Winter move outs, ways of discouraging

3 Replies

As most of you know, vacancies can be harder to fill than warmer times of the year. People who have their "lives together" TEND to move when the weather is more cooperative. That being said, our phone rings just as much. It's just that 9 out of 10 callers are that class of people who HAVE to move because they're being evicted, or just "feel like a change". It's extraordinary...as the quality of our tenants has slowly improved, our winter vacancies have increased in length. We just had an absolutely lovely 2 BR apartment sit for 7 months. New paint, flooring, etc. 7 months. Winter being about over, just like a switch, we rented it a couple of days ago, as well as another that isn't even vacant yet!

We've struggled with ideas ... penalties, rewards, etc. but nothing feels quite right (or completely legal! haha!) I know oftentimes, when we have winter move outs, they simply need to move then and no amount of reward or penalty is going to keep them there. Do any of you have any ideas you've tried or want to try? Love to hear thoughts! 

Thank you!

@Kenneth LaVoie

I started requiring a 60 day notice.  When notice is given we start advertising and doing showings.. This has helped some. It really hasn't stopped an unstable tenant from moving in January. Just gives us a heads up. We had 6 move between December and Februaury this year. I don't think we lost more than 2-3 weeks rent total.

I have seen a lot of managers writing leases to end in August/March. I have also heard from applicants some do penalize for a december-february move out.  

Wow- seven months, that's brutal. We do a couple things that have helped. If and when we have a winter vacancy, we require an 18 month lease. Hasn't seemed any harder to fill and it puts us in a position that is more likely to have a vacancy in the summer than the winter. Secondly, we put a fairly hefty premium on allowing a lease to go month to month- generally $100. Once that 18 month lease is up, the tenants are more likely to sign on for another 12 than go month to month and pay that extra money. If they do, it makes the winter vacancy sting a little bit less. Good luck!

There is noting you can do to control when tenants decide to move out. A lease has no bearing on when they move.

The solution to avoiding extended vacancies is better business management. Require adequate notice, advertise before the vacancy, preferably 2 months ahead, and ramp up your advertising.

Assuming you do regular inspections to insure your units are maintained in good condition and allow tenants a smooth move out you implement a plan where by they assist you with showings while they are still in the unit.

The biggest mistake landlords and PMs make is in not maintaining their units adequately when tenants are in place. This results in additional turn over time to get a unit to market ready. Not being able to show a unit while still occupied can easily add 2 months to a vacancy or increases risk by having to accept applicants needing to move immediately.

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