8 Keys to SFR Tenant Retention

happy tenants sitting on couch

With a highly competitive rental market, single-family rental (SFR) owners/operators understand that tenant retention is more critical than ever. Growing your SFR business is easier (and more profitable) when you’re able to retain your current, quality, tenants rather than regularly having to turn over properties for new renters. But tenant retention takes effort and focus.  

Here are eight steps you can take to hang on to your valuable tenants and maximize your SFR investments in this market.   

1. Conduct a comprehensive tenant screening. 

One of the best ways to ensure tenant retention is to select quality tenants from the start. Screening shouldn’t just include an applicant’s financial background and rental payment history. You’ll also want to check with previous landlords about their experience with them as tenants and confirm there are no disqualifying issues that would make them the wrong fit for your rental home.  

2. Focus on effective communication. 

Having a robust technology platform can help keep the lines of communication open with your tenants, giving them a place to not only make monthly payments but also to request assistance with maintenance and other issues.  

Regular email reminders about preventive maintenance checks that could affect the property are also critical, as is follow-up communication when issues arise. And while lease enforcement is a requirement for SFR success, understanding a tenant’s particular circumstances and keeping the lines of communication open so you can work with them where possible helps to build strong tenant relationships and helps drive up tenant retention.  

3. Emphasize preventive maintenance. 

Not having to manage or pay for maintenance-related issues is a big reason many people choose to rent, and it’s also why well-maintained properties stay rented. Focusing on preventive maintenance—especially for crucial items like HVAC and hot water tanks—helps ensure they stay in good functioning shape and lowers your risks of potential billbacks or tenants needing to move out during unexpected repairs.  

Consider including HVAC filter changes, which also allows you to regularly get eyes on the interior of the home and catch other potential maintenance needs, or at least providing filters and timely reminders for changing them. 

4. Require renters insurance. 

Offering or requiring renters insurance for tenants can protect you both. Their assets will be covered in the event of a fire or theft, and your risk of personal loss claims (and related financial losses on your end) is reduced. 

5. Swiftly respond to service requests.  

There’s little that can do more to damage a tenant relationship than ignoring or being slow to respond to their requests for service. Quick and professional communication and follow-up after the service are a must, not only for tenant retention, but also for keeping your properties in good condition as well.    

6. Be receptive to tenant feedback. 

Being open to tenant feedback is one of the best ways to build trust and enhance tenant retention. It may seem obvious, but ensuring your tenants feel heard and valued and that their feedback is understood and appreciated is critical to keeping them happy and keeping your properties occupied. And don’t just wait for them to share feedback: Seek out ways to get it from them, via surveys or feedback forms following the completion of a maintenance or other service request.  

7. Offer incentives. 

When it’s time for lease renewal, give good tenants a reason to stay by offering an incentive, whether it’s a promotion in partnership with another business, new features like smart locks or enhanced showerheads, or even a financial discount on a month’s rent. The lease renewal process should also be seamless. Keeping it simple and effortless for tenants, with any rental increases outlined well in advance and renewal reminders shared in a timely manner, is an incentive in and of itself.  

8. Don’t shy away from strategic renovations. 

Renovations can enhance your tenant’s quality of life as well as entice them to stay in your property. But knowing the right renovations to maximize your investment while also meeting their expectations is key. Part of this equation involves understanding the current rental market for the area and what upgrades and amenities are being offered by others to increase tenant satisfaction and retention. Knowing which renovations will have staying power is also critical, so aim for functional and timeless upgrades over trendy and superficial ones. And avoid adding cosmetics that cut up spaces and designate a specific purpose for every room. Leaving spaces more open and fluid allows renters to decide how they want to use their living space and enhances their satisfaction. 

Focusing on tenant retention activities and strategies like these is definitely worth your time and effort in their ability to enhance your investment. Concentrating on these efforts can help you save on or avoid costly repairs as well as decrease expenses related to vacancies, from the loss of rental income to related costs for tenant screening and marketing your properties.  

Contact MCS today 

Looking for a trusted SFR services partner to drive tenant retention for your properties? MCS can help with everything from preventive maintenance and renovations to tenant turns when they do occur. Contact Jason Myers or Kerry Anderson at MCS today to learn more.