What efforts are you making to retain your best Oakland tenants?
If you’re not doing anything strategic and just hoping for the best, you may be missing a huge opportunity to increase what you earn. Retaining good tenants needs to be part of your investment plan. Retention eliminates vacancy and turnover costs, leaving more money in your property. It means more stability for your portfolio as well.
There may be residents that you’d rather not keep in place. If you have tenants who are slow to pay rent, unwilling to help you maintain the home, and generally difficult to work with, you may be hoping they’ll leave at the end of the lease term. There’s no need to make an extra effort keeping those residents in place.
For the tenants who pay rent on time, take care of your property, and communicate openly while following the lease agreement expectations, you need to make an effort to retain them.
We have some of our best tenant retention strategies listed right here, based on our experience as Oakland property managers. Most of these tips can be implemented right now if you’re not doing them already.
Make the Leasing Process Easy and Efficient
Tenant retention begins before your tenants move in.
You can show your prospective residents that you’ll be a great landlord by remaining responsive and accessible while they’re trying to decide if they want to rent your property. When you receive phone calls and messages with inquiries about your rental, make sure you respond right away. Be helpful. Let them schedule showings at times that are convenient for them. Self-showing technology can really facilitate an easy process of seeing the home and completing an application. As long as you’re available to address any of their questions or concerns, most tenants prefer to see the home on their own time.
Work with tenants during the application and screening process so they know you’re proactive about getting them approved and moved in. Don’t make them wait to find out that they passed your screening; send an email or make a phone call as soon as you have gathered and analyzed all the data you need and verified all the information you have. You should immediately:
- Schedule a move in date
- Collect the security deposit
- Send a copy of the lease with the most important sections highlighted, including rent collection and maintenance reporting policies.
- Answer any questions they have before they sign the lease.
The only thing left is to work with them throughout the move-in inspection to ensure that you’re all on the same page about the condition of the property.
When Oakland tenants move into a home easily and efficiently, and that home is in excellent condition and perfectly clean on day one, you’re setting a great foundation for your tenant retention plans.
Communicate Transparently with Oakland Tenants
Tenants should not have to guess at what you expect from them. Before they move in, discuss the lease agreement and their responsibilities.
Throughout the tenancy, you’ll need to communicate about things like maintenance, pest control, rental payments, and any questions they may have while living in your property.
Good relationships require good communication, and if you’re hoping to retain your tenants, you need to make yourself open and transparent when it comes to communicating. Be available by phone, text, email, and even social media. Tenants have different comfort levels, and you’ll need to understand what your tenants need when it comes to communication.
Invest in technology, but keep communication personal.
After a couple years of contactless business functions, face-to-face communication may never return to what it once was. Tenants and owners alike have embraced the idea that just about everything can be done virtually, from showings to rental payments to maintenance requests. You can provide personal attention even if you’re not delivering your communication in person.
Maintenance Impacts Tenant Retention
Maintenance may not be your favorite part of owning rental property. It’s expensive. It’s frustrating. Repairs are not always expected. But, it’s important in retaining tenants and in protecting the condition and value of your asset.
Well-maintained properties will do a fantastic job of retaining good tenants, so it’s important to respond to routine repair requests quickly. If you’re slow to respond or you ignore the requests altogether, your tenants are likely to leave at the end of the lease term.
Make maintenance a priority, and respond to repair needs with a sense of urgency.
Tenant communication has a role to play when we’re talking about maintenance, too. You want your tenants to understand what qualifies as an emergency maintenance need, and how reporting that will be different from how they report a routine request. Maybe you want a phone call as soon as it is safe when there’s a pipe that’s leaking or a fire that’s started. But, for a routine dishwasher fix or a toilet that’s flushing funny, a written maintenance request is a better way to stay organized and document everything.
Communicate your maintenance procedures, and then be responsive. It will help you keep your tenants when they know that their repair requests are being heard.
Even if you can’t fix something right away, let your tenants know where things stand and what you plan to do about the problem moving forward. When something needs to be repaired or replaced, over-communicating with your tenant is usually the best way to go. They don’t want to think that you have forgotten about the repair or that it’s not a priority for you.
Beyond Maintenance: Oakland Rental Property Improvements
There’s maintenance and then there are renovations.
Maintenance and repairs are required. Improvements and updates are not generally required, but making them will improve your property and your tenant relationship. You can expect higher rental values when you update your property. You can expect that your tenants will be grateful as well, and more likely to renew their lease agreement.
The best tenants in Oakland want to live in a home that’s attractive and comfortable. Some of the cost-effective upgrades you can make to attract and retain them include:
- Replacing out-of-date appliances and installing energy=efficient models.
- Painting walls that have become faded or chipped.
- Cleaning or replacing carpet.
- Updating the landscaping
Updates like these will help you motivate tenants to renew their lease agreements. You can offer a new washer or a freshly painted bedroom. Maybe your tenants want a backsplash in the kitchen or better lighting outside. Be willing to negotiate these terms during the renewal process. It’s good for tenant retention and ultimately, it’s good for your property.
Technology upgrades are also popular among tenants these days. Maybe they’ve asked about installing a video doorbell or they’re interested in smart home features that allow them to sync their own technology with things like the thermostat, the coffee maker, and the lights.
If you’re willing to work with them and continually update your property to make it attractive and competitive, you’re going to have an easier time keeping your tenants.
Both repairs and regular improvements will reduce tenant turnover and even increase the amount you are able to charge in rent. When your residents get a sense that you’re willing to improve the property and make it better for them, they’ll want to stay.
Providing a Positive Rental Experience
What tenants really want is a positive, stress-free rental experience. When you can provide them with that, you can expect to retain them.
Provide resources and keep in touch without being overbearing. Tenants are looking for privacy, and you don’t need to be over-friendly. But, when you can provide resources, pass on some interesting information, or express gratitude for an on-time rental payment or help coordinating maintenance, you should get in touch.
Simple things can go a long way. Consider sending birthday cards or sweets at holiday time. Provide a welcome gift when they move in. A reward system helps with retention, too. If rent is paid on time six months in a row, consider sending them a gift card for a local coffee shop. It’s the opposite of a late fee; they’re getting positive reinforcement and they’ll remember that you appreciate them.
Make Reasonable and Market-Driven Rental Increases
You will likely raise the rent on your Oakland property at renewal time, within the limits of rent control laws if they apply to you.
Don’t be afraid to increase the rent when you’re working on tenant retention. Most tenants expect that their rent will increase. Just make sure it’s not too far out of bounds. A smaller rental increase is worth it when you can be sure you’ll keep your tenants.
Study the Oakland rental market and look at homes that are similar to your rental. Chances are, you’ll be able to raise your own rent while still staying at or just below the market prices. This will encourage tenants to stay because even though their rent is going up, they don’t have to worry about the expense and hassle of moving into a new place that probably will cost just as much.
These are a few of our best tenant retention strategies, and we’d be happy to tell you more about what we do to keep good Oakland tenants in place. Please contact us at California Pacific Realty to hear more.