As cash flow is the most essential ingredient in any business, so it is as a landlord. Obviously, in order to maintain cash flow as a landlord, your properties must be occupied. There are several cost-effective ways to make you and your property very appealing to new tenants; and, infinitely more importantly, there are ways to retain the good tenants already living in your property, to avoid both the cost and uncertainty of vacancy or tenant turnover.
Imagine yourself in a tenant’s shoes, and provide the little perks you know they want, but no one else is offering. For example, practically every landlord I have ever spoken to has assured me that the walls would be repainted before move-in, but no one has asked what color scheme I would prefer. Allow your tenants to select the color scheme they want in their new home—it’s no additional work for the landlord or the painters, just a different bucket of paint. If the tenant can move into the home they want, with the scheme they want, without having to do the work or pay the expenses themselves, that may be enough to distinguish you from the other landlords.
That is just one example; there is an infinite number of little ways to excite a new tenant. Free cable, installed appliances, fans, fenced-in yards, etc. Clearly, each of these things costs the landlord money, but it cannot be overstated how much money you will save by keeping your property occupied at all times.
Once you acquire a good tenant, the real trick is to keep them forever. Spoil your tenants—make it so that if they go anywhere else, they will come running back to you. This doesn’t mean lavish them with expensive gifts, but be responsible.
Make repairs, follow-up, and provide little bonuses like a gift card when they resign the lease. Some landlords are going as far as offering long-term tenants with free high-speed internet and even a free computer! What’s $500 spent on a person who will bring you thousands? While not everyone has to take such an expensive approach to tenant maintenance, I think the concept is clear: don’t just sign your tenants up and then disappear. The cost of getting new tenants—between repairs, repainting, installing new carpet, and the loss of rental income during the period of vacancy—far outweighs the cost of keeping your current tenants happy. The most successful landlords are, quite simply, the ones chosen by their tenants. Keep your tenants happy, and you will be much better off.