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Simple and Fun Ways Landlords Can Treat Their Tenants Well

Dog staring at a sign that says Dogs WelcomeThe primary objective for owning rental real estate is to make money. Landlords can facilitate meeting this objective by running their property like a business and treating their tenants well. A happy tenant is one more likely to stick around for the long term.

There are many money related issues with being a landlord. The most expensive and time consuming period, other than the initial purchase and renovation, is the turnaround phase after a tenant leaves. Repairs, cleaning, advertising, interviews, and background checks all need to be accomplished before a new tenant can move in. The fewer number of times a landlord devotes to those tasks the better.

With that in mind, here are some things I’m doing to help my tenants enjoy their stay.

Response Times

Nothing irritates a tenant more than a landlord who doesn’t respond to requests for service. There is simply no reason to ignore the maintenance and repair needs of a tenant. Yet that is the attitude many landlords have. They drag their feet on repairs because they are cheap, lazy and don’t view the need as a priority.

I’ve developed a system to respond to tenant phone calls or emails for maintenance within 24 hours. If the message sounds urgent, I respond immediately. Ignoring a tenant without the basics of water or heating and cooling could lead to legal action against the landlord.

The goodwill a landlord will build with the tenant by doing this one simple thing cannot be overstated. It’s probably the biggest tactic a landlord can use to keep tenants long term.

Discounts for Longer Rental Terms

In our rental property business, we offer three main rental terms of varying lengths for the tenant to choose from – 6 months, 1 year and 2 year. Any shorter than 6 months and turnover happens to quickly. Any longer than two years and rent can’t be raised consistently enough.

Each of these terms represent a different pricing structure, with the shortest being the most expensive. Most don’t choose that option, signing up instead for the 1-year term. However, we’ve had several tenants choose the 2-year term to gain the reduction in monthly rent that is charged. It makes sense if they see themselves staying put for at least that duration of time.

And the benefit to me is that I have someone locked in for two years. That reduces turnover costs and the time associated with finding new tenants.

Be Respectful of Emergencies

Life happens to all of us. The next emergency situation is right around the corner. Tenants are no different. So when a big emergency comes up in their lives be respectful of it.

I recently had a tenant who had to deal with a $1,000+ car repair. This was going to keep her from paying the monthly rent on time. She communicated with me about her need, I told her she could pay a couple weeks late and that was the end of it. She followed through and paid when we had agreed.

I didn’t completely let her off the hook as she still had to pay late fees but I wasn’t hard-lined either and start eviction procedures because she was a couple of weeks late. A landlord has to develop a balance in that area and be understanding of what is happening in their tenant’s lives. There is no need to be a jerk when someone is going through a life trauma.

Other Little Deals That Are a Big Deal

A few other things I am doing in our business to treat our tenants well include:

Allowing them to have pets. We charge an extra monthly fee per pet for this because we will have to clean the property once they move.

Supplying them with extras. Consider purchasing items for the property to entice a prospective tenant to sign up. We’ve purchased washers and dryers before and then charged the tenant a monthly fee for the use of that appliance. The same could be done with things like lawnmowers, microwaves, or other upgrade requests like the installation of ceiling fans.

Letting them decorate within reason. There should be no reason why tenants can’t hang pictures on the wall. I’ve even let tenants pick a new paint color for the walls, provided I or a professional could do the painting.

Giving them special gifts. Tenants love gifts! I always provide a “Welcome to Your New Home” gift basket that is ready for the tenants as they move in. A birthday or the yearly anniversary of living in the property are also special times to give a gift card as a way of saying “Thank You” for sticking to their agreement.

These simple things done by the landlord can go a long way in promoting some goodwill with the tenant. It may cost a little money but the long-term rewards of tenant happiness and longevity are definitely worth it.

What other tips do you have for treating tenants well? What’s the coolest thing a landlord has ever done for you?

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Miles

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  1. Thanks for a great list. I really like the cost effective suggestions for a small welcome gift and an annual card thanking them for being your tenant. I think I’m going to implement those in my rentals.

    • The card and gift is a nice touch. I enjoy seeing them feel appreciative for that. It’s worth the little amount of cost to build up that good feeling in the tenant.

  2. Natalie @ Financegirl says

    Such a great list! And I think this will bring you excellent karma! If I’m ever a landlord, I will be revisiting this post for sure. Nice work.

    • Thanks Natalie! The only thing I’m really looking for in return is a tenant who honors the agreement and treats my property well. That’s has happened for the most part.

  3. I still remember how sweet my previous landlord was to me and my roommates. He didn’t worry too much if the rent was a day or two late, and sometimes he’d leave us some fresh fruit picked from his farm for us! He was also very timely when it came to addressing some concerns we had throughout our lease.

  4. We don’t own any rental properties but if we did, I hope I would be the kind of landlord you are, Brian. It is important to treat your tenants well and it helps them return the favor by good tenants and sticking around. I love that you give new tenants welcome baskets and gift certificates. Those are the kind of things that really make a difference.

