Tips for Filling Vacancies
Renters Warehouse Blog
As a landlord, vacancies can be frustrating. Especially if you find that they’re an all-too-frequent, recurring issue. Vacancies not only translate into lost profit, but they can also present a tremendous hassle for landlords, not to mention additional risk. If your rental unit is left empty for too long, it can become a magnet for problems such as vandalism and theft. Unattended properties are more at risk of undetected damage as well.
While vacancies are a fact of life for almost every landlord, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. There’s a lot that you can do to help reduce your tenant turnover rates, encouraging your current occupants to stay put longer. When tenants do leave, there are a number of tactics that you can employ that’ll help your property to rent faster. There’s no need to stress, or feel tempted to compromise on the application and screening process just to fill a vacancy.
If you’d like to reduce your vacancy rates and help your property to rent faster, here’s a look at some tips that can help.
Rent Your Property Faster
Ideally, your tenants will be giving you 30 days’ notice before they move out, although of course, this doesn’t always happen. Instead of waiting until the last minute to start marketing the property, consider starting as soon as you learn that the property will be vacated. Working quickly means that you’ll be able to find a tenant sooner rather than later, helping to minimize downtime in between occupants.
Make the Most of Your Showings
Of course, the strategy of showing the property while a tenant is still living there is only effective if you have an understanding tenant who’s willing to cooperate. Showing a house in addition to trying to pack and move can add stress to someone who may already be feeling overwhelmed due to the move, so make sure you discuss the prospect of showing the property with them first. Your tenant is still the legal occupant of the property and as such, they are within their rights to refuse to allow people in while they’re there. Also, keep in mind that an occupied rental is usually less attractive than an empty, clean unit that’s ready to roll, so in some cases, it may be better to wait until the tenant has vacated and you’ve had a chance to clean and paint the unit before showing it to prospective tenants.
If you do have a tenant who is willing to cooperate, ensure that you don’t inconvenience them any more than necessary. By scheduling showings on just one or two days per week, you’ll save your current tenants, and yourself time as well.
Spruce Things Up
One benefit of having a vacant unit is that you’ll have a chance to make the property look its best for photos and showings. Take this downtime and invest a few days into cleaning the place up and making it look fresh and attractive once again. You may even want to hire a professional cleaner to go in and do a deep clean. Doing minor repairs, updating the landscaping, and applying a fresh coat of paint are relatively inexpensive but can go a long way in helping to improve the overall appearance of your rental. Plus, when your property is looking its best, you’ll attract tenants who care about the condition of the property and will be more apt to keep it in great shape as well.
Take Great Photos
Good photos can also help to generate interest in your property. And since high-quality photos will show potential tenants exactly what they can expect, this is also a good way to weed out uninterested prospects as well. While you’re at it, consider doing a video tour as well –a great way to give people an even better idea of the property and to save you from having to show the property to people who aren’t even interested in the first place.
Enlist Your Tenants to Help You Find the Next One
If you find out that your tenants are leaving, then consider giving them an incentive to find a new renter for you. Offering $100 or even $200 for a lead that turns into a tenant can encourage them to pass the word on, and is a great way to reduce downtime in between tenants.
Consider Your Ads
In addition to high-quality images, you’ll want to create impressive rental listings as well. Make sure your rental listings provide as much information on the property as possible while drawing attention to the best features that renters will be looking for. Be sure you include the basics; the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and location. But you’ll also want to mention any amenities and features that set your property apart from the competition. Do you allow pets? Are you close to good schools? Is there new flooring throughout? Off-street parking? If so, be sure to mention this in your listing.
Use Online Applications
If you haven’t done so already, then you’ll want to consider using online rental applications. Online applications can help to make the screening process easier and more efficient. To help streamline the process even further, you can even include a link in your online listing directing interested applicants on to the application form. Whenever possible, try to pre-screen applicants as much as possible before scheduling showings. With online applications, you’ll be able to see at a glance whether an applicant meets employment or income requirements, and if not, then there’s no need to schedule a showing.
