Empty units are bittersweet. For starters, the possibility of new tenants could be exciting. They could be tenants who refer your property and continue to renew but depending on external factors like time of year, moving patterns, that unit could stay empty for a little too long. The longer a unit is vacant, the more money your multifamily property is losing out on.
42.1% of apartments were not renewed last year according to a US Multifamily Research Brief conducted by CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm. While that does mean there is a slight majority of those who renewed, the possibility of nearly 40% of your units staying vacant is pretty scary. So what can you do at your apartment communities to help increase resident retention?
This is the number one reason residents leave negative reviews on multifamily properties online. Personally as a renter, when a maintenance request is handled slowly with little communication and done improperly so you have to wait even longer for the problem to be fixed, I will be frustrated with the property and consider leaving too. As a renter there are some things you can’t really fix yourself and it’s frustrating when something in your apartment isn’t working right.
Handling maintenance requests quickly and keeping in communication with the resident about what is happening and the timeline of things should be how it’s done. This is a simple but crucial step to keeping residents satisfied and your online ratings high.
Know what renters in your region want and renters in general want (link to Field Guide). The most wanted and most important features to today’s renters are in-unit laundry, modern appliances, and walk-in closets according to PERQ data. This means that it’s time to start upgrading and renovating where you can.
Now renovating would mean the unit has to be vacant, but to keep your current residents happy, replacing their appliances with new, modern ones is a great place to start since you can’t exactly do much else to the unit while they are living in it. When building a new property, keep these features in mind as you design out the different floor plans.
Make sure your property is clean inside and outside. Stay up to date with landscaping, snow removal, vacuuming, wiping windows, taking out trash, etc. Clean common areas make a huge difference. You want residents to feel at home and you want them to recommend your property to others. No one wants to live in a dirty or messy building and they definitely won’t recommend it to their friends or family either.
Throwing events monthly is a great way to get to know residents better and encourage neighbors to get to know each other as well. Creating a community in your apartment property can be overlooked sometimes. From game nights to happy hour, there are lots of resident event ideas out there.Don’t forget about the furry residents either! Having events centered around pets is a great way to keep pet owners happy. After all, your property is home to their animals too.
Offer multiple lease length options. This one might seem a little weird, but offering residents the ability to pick a specific lease length does satisfy them. It gives them some control and they know that they won’t have to deal with their rent increasing if they choose longer leases. Some places only offer 12 months, or 9 months in college towns.
Where I live, we have the option of any month between 12 to 24 months. A lot of my neighbors and myself agree that the ability to pick how long our lease is was something that made the property we live at more appealing. It meant that we could lock in a price for longer and when we renew, well we can do the same again.
Increasing resident retention is key to keeping occupancy high and means less empty units that are losing money every day. Putting time and effort towards keeping residents happy will pay off in renewals, referrals, and positive reviews.