The 5 Essentials of Turning Good Tenants into Long-Term Tenants

Finding good tenants and getting them into a property is something any good property manager studies. The process becomes fixed, obsessive at times and it’s going on year-round in bigger management offices.

Funny enough, it would be a lot less necessary if the good tenants are treated just a little better, and the bad ones let go just a little sooner. These five essential practices are intended to keep you from continually needing to search for new, good, stable and responsible tenants. Keep them in mind after leases are signed, and you’ll be signing far fewer leases.

1) Educate Regularly

Not continually, and not intensively. But lots of tenants don’t get the rules from their lease or from anything else. Good tenants are interested in maintaining a good place to live and a good relationship with you and other tenants. It’s your job to educate them about the policies, the procedures, the reasons for some of the restrictions, inspections, maintenance visits and how they can and should help. Finding out who’s cooperative (and who’s not) is on your agenda too. Keep up with it.

2) Property Management is 90% Customer Service

Keep up with repair requests. Diligence, attentiveness and some small favors go a long way toward keeping tenants happy. Follow up on contractors who come in – with your tenants. Make sure they’re satisfied with all the service. The occasional check-in call is important, too. Good tenants will report what they need, but not if they don’t know yet how available you, your office or your staff are. Let them know and be human about all of it. Reasonableness is another essential. A month or so after they’ve moved in is a good time to remind new tenants about any scheduled maintenance or similar routine visits.

3) Reward Longer Leases & Referrals

If you can do 18 or 24-months, let your tenants know there’s something in it for them. Discounted rents, or limited increases are one reward. Probably a little more common are carpet cleanings, ceiling fans or discount coupons from favored contractors or service agencies. But be sure too, that tenants want to stay longer or to have some say in who they’re neighbors are.

4) Understand Exceptions

Exceptions aren’t for everyone. But with good tenants, you should be prepared to forgive or relax. That can mean, after a year of no late payments, waiving a late fee for one late payment. It can mean forgoing a rent increase. But you have to retain the option to be flexible and to be a little more open.

5) Existing Tenants Are Better than New Tenants

Lastly, why is this one last? Red carpets and movie tickets and printed address labels are great for new tenants. Sparkling wine may be going too far, but all these things are just as good – or better – for the people who’ve been with you the longest. Don’t leave them out. If you really are struggling to find the new people, ask the existing, and share the very same incentives with them when you do.

If you’ve had an exceptionally good experience with long term tenants, we’d like to hear about it at