for maintenance and repairs in a timely fashion shows them respect, as well as preventing property problems from escalating. Depending on the nature of the issue, emergency repairs should be completed within days, whilst non-emergency fixes should be attended to within 30 days. Ensure your tenant has access to an out-of-hours number they can call in the event of a property emergency.
While you need to address emergency repairs quickly, routine maintenance is just as important. Not only can it save you time and money by nipping potential problems in the bud and maintaining the value of your property, but well-looked after properties keep tenants happy too. Conducting regular property inspections and keeping your property in good repair shows your tenant that you care about giving them somewhere nice to live. It inspires them to take good care of the property too. Make sure that property inspections are streamlined and not overly frequent, and offer flexible inspection times to minimise inconvenience for your tenant.
3. Ensure rent adjustments are reasonable and consistent
Although increasing the rent you charge is your right as a landlord (subject to the terms of the lease and state legislation), raising the rent by too much or too frequently will not encourage good tenants to stick around.
For fixed term leases in Queensland, the rent can only be adjusted if a rent increase has been written into the lease. Even then, it can’t be adjusted during the first six months of the term. With a periodic lease, the rent can be increased every six months.
Just because you can increase the rent doesn’t always mean that you should. When you have a solid and reliable long-term tenant, it can pay to be conservative with rental increases. Smaller annual increases, in proportion with the consumer price index and the rent charged for comparable properties in the area, are less likely to scare your tenant away, especially if you have built a good relationship with them.
4. Carefully consider tenant requests
Sometimes a tenant will ask to make changes to your property. They may wish to plant a garden, paint inside or out, or affix picture hooks to walls. It’s worth giving requests for minor alterations due consideration. Tenants make these changes so that the property feels like their home, which indicates a desire to stay for the longer term. You can agree to the changes on the proviso that the property is returned to its original state when the tenants vacate. And some of these alterations, such as planting a garden, might even add value to your property.
Another common tenant request is permission to keep a pet. Given that many rental properties don’t allow pets, agreeing to one makes your property very attractive to a tenant and could lock them in for the long term.
5 . Get onto lease renewals early and consider longer leases
Make sure your tenant receives their lease renewal well in advance of their current lease ending. Consider reaching out to them up to 90 days – and at least 30 – before their lease is up. If they know that you would like them to stay, they might be less inclined to start looking for somewhere else to live.
It’s also worth considering asking your tenant to sign a longer lease. While signing a longer fixed-term lease might mean you miss out on opportunities to raise the rent, it might be worth it to hold on to a gold-standard long-term tenant and minimise lengthy, costly vacancies. There’s always the option to write a rental increase into the fixed term lease agreement too.
For more advice on how to attract and retain good tenants, contact our experienced team today.