An empty property is the best way for a landlord to lose money on their real estate investment. With rent and utility payments coming out of your own pocket, it won't take long for your lack of tenancy to send you to the marketplace with your property. Now, assuming that losing your investment isn't your end goal, it's advisable to have a strategy in place to ensure your property is only empty for infinitesimal periods of time. The quickest, and most stress free, way to do this is to keep your current tenants as happy as possible.
Give Your Tenants Space
As a landlord, it's understandable that you want to keep tabs on your property to ensure it isn't being destroyed by unruly tenants. However, you have to remember to toe the very fine line between being a firm landlord and a control-freak.
Nobody likes a landlord who is constantly invading their privacy to check that the coffee table is still intact. If you're the type of micro-manager who wants full control over all of your properties, your tenants will be quick to leave after the initial lease has expired. Therefore, if you want to keep your current tenants happy, try lengthening the leash a little bit and giving them the space they need to call your house their home.
Handle Problems Efficiently
While you may view tenants primarily as a source of income, they will probably view you as a source of repairs above everything else. As such, the main thing that tenants look for in a landlord, besides their property's appeal, is someone who handles problems quickly and efficiently.
It is your duty as a landlord to be prompt with your tenant's requests, whether it's a light fixture that needs to be replaced, a boiler that needs to be reignited, or something as simple as a door handle that needs to be adjusted. Many real estate developers make the mistake of letting these problems linger until they have to act; however, doing so will quickly move your tenants on to the next property in search of a more considerate landlord.
Of course, it's understandable that you may not have the time to respond to problems immediately. If you are building a sizable portfolio of properties, there just isn't enough time in the day to be attentive to every tenant. In such cases, it's important not to spread your resources too thin. Rather, consider using a property manager to handle these day-to-day matters on your behalf. Doing so will ensure each tenant has access to immediate help, keeping them happy in the long run.
Sweeten the Deal
Everybody loves a generous person, and when that person happens to be their landlord, they love them even more. One great way to keep your tenants happy is to sweeten the deal come renewal time. This can be anything from a box of chocolates and a thank you card to a slight reduction in rent. Regardless of your offer, simply throwing something into the mix will go a long way to keeping your tenants happy.
Of course, you shouldn't overdo this or it will seem excessive and will cost you more than it's worth. If you are interested in how to make the tenancy agreement more appealing come renewal time, speak to your real estate attorney who will be able to explain the terms of the current lease and what slight alterations can be made to improve your chances of a quick renewal. In some cases, something as simple as allowing your tenant to paint the bedroom will allow them to feel more at home.
However you choose to do so, remember that keeping your tenants happy will go a long way to keeping your business profitable. If you are worried about the risk of an empty property losing you money, speak with your real estate attorney who will be able to outline the best ways to secure a contract extension and relieve any stress you have about your portfolio.