Price Your Rental Right
You’ll also want to ensure that your rental is priced right. So do some research to see what other, similar properties on your area or neighborhood are renting for, and make sure your rent is a similar rate. Pricing the property competitively means it won’t sit vacant any longer than necessary.
Hire a Property Manager
Hiring a reputable property manager can also help to reduce tenant turnover, and minimize downtime in between vacancies. Having your rentals professionally managed can make for happier tenants as well. A good property manager should have systems in place that make it easy for tenants to submit repairs requests and receive a response in a timely manner. They’ll also be able to fill vacancies quickly as well. They’ll know where to advertise, and have a fast and efficient screening process to ensure that only qualified applicants make it through. See more advantages of hiring a property manager.
Keep Tenants Longer
Of course, the best way to keep your vacancy rates low is by keeping your current tenants happy.
Here’s a look at some tips and strategies for keeping your current tenants happy, and renting from you longer.
Provide Great Service
It’s easy to get frustrated when tenants call with a repairs request or to inform you of something that’s gone wrong at the property, but it’s important to ensure that you’re treating them right. After all, at the end of the day, your tenants are your customers –you’re providing them with a service and if they’re not happy with it, they’ll go somewhere else. This means it’s in your best interest to treat them right. If you respond to repairs requests in a timely manner, keep the property in good condition, and perform routine maintenance, they’ll be more likely to renew the lease.
Make Timely Repairs
In most states, landlords are required to keep their properties in a habitable condition. This means performing repairs in a reasonable timeframe. In addition to being required by law, repairs are a crucial part of keeping tenants happy. Once a tenant informs you of a problem, respond quickly. And then keep them updated on the progress of the repairs every step of the way. Making the repairs process as stress-free as possible means your tenants will be more open to renewing their lease when it runs out.
Choose Upgrades Wisely
Upgrades are often viewed by landlords as an unnecessary expense, but sometimes they can really pay off. The right upgrades can add value to a property, making it more hospitable to your current tenants and more attractive to future renters as well. In some cases, this can help a property to rent more quickly and even increase its rental value. Wondering what upgrades are worth doing? As a general guideline, it’s good to try to keep your properties features and amenities in line with other similar properties in the neighborhood. So if the neighbors have granite countertops and tiled entryways, it’s a good benchmark to strive for with your property. If no one else on the block has a Jacuzzi, then there’s probably no need to install one at your place.
- A dishwasher
- Air conditioning
- A washer/dryer
- High-speed internet
When considering potential upgrades, remember: anything that provides your tenants with some convenience is going to be appreciated. Bonus points if it involves making the property itself look nice.
Offer Longer Leases
Longer leases can help to reduce tenant turnover. You might also consider incentives for tenants if they sign a longer lease. A reduction on monthly rent or discount for the first month is a good incentive.
Be proactive with lease renewals. Check-in with your tenants a couple of months before the lease is up, to inform them that the lease is coming to an end. Ask them whether they would be interested in renewing the lease. If they’re uncertain, then consider offering an incentive to keep them renting with you for longer.
Consider Timing Your Lease Endings With Peak Rental Season
Some landlords like to time their leases so that they end during peak rental season. This means when the tenant does leave, it’ll be easier to market the property, and they’ll be able to fill the vacancy faster. Most people tend to move during the summer months, especially May to September. Keep in mind though, that every market is different, and you’ll want to make sure it’s a similar pattern for your market.
While vacancies are always frustrating, with careful planning and a few good strategies, you’ll be able to start filling those vacancies faster; keeping your existing tenants happy and renting with you longer. Just remember though, that it’s better to end up with a qualified tenant than to rush unqualified applicants through the process. Don’t compromise on screening, and remain diligent.
Finally, make sure you always conduct yourself in a professional manner. Treat your tenants right, and look to provide value. This, coupled with a diligent screening process, will go a long way in ensuring that you end up with qualified tenants –that you’ll be happy to renew the lease with when it runs out.
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