By: Demetrios Salpoglou
Being a landlord in Boston isn’t the easiest thing in the world. In many cases, it can seem as if Massachusetts law is stacked against you, especially when it comes to dealing with difficult tenants. That being said, when you do get a good tenant, it’s important you do everything in your power to retain them. So if you want your reliable tenants to stick around after their lease is up, then you need to know how to keep them happy. Here’s how you can do just that:
Whether its sending out a monthly newsletter, dropping a note in the mailbox, or even sending out a mass text, its important your tenants know what’s occurring, especially if it involves work being done or there is a problem on the property. In this case, a note may not be enough. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call each tenants when something is being done that they should know about. The more they are informed, the more trust you will build, thus be more likely to retain them when it’s time to resign the lease. If there is a large group of people living at the property, put them on one group text. Having a group text with all tenants on it helps with accountability and ease of property management. For example, if you have a multi-family property and there are two units but you keep noticing trash left outside or overfull barrels, finger pointing often occurs. One group of tenants will blame the other group of tenants and it can create a circular conversation of pain. One of the way to avoid the run around, is to put them all on one communication in both email and text, and respectfully request that everyone is responsible for the health and wellbeing of all parties involved. Overtime you will find that when a property manager or landlord increases transparency and leadership to any situation that things magically get much better. The bottom line is that tenants work better with you when they know like and trust you, and that is created through communicating more and staying impeccable with your word.
It’s also imperative that if you have service people coming over to fix or replace utilities that you have notified them of the time frame that they are coming over. Just saying they are coming over tomorrow isn’t enough. A great property or landlords tries to give the tightest window possible to the best of their abilities. It’s also important that you give the full name of the contractor, their company, and if possible send a picture along of what the person looks like that is coming over to service the request or work order. This adds a professional and personal touch that you care about your tenants.
2. Response Time Is Key
If there’s one thing that matters to tenants more than anything else, it’s the amount of time it takes you to get back to them when they have an issue. One of the top tenant complaints about landlords is that they take too long to respond. It does not matter how busy you are, or how difficult the repair may be. The most important thing is to let them know right away that you are aware of the problem, and that you are on top of it. This will reassure them, calm them down, and feel like they can rely on you. This is the most important element of your relationship with your tenants. You want them to feel like they can rely on you. If they do not, they will always be looking for another place where they can feel more secure.
Of course, actually fixing the problem as quickly as you can is just as important. Spending days without a refrigerator or worse, with a leaky roof, can easily be the last straw for a reliable renter. If they pay their rent on time, you should do everything in your power to make sure you provide repairs on time.
Speedy resolutions are not just for problems that your tenants have told you about. Boston winter means frequent snow. Your tenants will often have to get up early after a snowstorm to go to work or school. Whether you hire a snow removal company in Boston or do the work yourself, having the driveway and walkways cleared for them by the time they leave the house will be something they really appreciate.
One thing that tenants really appreciate is having multiple phone numbers to call or text in the event of an emergency. Gone are the days of just calling an office line that is only open 10-6pm for property management. A great landlord or property manager provides multiple points of contact in the event of an emergency. While that may seem common sense; this is not the case for some landlords. Always include at least two phone numbers and preferably three phone numbers on their lease that a tenant can call at any time. If you go on vacation or have some kind of medical condition that will keep you away from communicating effectively, make sure you declare the times and dates you will not be available, and who will be your main point of contact for the property during your absence. At the end of the day, it’s the little things you do that add up to happy tenants.
3. Be Proactive about Maintenance
Waiting until things break to repair them is a terrible way to approach property management. Even if you get the problem fixed in a timely manner, the experience can be unpleasant to the tenant, and you are probably paying more for the repair than you should. Make sure that you perform seasonal maintenance on heating and cooling systems, gutters and landscaping. Perform regular inspections on the roof, plumbing, and other systems. Every time a tenant moves out, it’s imperative that you do a thorough inspection and make sure the property is up to code and ready to be lived in. Being proactive about maintenance in this manner will help you catch small, inexpensive problems before they become large, expensive repairs. It will also help give your tenants the impression of an orderly, well-maintained property, and show them that they can rely on you.
4. Embrace Technology
As more and more millennials enter the workforce, you will find that the needs of your tenants will begin to shift. Not many millennials own a checkbook, and many prefer rental arraignments where they can communicate with you and make payments from a computer or smart phone. It won’t be a bad idea to start to embrace this technology now, and develop systems now that will help you in the future. There are many web applications and prop-tech tools you can use to make it easier on your tenants to report issues, pay their rent, and schedule repairs. Want to start getting greater rent from your properties? Start thinking about security and convenience features that older or less maintained properties do not have. Heated driveways seems to be gaining significant popularity in the Greater Boston Area because the tenants do not have to worry about moving their car out onto the street so that plowing can occur in the driveway. Often times tenants have to shovel their car out, to get it out of the driveway, so that the plow truck can do it’s job and shape it into a proper location within the footprint of the property. Adding in Alexa enabled lights and security features is a huge hit now with tech savvy tenants.
5. Create a Sense of Community
For property managers and landlords that own a large number of units in a local area, this is something they can use was a tool to create comradely between tenants. Residents are much more likely to stay if they have relationships built with the neighborhood, so a smart landlord will do good to try to foster this kind of community mentality. Don’t be afraid to splurge for a monthly resident BBQ or even hire a food truck to come by to serve the residents. By your residents interacting and building relationships, your increasing your likelihood of them coming back when the lease it up.
Bottom line is a happy tenant equals a happy landlord. Ok, let me amend that…a happy good tenant means a happy landlord. By abiding by these 5 rules, any landlord can keep there tenants happy. Not only will you see higher higher tenant retention, they might also recommend your rental properties to friends and family. Doing everything you can to keep your tenants happy might not always be easy or convenient, but in the long run it will pay off.