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Resident Retention: 6 Strategies to Maintain 100% Occupancy in Your Property

Dominique Swanson

By Dominique Swanson

Jun 25, 2024


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Hitting and retaining a 100% occupancy rate is the holy grail for property managers and landlords. A high turnover rate comes with a high cost in addition to being time consuming, so implementing effective resident retention strategies is crucial. Full occupancy may seem like a goal too far out of reach for many managers, but it doesn’t have to be. By using these key strategies, you will be well on your way to filling your property (and keeping it that way.)

1. Exceptional Customer Service 

Property management falls under the umbrella of customer service, but the wants, needs, and desires of your customer are vastly different than that of a retail store or a restaurant. Your customers are your renters, and their expectations from the management staff go beyond a kind demeanor during a quick interaction. It doesn’t matter if your rental property has all the bells and whistles of an amazing place to live. If you have poor customer service, you will always struggle to keep your apartments filled.

Below are two non-negotiables for great customer service in property management:

Communication

One of the biggest complaints about property owners who fail to retain residents is “poor communication.” Good communication doesn’t end at reaching out to your residents often. You also need to be transparent, providing accurate information about building news or changes,  and you need to respond quickly when contacted. Fast responses that very clearly answer a question or provide information demonstrate that you value your residents’ comfort. Avoid over-explaining or beating around the bush when it comes to addressing a resident complaint or need.

Professionalism

Residents should feel respected and valued in every communication. Ensure that all interactions, whether in person, over the phone, or email, are professional and courteous. Greet people kindly when they enter the office, use professional language, dress appropriately, and always double check written communication for spelling and grammatical errors.

2. Maintenance and Upgrades

People talk — and a disgruntled tenant with complaints about lack of maintenance can make big waves in the apartment community. How quickly you resolve a maintenance issue and the general upkeep of your property are vital to preventing resident turnover. Always aim for non-emergency maintenance requests to be resolved in two business days, and for emergencies to be addressed immediately. That includes having an after-hours phone number to call for leaks, locks outs, and other urgent issues that can occur once your management office is closed.

Preventive Maintenance

Regular inspections and preventive property maintenance can help stop small issues from becoming significant problems. Schedule regular checks for plumbing, HVAC systems, and other critical areas to ensure everything is functioning correctly; otherwise, your tenants may want to move out sooner rather than later.

Upgrades and Modernization

Show residents where their rent payments are going! Invest in periodic upgrades and modernization of units and common areas. Updated appliances, fresh paint, modern amenities, and landscaping can make a substantial difference in how a long-term resident views their home — and increase the value of your property significantly.

3. Community Building

The third piece to retaining residents is turning your property into a true community. When an apartment becomes a home, then the residents begin to take pride in their community. This is especially true when they have a good rapport with the staff.

Social Events

Inviting residents to spend time with each other and with management team while participating in fun social activities is a great way to begin to build a relationship and sense of community. The opportunities for community events are endless. From pool parties to trivia nights, there are so many ways you can foster great relationships and create a community people truly want to live in.

High-Quality Amenities

Invest in high-quality amenities that meet the needs and preferences of your residents. Fitness centers, swimming pools, study lounges, and pet-friendly facilities can significantly enhance your residents' living experience.

Convenience Services

Provide additional services such as package-delivery management, laundry services, or concierge services to make living with you the most convenient option, thus increasing tenant retention.

Communication Platforms

Use communication platforms like community newsletters, social media groups, or dedicated apps to keep residents informed about upcoming events, maintenance schedules, and other important information. Encourage residents to post on these platforms so they can get to know their neighbors as well.

4. Incentive Programs

Once you’re certain your current residents love living at your property, try throwing in an irresistible move-in special. Residents will be sure to refer their friends to your building, and you will have your apartments filled in no time. 

Below are just a few options:

Renewal Incentives

Moving sucks, but sometimes, the perks of leaving outweigh the benefits of staying. To overcome that, offer incentives for lease renewals, such as discounted rent, or waived fees to encourage residents to sign onto another lease. Signing bonuses are a great way to make your residents feel appreciated.

Referral Programs

Implement referral programs where current residents can receive bonuses or discounts for referring new tenants. This not only helps with attracting new residents but also incentivizes current ones to stay.

5. Feedback Mechanisms

The best way to know what your residents are looking for in their home is to ask them. Whether that’s via an online poll or when you see them in the office, getting their feedback is critical to meeting their expectations.

Regular Surveys

Monthly resident surveys are a great tool to gather feedback. Understanding their needs and concerns allows you to make informed improvements, which shows residents that their opinions matter to your management company.

Open-Door Policy

Maintain an open-door policy where residents feel comfortable approaching management with their issues or suggestions. Being approachable and receptive to feedback fosters a positive relationship. Remember, a resident complaint is not an attack on you, but an opportunity for you to improve your property and, therefore, the resident experience.

6. Competitive Pricing

How you price your vacancies plays a large role in your ability to sign leases. If residents do not realize the value in your property for what they pay, then it will be nearly impossible to hit 100% occupancy.

Market Analysis

Be aware of market pricing to ensure your rent is competitive yet fair. Overpricing can drive residents away, while underpricing might not sustain the property's maintenance needs.

Value for Money

Ensure that the services and amenities provided are perceived as good value for the rent charged. If residents are paying a high rental rate, but the fitness center is broken down, the pool is never open, and their apartment’s maintenance is neglected, then they may feel they are being overcharged, and will opt out of signing with you again.

The Bottom Line

Achieving and maintaining 100% occupancy requires a multifaceted approach that prioritizes resident satisfaction, proactive management, and community building. By implementing these six strategies, you can create an environment where residents are happy to stay. Investing in improving your resident retention rate is not just about keeping units filled; it's about fostering a community that feels at home.

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