3 Tried & True Ways to Keep a Tenant Staying & Paying

by | BiggerPockets.com

Most investors purchase a property with a certain rental $$$ expectation in mind. $400 per month, $600 per month or $1000 per month — it doesn’t really matter unless you can get someone to pay that amount to inhabit the property. We all know that finding and keeping those tenants is the key to making all those ROI numbers work.

I have said many times over that you make your money, your true return, when you buy and not when you sell. A buy and hold is the only way to make a residual income that can be calculated and even secured by your investment potential. All of this being said, be proactive. Manage your longterm business on the front end.

Here are 3 Tried & True Ways to Keep a Tenant Staying & Paying

Tip #1: Be Responsive

Communication with your tenant will make or break your investment.

If you want to stay hands off, ensure that your property management company is engaged and makes regular visits. I have witnessed investors lose the entire property due to vandalism and vacancy because they were not communicating or making regular visits to the property.

Even in great areas where rents for a SFH are high, life happens! Couples split up, people lose their jobs and family members become ill — and in all of these scenarios, resources can become strained, and pride can get in the way, so you may never know until it’s too late.

Related: The 3 Things New Landlords Need to Manage

The family you had living in your $1200 per month SFH with 3 beds and 2 baths who were just there 2 months ago, but didn’t mail you a rent check this month are nowhere to be seen. When you do visit your property, a man who goes by “Uncle Chuck” and his two hounds are staying to “keep an eye on it for you.” Needless to say, this can be avoided by simply developing a relationship with your tenant and checking up at least twice a month.

Tip #2: Stay Energy Efficient

When you purchase the property or after a tenant vacates and you have a breather, spend the extra money and insulate the walls and attic space.

The average 1,200 sq. ft. home is not adequately insulated, and we have great, inexpensive products out there to do so. By filling in the gaps in the walls and by laying down a nice bed of the blown-in-stuff in the rafters, you will greatly reduce the heating and cooling cost of the property.

One of the most common excuses that I got when the weather started getting colder was that the tenant had to pay a heating bill, so they couldn’t afford to pay the rent. In some areas you can’t even evict a tenant in the winter months. Keeping the bills low by insulating ensures that the rent is paid in full and the tenant stays longer.

Tip #3: Keep Plumbing in Check

The most common and costly issue to deal with is a plumbing fix. The emergency rates that most plumbers charge compare to the rates of my Cardiologist. Even if the solution only takes 15 minutes, you still get charged for at least an hour with the service call on top of that.

Related: 5 Smart Ways to Spend More NOW to Save Big LATER as a Landlord

Again, be proactive. Replace the water feed lines with PEX, and put in plenty of shut off valves for repairs. Replace the waste lines with PVC, and ensure you have at least one clean out. Seal the toilets with caulk, seal the drain connections with plumber’s putty, and cap off any unused gas lines.

Re-plumbing a home usually takes about 3 days with PEX, but the money and time are well worth every penny. It only takes one call at 2:00 a.m. with a screaming tenant because water is “just spraying from everywhere!” and getting the $1,000 bill days later to really clear your thinking.


Some of these tips may seem costly, but the potential return lost to future maintenance issues if these areas are neglected is much higher!

These three tips were learned the hard way — by paying the price of not being proactive. Like I stated above, keeping tenants happy and paying is the key to ROI. The area, the property class, multifamily or single family – it’s all the same. Reducing your risk on the investment at the front end WILL make you more of a return with fewer 2:00 a.m. phone calls, and to me, that is PRICELESS!

What steps do you take to keep your tenants happy?

Leave me a comment below!

About Author

Engelo Rumora

Engelo Rumora, a.k.a.”the Real Estate Dingo,” quit school at the age of 14 and played professional soccer at the age of 18. From there, he began to invest in real estate. He now owns real estate all over the world and has bought, renovated, and sold over 500 properties. He runs runs Ohio Cashflow, a turnkey real estate investment company in the country (Inc 5000 2017 & 2018) and is currently in the process of launching a real estate brokerage called List’n Sell Realty. He is also known for giving houses away to people in need and his crazy videos on YouTube. His mission in life is to be remembered as someone that gave it his all and gave it all away.


      • Engelo Rumora

        Hi Bill,

        Thanks for your comment.

        The “seal in” is more so for insuring stability to the toilet so that a leak does not occur.

        You and Kyle really tested me on this question. I actually made a call to our contractor to get his exact reasoning behind the method 🙂 lol

        Thanks and have a great day.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Kyle,

      Thanks for your comment and attention to detail. If the toilet is not properly situated over the wax ring and connected to the drain tube then you will have a leak. If it is installed properly, the base should be surrounded by a thin bead of caulk to ensure stability. Unless you are placing the toilet on a concrete slab.

      Thanks and have a great day.

      • I would still have to disagree from my experience. A bead of caulk will not prevent the rocking of a toilet and will hide the leak and cause damage. I would say it is much safer to caulk around the base of the toilet when installing on a concrete slab as the concrete will not be damaged from water like wood will. I have actually transitioned from the wax ring on all my installs a little over a year ago to a waxless seal. It adheres to the base of the toilet and then fits directly inside thd drainline. The only time a leak would happen then is if the toilet rocks excessively and forces the seal down and then there is also a backup in the drainline. So far it has worked flawlessly.

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Mohammad,

      Thanks for your message.

      I suggest you just knock on the door every once in a while as a friendly landlord and take a peek inside to see if there are any visible issues.

      If you present yourself in a happy and friendly way, you will find that the positive energy will rubb off on others.

      I regularly get invited inside by many of our tenants.

      Thanks and have a great day.

  1. I loved your post and I am new to REI. I plan on accumulating a buy and hold portfolio. Is it better to pay the electric and water yourself or is it better to have the tenant pay?

    • Engelo Rumora

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your comment.

      It depends on the situation and circumstances.

      I always prefer for the tenants to have all the utilities in their own name.

      In Toledo, Ohio tho, the water has to be in the owners name so this is quite a bummer. If the tenants leave without paying the water bill, the owner is then liable to pay it.

      Thanks and have a great day.

  2. I will at times drop off a small plant as a gift. Shows that I am thinking of them and care about them. It also allows me to see how they are keeping my place up and if I should expect issues later on.


  3. Scott K.

    I know this is an older blog but I have some info on the caulk around the commode.

    I failed my plumbing inspection with it not being caulked. I brought that very point up when I was discussing it with him. So What I did was caulk all the way around except for about an inch in the rear.

    Well he came back in and passed it. I figure that if it leaks it will come out the back where I didn’t caulk it.

    Sometimes these inspectors make no sense

    • Engelo Rumora

      Thanks Scott,

      Maybe my guys did know what they where talking about haha 🙂

      Yeah, I am not a fan of the inspectors either.

      What they say and fault on, most of the time has nothing to do with the sustainability of the investment.

      Thanks and have a great week.

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