The holiday season is upon us and while that brings with it a lot of joy and excitement – it also brings with the most dreaded season for landlords to fill their units. Simply put – people don’t like to move between Thanksgiving and the New Year so renting property can be both difficult and stressful. If you have any vacancies right now you probably know exactly what I’m talking about (I have two.) This past week on the BiggerPockets Forums there has been a discussion going on about strategies for overcoming this problem. I’ve decided to compile some of the different strategies used by seasoned investors here on the BiggerPockets Blog as well as some thoughts from other respected landlords I’ve reached out to about overcoming this problem. Without further ado, let’s hear from those landlords:
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Quotes from Landlords on Renting Property During the Slow Winter Months
“I time my leases to not end in the Fall, but December 31st is okay, because leasing picks up here in January. If I need to lease during this slow time, I crank up my marketing more than normal: Craigslist ads pointing to my YouTube video about the home, signs in yard, talk to neighbors. I will also run multiple Craigslist ads and keep renewing them every couple of days so they stay closer to the top. I haven’t had to discount, but I would discount the first month to get a good tenant in place if needed.” -Jon Klaus
“The best advice for landlords is to just wait it out and not take a tenant out of desperation. It will be far worse in the long run.” -Aly L
“I think it is easy to distinguish the “must moves” from the “I want to move” tenants based on income verification and leasing information (where are they at with their current lease). If they are desperate for relocation, I will hold off because it is more of a hassle in the long term, but if they legit want to move, I may make more repairs/upgrades for them… I would rather lose 3 months of rent to keep it vacant than get someone in and evict them down the road” -Dan S.
“An eviction can cause up to 6 months rent + the non-monetary issues (stress on yourself & your spouse). You’ve gotta think long-term. You can either A. lower the rent ($50 max) or wait it out. Each month the tenant pool gets bigger. Starting in March, you’ll see a lot more people looking for rentals. This is why the 50% rule is so important. No matter how long you’ve had a tenant, save 10% of your revenue for vacancies/evictions/nonpayments & put it into a separate reserve.” -Scott W.
“People always love offers. Free TV at move in, 1/2 off first month, $25 gift card a month to Starbucks, Target, or anywhere else. You name it. If your incentive or bonus is say 50% or so of your rent, it may sound far better than just offering half off. There are countless other possibilities ” – Josh Dorkin
“Get creative with the incentives. Example: pay the tenant’s heat for the first two months of the lease. In the lease, just make sure you cap the amount of the utility you pay to $150… or whatever.” -Chris Martin
“If you do annual leases, I would set the end of the first lease to be June ( + or – one month) to coincide with the school year” -Steve Babiak
“If you sign a lease with a new tenant that would otherwise end during this time period, it might be wise to change the term of the lease to something other than the standard 6 or 12 months (like maybe 13 months, for example) so that the lease doesn’t end during the holiday season. Another option would be to possibly delay closing if it’s a new property you’re acquiring. I’m doing this right now.” -Kyle J
“When you think you’re the worst marketer on the planet, or that you are totally out of touch with market rents and must have overpriced your units, or that everyone in town hates you, then stop. Look at the calendar. It’s probably from Mid-November to Mid-January or February, or March and it’s not you, it’s the weather. So hang in there, re-read some BP posts about lowering your rates, but not your standards, and spend the time you are not showing units, in marketing for renters.” -Ann Bellamy
What are your best tips for getting a property rented? Add your tips in the comments below!
Photo: Luis Hernandez