The Ultimate Guide to Tenant Retention

Table of Contents

Do you want to learn how you can succeed in the competitive rental market in Maryland and Virginia? If you want to go from surviving to thriving, you have to think about certain strategies. 

It doesn’t matter if you know someone with dozens of successful rental properties or just one or two. There’s something that they all have in common. 

Successful landlords are able to keep tenants in their properties. Tenant retention is absolutely crucial for anyone that’s renting property. If you want to handle property management the right way, it’s time to come up with your own tenant retention plan.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a real estate expert to know how to keep your tenants as repeat renters. We’re going to help you create a retention strategy on your own. Read on to learn why tenant retention matters and what steps you can take to make your own strategy. 

3 Reasons Why Tenant Retention Matters

When it seems like there’s an endless amount of people looking for places to rent, retention may not seem like that big of a deal to some landlords. After all, if you can easily find someone else to move in why fight so hard to keep what you have?

The truth is that retaining tenants is something that nearly every successful property owner has in common. If you want to succeed in the rental world you’ll focus on keeping the tenants you already have.

Curious about why we think retention is so important? After we give you some reasons why your stance on the matter will completely change. 

1. Vacancy Hurts Landlords

high vacancy rate can cause a lot of problems for you. Property owners that have a vacant property may have to go a month or two without rent. That’s a serious dent in your cash flow and could make it more difficult to pay the mortgage if the rental isn’t paid off.

It’s also important to keep in mind that you may have to make some changes to attract new renters. Aside from having to deep clean your property, you may find yourself investing in new appliances, paint, and carpet. 

Don’t forget about negotiating with actual tenants. If you’re in an area with a lot of other rentals, renters have more options. You may have to lower your rent to stay competitive or make other concessions. 

It would be much easier for most property owners to keep the renters they have. This is why it’s important to think about how you can keep current renters happy and in your property. 

2. Good Renters Are Always Worth It 

A lot of people like to joke about dealing with difficult landlords. It’s rare to hear stories about difficult tenants, but it only takes one truly bad tenant to sour people on renting out property.

Every property owner should keep in mind that finding a new tenant doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve found a good one. Someone with a good reference that passes a background check and provides proof of income may not be the best person to live in your property.

You could end up with a tenant that always pays their rent later or constantly comes up short. They may make changes to the property you don’t authorize or could even have unauthorized pets or even roommates. 

A bad tenant doesn’t necessarily have to be someone that constantly breaks the rules either. Renting to someone that doesn’t care about maintaining the property or doesn’t alert you about serious problems isn’t someone you want there in the long term. 

If you have a good relationship with your current renters you’re going to want to keep them around as long as possible. Focus on finding ways to keep them happy. 

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3. Your Reputation Follows You 

A renter leaving every now and then isn’t strange. There are plenty of valid reasons why a tenant may choose to move that have nothing to do with you. The problem occurs when you keep losing tenants and struggle to keep new ones for long. 

Could you stand to be a little more attentive when you’re dealing with maintenance issues? Have tenants complained about the state of the home and the quality of the appliances? Can you remember a few times you may have argued with a renter? 

If people have bad experiences with you or your home others will find out. A landlord with a bad reputation will have a lot of trouble finding renters. In some extreme cases, they may even have to consider renting at a lower rate to attract new renters. 

This is another big reason why keeping renters happy is important. If it becomes a reoccurring problem you’ll have more issues keeping your rental profitable. 

realtor giving tenant retention tips

Our Must-Follow Tips For Tenant Retention

A solid tenant retention plan is going to involve a mix of proactive strategies along with gathering information from your current tenants. We’re going to help you implement the right practices and ask the right questions to create a plan other landlords would be envious of. 

If you’re ready to start taking renter retention seriously, consider following these important tips. 

Understand the Local Market 

Knowing the competition is absolutely critical to understanding how to keep your tenants happy. Take some time to research some of the other rentals in the immediate area so you can understand how you compare.

Don’t make the mistake of just focusing on prices. If you don’t understand the rationale behind the prices the numbers won’t be able to do you any good.

Learn about the amenities some properties offer. Look at listings and see if they offer things like wi-fi, new appliances, or garages to have a better understanding of how units are priced. 

Once you’ve done your research, figure out the average cost of properties around you so you can see how you compare. You don’t have to have the exact same price as other rental properties around you. However, if you’re considerably more expensive than other nearby properties there should be a reason why. 

