What Makes a "Good Tenant"?

4 Replies

I was just asked what my "average tenant" is. I realized that that's changed over the years, and, at least for me, good tenants seem to be partially related to being a good landlord.

When I stated out I wasn't a good landlord -- I tried to skimp on maintenance to maximize profits. Eventually I realized that was hurting profits, and by trying to be a better landlord I also saw that my tenants were becoming "good". My average tenant now is placed for 2+ years, some for 5+, and I rarely have maintenance issues. I also plan for repair costs, putting $15,000 per building (@ 10% of rents monthly) into a sinking fund to deal with any maintenance issues asap. Part of that is because I believe that anyone who goes into my units are a potential renter, so keeping them near showing shape is just good business practice. It also shows that you value your properties' condition, which I think helps reinforce the idea that the tenants should respect them too.

So, it's your turn: What do your "good tenants" look like? Do you think that's related to your own business practices or simply specific screening criteria? I think I have good longevity but I don't seek applicants who say they're going to stay for a long time -- those tend to be the tenants that leave the soonest, in my experience. Instead I look for stability in employment, credit, no criminal background and so on. Maybe people who have stability want to maintain that. That might explain why, as a landlord, if you can provide a consistent relationship and a well-maintained property your tenant is more likely to stay long-term.

I think you made a really good point here. You'll never have a better tenant than a landlord, so the better we are as landlords, the better tenants we will attract. 

If you only care about maximizing profits, at the expense of the tenants livelihood (essentially) this will reflect in the behavior and turnover of the tenant. 

On the flip side, if you're attentive, proactive, and fair with your tenants I find they will reciprocate. Obviously there are outliers though and we should all assume tenant behavior to be a bell curve.

I think finding a landlords average tenant is similar to the old saying "you are the average of your 5 closest friends". More than likely they will mirror your lead. 

before getting a good tenant, "you" have to be a great landlord. i tell this to all newbies that are getting in the game.

@Alexander Felice

Good point about the 5 closest friends, that sounds pretty accurate. To some degree this sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy -- Treat your tenants like they're the best you could ask for and that's what they'll become (hopefully every time).

@George P.

Keep telling them! I wish I had known that going in, and I hope everyone who starts out knows that when they hit the ground.

Heres a few qualities of a good tenant...maybe you guys can add to the list

  • Pays rent in advance of due date
  • Notifies me of repairs needed, instead of letting my property deteriorate
  • Let's me know of any unusual or illegal activity from other tenants
  • Understands when management is trying to resolve a problem, and it takes longer than expected.
  • Respects other tenants
  • Lived at previous resident for 5+ years
  • Has the same job for 5+ years
  • Treats my property as their own, and takes care of it

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