How to encourage your tenants to stay longer
The most expensive times for a landlord are when your property is empty, on the market and seeking tenants. You have Council Tax and utilities standing charges to pay, possibly mortgage repayments, and no rent whatsoever coming in. So how do you retain your tenants when you get them and encourage them to stay?
It’s pretty much about having the right mind-set.
Treat your letting enterprise as a business and take a business-like approach. Think of your tenants as allies in your letting business. They’re the ones financing your mortgage repayments after all. See them as individuals who’ve chosen your property over others, not just needy folks glad to have a roof over their heads. Tell them at the outset that you're a business-like landlord who wants the property to work for them. Encourage them to communicate any faults or repair needs to you so that you can have them dealt with, and explain that you’ll arrange to look in by appointment every few months to check that all is well with the property.
Consider becoming accredited through the excellent Landlord Accreditation Scotland. Telling your tenants you're an accredited landlord will assure them that you understand what you need to do as a good responsible landlord.
Maintain a professional distance from your tenants. Be open and approachable, but don’t try to become friends by socialising, meeting up for a drink or similar. Similarly, don’t volunteer your views on politics or other potentially contentious issues.
Consider welcoming them by leaving a bottle of wine or a decent bunch of flowers, or even both, when they move in. This shows you’re pleased they’ve chosen to rent from you. (Don’t get the flowers at the petrol station, as our director John once did when a callow youth. He learnt that lesson the hard way)
Attend to repairs quickly - not grudgingly because they’ll cost money, but positively because they’ll maintain the valuable of your asset and a quick response will build good-faith with your tenants. You want them to stay, don’t you?
Don’t leave clutter and personal belongings behind in cupboards and drawers. This conveys the message, “This is my home and I’m letting you stay in it.” The unspoken inference is, “I’ll be back at some point”. There are few things likely to make tenants feel less at home.
Don’t visit unannounced. Your tenants are entitled to peaceful enjoyment.
Except in real emergency when timely action is essential, don’t ever enter the property without your tenants’ consent. That’s unlawful and is also a guaranteed way to really upset your tenants. Would you like someone prowling around your house without consent while you’re out?
Provide good quality furnishings (if furnished) and fittings. There’s nothing worse than an oddball assortment of tables and chairs which look like they’ve been picked up at a second-hand shop and some cheap and not particularly cheerful dressing tables and wardrobes. Provide furniture you'd be happy to use yourself. Invest in imaginative attractive light fittings which will create a welcoming homely feel to the place. That is money well spent because it will lend your property that essential attribute - desirability.
If your tenants want to decorate, let them. If they can help mould the aura of the property and invest time and money in doing so, they’re much more likely to stay longer. It’s not unreasonable to require them to use colours agreeable to you or, if they’re keen on a strongly individualistic colour scheme, to require them to restore the status quo as they eventually leave.
Consider allowing pets. Tenants with pets are likely to stay longer with you because so few landlords will allow them, and choice is therefore limited.
We hope you'll find these tips helpful. Check out our blog archive for more.