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happy young couple opening door and welcoming friends in apartmentToday’s “Ask the Expert” column features Silvia Englert, General Manager for Tenant Screening.

Q: What can property managers do to keep their tenants happy?

A: With the rental market at its peak time of the year, property managers are busier than ever trying to find that “perfect” tenant to fill their vacancies. After the lease gets signed, property managers often think they’re done with the hard work; however, retaining good tenants can be more challenging than finding the perfect tenant.

Vacant rental units and the associated turnover costs are not costs you want to incur. In fact, it’s much more cost effective to hold on to your “perfect” tenant by keeping them satisfied.

Here are some important tips to keep your tenants happy:

Keep up with property maintenance and do regular inspections.
Nothing makes a tenant more unhappy than when maintenance on the property is not being performed and inspections are being neglected.

As a property manager, you’ll want to do regular inspections to make sure your rental is up to code, everything is in working order and your property has met all safety inspections.

You’ll also want to perform preventative maintenance to keep your rental in the best shape possible and avoid expensive repairs and unhappy tenants. When performing maintenance, consider using quality materials and appliances instead of just the basic ones. Tenants are more likely to pay a higher rent if they feel it’s a high-quality property that’s well maintained.

Make repairs promptly and take care of complaints in a timely manner.
Always address problems and complaints quickly, or let the tenant know you got the message and will take care of it soon. Tenants can become very impatient, frustrated and angry when you don’t respond in a timely manner.

When a tenant reports a repair, arrange a time to inspect the damage. If the repair is urgent (for example, if the heat isn’t working), schedule the repair immediately. If the problem isn’t an emergency, set up a convenient time to get the problem fixed.

Respect your tenant’s privacy.
If you need to access a tenant’s unit for one reason or another, give them plenty of advance notice. Tenants like their privacy, so respect it. Don’t think that because you own the property you can enter unannounced.

Several states have laws with regard to tenant privacy and require that you give a tenant proper notice before you enter. Most states require at least 24-hours notice.

Be professional and considerate.
Being a considerate landlord usually results in happy tenants. Make sure you remain professional and treat all of your tenants fairly and equally.

Whatever the problem, try to be compassionate when dealing with your tenants, especially the ones you want to keep. If you try to understand their point of view, they will remember that and will be more likely to renew their lease. If you are too strict, they might start looking for a new place.

Show your appreciation and keep the lines of communication open.
Let your tenants know you appreciate them. Offering small upgrades (new appliances or carpet) when tenants renew their lease can go a long way in keeping your tenants happy.

In addition, keeping the lines of communication open is key to keeping your tenants happy and showing them that you care. It’s a good idea to send out reminders about rules and regulations such as how a tenant can file a complaint, your maintenance responsibilities and rules with regard to weight limits for pets.

Be reasonable with rent increases.
Offering good tenants a rent that’s slightly below the current market rate can be beneficial as it might keep your tenant from moving, saving you thousands of dollars in turnover costs.

When you have “perfect” tenants, you want to do everything you can to keep them. Screening potential tenants is a great start, but after they move in, treat good tenants as you would want to be treated.

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