It costs less to retain a tenant than to deal with tenant turnover.

Why Tenant Retention is So Important

You might think that as long as your unit is filled, it’s fine… no need to keep the same tenant year after year. The answer is, while you might want to get rid of some tenants as quickly as possible (we’ve all had that type of tenant!) if you have good tenants, you want to keep them around. There’s no guarantee that the next tenant will be responsible and easy to work with.

Plus, there are often costs that come along with tenant turnover. You might lose rent money if the unit is vacant for a while. If you have to market the property for rent, you will also incur those costs. You might also have to deal with repair costs that aren’t covered by the deposit. And your own time (or your property manager’s time) is an issue too—you’ll have to screen and give tours to prospective tenants until you secure one. Needless to say, it’s good to keep your old tenants who are already screened and have already proven their worth.

Here are a few tenant retention ideas to ensure that you keep turnover low!

1. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance!

Nothing makes a tenant want to move out more than repeated maintenance issues! Here’s how to keep tenants happy despite the inevitable leaky faucets, faulty doorknobs, and broken thermostats:

  • Respond as quickly as possible to requests. Definitely respond within 24 hours. Quicker is better. Consider alternative ways for tenants to put in maintenance requests— some landlords now use text messaging and email in addition to phone calls.
  • Treat maintenance problems as an urgent issue. As soon as you receive a maintenance request, call the appropriate technician and get them in as soon as possible. Get the ball rolling immediately to ensure the problem is solved.
  • Hire highly-qualified, experienced, trusted maintenance guys. Don’t go for the cheapest.
  • Follow up with the maintenance guy and the renter to make sure the problem was satisfactorily solved.

2. Offer perks for longtime tenants.

It’s always smart to offer “upgrades” for tenants if they choose to sign on again. Something like:

  • Better light fixtures
  • A fresh coat of paint
  • New blinds for the windows
  • A free gym membership

These are good upgrades that won’t cost you a fortune, but they will make your tenants happy and give them an incentive to stay. Of course, this should be done on top of the necessary repairs and maintenance that you’re already doing.

3. Always be friendly and empathetic.

Many renters don’t have a favorable view of their landlord. You can work to change that by always treating them with kindness and empathy. If you have office staff or a property manager, then make sure that these people do the same. If renters call you to complain—listen to them and make it clear that you’re on their side and that you’ll work to solve the issue. Don’t make excuses and don’t put the blame on the tenants.

What are your best tips for improving tenant retention rates? What are some things you need to work on? Tell us in the comments below!


  1. These are all great points. I remember a long time ago when I was a tenant and used to rent- the apartment complex I lived in offered a pretty generous referral bonus. If you referred someone to them and they became a renter you received some money off of your next months rent.