Understand Your Renters

If someone were to ask you where your tenant works, would you be able to answer? Do you know what their children’s and pet’s names are? Could you name a hobby of theirs? 

We’re not saying that you have to become best friends with your renters. In fact, some people feel strongly about renting to friends. However, knowing a few things about your renters can benefit both of you in the future.

Remembering some important information about your renters can show them that you care about them. That can make your relationship a little more friendly and may make them trust you more. They may not have an issue telling you that they’re having job trouble or that they’re concerned about something they’ve noticed in the house. 

Don’t think that you have to remember all of these things on your own. Plenty of landlords keep basic files on the people they rent to so they’ll always know important information. If you don’t have this already, now is the perfect time to create it!

Think About Your Ideal Renter

Sometimes the best way to retain tenants is to find ones that already fit well into your property. Have you ever taken the time to think about the qualities you’d want to see in your next renter?

Having a renter that always pays on-time can be nice, but that doesn’t mean that they’re your ideal renter. If you want to know how to keep your tenants, you should think about what makes you want to keep them as tenants in the first place. 

Aside from on-time payments, what traits do you think are the best to look for in potential renters? 

Some people may prefer to avoid renters with young children or pets. Other landlords may want someone that can take care of themselves and won’t need to call them for a leaky faucet or an off-balance washing machine. 

When you take the time to think about your ideal renter you can do more to try to find them during the renter search. Be sure to ask pointed questions about the traits that matter to you the most to see if they can fit your criteria. 

Strategize Rent Changes

Incremental rent increases are important for success in the rental market. This helps you stay competitive in your local market and set expectations with your renters. 

Don’t make the mistake of randomly raising your rent. Take time to do it each year and to determine a pricing ceiling to ensure that you don’t surprise your renters. 

Keeping rent raises on a regular schedule helps ensure that renters will be prepared each time it happens. It also helps reassure them that you won’t decide to drastically raise the price.

Don’t forget to give your tenants options when you’re renewing rent. People that want a month to month lease may be willing to enjoy the privilege by paying extra rent. People that sign into two-year contracts may be able to pay a lower rate since you know they won’t end their lease early.  

Property manager talking to tenants

Ask What Renters Want

Sometimes the simplest way to get what you want is to just ask. If you want to know what will keep your renters on the track to renewal, consider asking them what matters to them the most when they chose rentals. 

Set up a simple survey to send to your renters so you can find out what motivates them. Be sure to ask about things like certain amenities and pricing brackets matter the most to them.

Don’t be afraid to ask about what made them choose the area and property to begin with. This can give you invaluable insight into what makes your property appealing to others. 

Be on Your Best Behavior 

If you can’t say that you’re bringing your A-game when you’re managing property you can’t be surprised if tenants start to leave. Go the extra mile when you’re dealing with tenants to keep them coming back for me.

Respond to maintenance requests quickly and make sure that problems are truly fixed before you move on. Talk to renters about any questions they may have about rules or rental increases. Sometimes just showing that you care is enough to keep them happy. 

Also, be sure to respect their privacy. Don’t drop in to do repairs or to discuss important issues. Always give them plenty of time to expect you and don’t head over until you’ve heard from them.

Beware of Bad Renters 

Have you gotten a few complaints about noisy or dirty renters on your property? Has a renter that’s usually known for paying on time been falling behind on payments?

Either way you look at it, bad renters can cost you money. If they miss their rent you won’t be able to pay your bills. Also, if they continue to behave badly, some of your good tenants may end up leaving. 

This is why it’s important for landlords to stay up to date on what’s going on with their properties and their rentals. If you let a problem go on for too long it gets harder to solve. 

Do your part to document late payments and inappropriate behavior. Also, make it very clear that you won’t tolerate certain things from renters in the lease they sign. Doing all of this makes it much easier for you to make a case for eviction. 

Become the Ultimate Landlord 

Having a solid tenant retention strategy can set you on the right path to becoming a great landlord, but it isn’t the only thing you can do. The truth is that there are plenty of things you can do to become a stellar landlord. 

Do you have a great place to list your vacant properties? Have you thought about using a property management company to handle day to day tasks? Do you want advice from an expert? Regardless of what you need, we’re here to help. Be sure to get in touch with us today so we can think about the best way to give you what you need to succeed. 

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.