    • “…helps them return the favor by good tenants…” That’s the idea Shannon. Treat others the way you would want to be treated and they will more than likely return the favor. It’s not a full-proof method (I’ve had to evict one tenant) but it works most of the time.

  5. Interesting, I never thought of giving my tenants options on the term of the lease. All of my tenants always end up staying for multiple years, but I never thought of initially pricing the lease based on how long they were willing to commit.

    • I’m just looking to give people options that might meet their needs. My real goal is to funnel them into the two year lease if possible. I really like how that provides me some tenant security.

  6. Bre @ The Weight of Debt says

    I love this so much! I don’t have any rental property but you sure do make me want to be your tenant!

  7. As a long time renter I always appreciate responsiveness. A quick turn around on issues is also a biggie. I’ve had an issue with my shower curtain for over six months now and I’m really getting over asking my landlord and super about it.

  8. I’ve never had a cool landlord! My last one was a long time ago, but she was not very nice. I love the annual gift idea. We are pretty new to the game, but will keep that in mind for the future.

    • It’s so simply to give a small gift. I’m talking something like $25 gift card to a grocery store or Walmart. It just produces so much goodwill I think it’s worth it.

  9. Done by Forty says

    Such good advice! We’re just starting out and I’m bookmarking this so we can hopefully jump up the learning curve quickly.

  10. Man you sound like a great landlord! I’ve never had a welcome gift from a landlord. My current one is OK. He does respond to most things, but when it came to having massive amounts of ants last year, I ended up having to spend loads of money on traps, sprays, etc because he said he wasn’t going to do it. I try not to rock the boat, after all I’m actually paying $50 less, plus not having to pay for gas which I used to have to pay for, and the rent has never been raised in the entire six years I’ve lived here. So I think we sort of strike a balance. There are many upgrades I would LOVE though. The paint is peeling in the bathroom is looks ugly. Would you consider this a reasonable request?

    • Pest control should be written into the contract. We spray for termites but our tenants are responsible for any other pest control. That’s all known up front. That being said, I’d help anyway if it was a huge problem.

  11. While living in Chicago we rented our condo from a really
    nice guy. He had season tickets to the Cubs and would occasionally send us a
    pair of tickets. It was awesome. So that would be another suggestion for how to
    be an awesome landlord!

  12. “We charge an extra monthly fee per pet for this because we will have to clean the property once they move.”
    Don’t you clean the property anyways?

    • Yes, but there will be more to do to clean up pet smells/odors. At the minimum it will require a professional cleaning of carpets, which would be something you might get away with doing between tenants if it was for a short duration and they had been extremely neat. I should have explained that in more detail.

  13. Revolutionary! Based upon my own past experiences as a tenant, I would have thought that the golden rule for landlords was “get more gold.”

  14. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    I wish more landlords were like you Brian! 🙂 We had some doozies when we were renting, from one we had to take to court over not paying back our deposit fee to one that did nothing about a roach infestation we had thanks to some horrible neighbors. But, we did have one that let us pay three weeks late (we were newly married and had lost my job) and one that spent all sorts of money to get our A/C fixed in the middle of the summer while it costing him thousands out of his pocket.

    • I like those last two versions better than the first two. It’s important for anyone choosing to become a landlord to have an emergency fund for the business. People don’t take into consideration the cost of repairs. Some can be quite pricey as we’ve found out.

  15. FI Pilgrim says

    I wish more landlords operated like you do, Brian. The prospect of renting would be way more attractive!

    • Where landlords get into trouble is only focusing on the money…in getting every last dollar out of a tenant. While making money is the goal, how much will it really hurt my business if I make $100 less because I bought all my tenants anniversary gifts? Not much in the long run.

  16. Holly Johnson says

    I don’t give our tenants gifts (I’m not that nice!), but I haven’t raised rents forever. One of our tenants has been there for 3.5 years and the other has been there for 5 years. It is insanely convenient for me when people stay that long as I don’t want to give them any reason to leave. That’s especially true with one of our tenant families who are extremely clean and even fertilize and edge the lawn.

  17. These are great, Brian! I wish all landlords would agree. We were told several times we would get a welcome basket (from a welcome committee), and never did. I’m nervous about hanging anything on the walls as our lease states small nails only. I think it’s a bit different when you’re renting from an individual, though. I think that’s what we’ll try to do next time.

    • That’s really disappointing EM…to be told to expect something and never receive it. It would have been better for them to not have said anything at all and then surprised you with something. It’s all about exceeding a customer’s expectation.

  18. When I rented, I never got a tenant gift, but that would have been amazing!! I was allowed to paint and decorate within reason, and I always loved when I could do that. It always seemed to make a big difference.

  19. I think response time is the most important thing. A landlord who does things in a timely fashion, versus one who take forever to respond, makes a big difference. We haven’t had great landlords in the past, but now that we have a renter in our basement we do what we can to be good landlords. A welcome basket is a great gesture and we do that as well.

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