How to keep a tenant

Posted: 30th Aug 2016

Man and woman with papers at doorwayOne of the classic misconceptions is that, almost by the very nature of their relationship, tenants and landlords everywhere are permanently at daggers drawn.

Research cited by the website Evict a Tenant on the 26th June 2016 suggests that this is some way off the truth. It found that whilst 50% of landlords are happy with the tenants they have, a substantial 83% of tenants are content with their current landlord.

So, if the figures suggest that it is certainly possible for the majority of landlords and tenants to enjoy a harmonious relationship, what bigger efforts might be made by the remainder to reach that happy state of affairs. In a nutshell, therefore, how do you as a landlord manage to keep a tenant?

What tenants want

Perhaps the easiest way of answering the question of how to keep a tenant is simply to give them what they want. If a tenant believes that he or she is getting a fair deal and that the accommodation they are renting from you meets their essential needs and expectations, they are more likely to stay.

Retaining a happy and responsible tenant is in your own best interests as a landlord, or course, because that way you reduce the “voids” created by existing tenants leaving and new ones coming in – thus maintaining your rental income stream – quite apart from the general hassle and expense of having to advertise for and recruit new tenants.

So, what are some of the things tenants have said they want – and, by implication, what they don’t want?

Our own research

Research commissioned by us here at Cover4LetProperty in June 2016 discovered that of the 50% of tenants surveyed who had moved out of their rented accommodation in the previous five years:

  • 23% of them did so simply because they were moving out of the area;
  • a further 23% moved because of the level of rent they were being charged;
  • 19% had complaints about the poor condition of the accommodation they were renting;
  • 6% (only) said they moved because of being unable to get on with the landlord; and
  • a further 6% said they need roomier accommodation.

The business relationship

One thing the results help to point up is the fact that the relationship between tenant and landlord is essentially a business relationship. You provide the accommodation and the tenant is happy to pay a fair and reasonable rent for a home that is in good condition.

You are under no obligation to become friends with your tenants – but the key to the relationship seems to be a level-headed consideration of what the tenant considers to be a good deal.

Particular considerations

Our own findings mesh with the results of earlier studies about what tenants want and their reasons for moving:

  • thus the desire to find better quality accommodation and the need to relocate somewhere else to live and work rank highly on the main reason given by tenants for leaving;
  • location also seems to be a critical factor in tenants choosing one place to live – and deciding to stay there;
  • being close to work, university or college, therefore, is reported to have been critical for nearly a half of all tenants;
  • a closely related consideration is the location of the let property in relation to main transport links – 73% of tenants surveyed chose to live within less than 10 minutes of their nearest public transport;
  • although younger tenants expressed a preference for the flexibility of relatively short-term tenancies, those over the age of 35 favoured longer terms;
  • affordability has long been a concern of tenants – and is likely to become even more critical given the current housing crisis – with those in London and other cities spending just over a quarter of their income on rent.

Conclusions

Both our own and others’ survey results suggest that there are some ways of keeping a tenant that may be within your control.

You are more likely to retain tenants who consider the rent to be fair and reasonable, for example. Whatever the temptation to maximise your rental income, therefore, you might want to look more carefully at rent levels for similar properties in the same area and adjust your calculation of a fair rent. If it helps to retain reliable and responsible tenants for longer, of course, a slight reduction in the rent you are asking might pay for itself in no time at all.

The same thing might be said about the quality and standard of the accommodation you are offering. Of course this is taken seriously by your tenants. Those that see you are making a genuine effort to maintain or, still further, to improve the property, are more likely to stay.

On the other hand, there are factors which are likely to be beyond your control – except when you are choosing where exactly to invest in buy to let property. That is when you might want to consider the likely proximity to places of work or study and the location of the property in relation to transport routes, shopping facilities and open spaces.