6 Things Every Landlord Should Do to Win Over the Hearts of Tenants (A Renter’s Perspective!)

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Recently I moved into a new town-home in Denver and have been overcome by the amazing attentiveness of my new landlord. Since day one, he has done nothing but make me feel important and excited to live in his property. Below, I’ve compiled a list of details I’ve come to realize a renter expects and what every landlord should take into consideration to keep their tenants happy and renewing their leases! As you know, retaining renters is all about forming great relationships.

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6 Things Every Landlord Should Do to Win Over Tenants

1. Make yourself easy to get ahold of.

It shouldn’t be a difficult task to get ahold of your landlord, and if you aren’t readily available, you should be in contact in a few short hours. I have had a landlord who took two or three days to get back to me about a leak, and by then, it was a larger mess for the both of us than it had to be.

2. Replace things that need to be replaced.

This shouldn’t be a hassle for you if you want your tenants to be happy, nor should it be anything but obvious. Before settling into my current town-home, I walked through a good 10-15 properties, and I couldn’t believe the state that some of the homes were in. Please tell me why you think someone wants to move into a place that has old, stained carpet? How about a sink or shower that has water marks? Trust me — we don’t.

Related: Property Manager Checklist: 7 Vital Tasks to Keep Tenants Happy & Paying

After the walkthrough with the landlord I have now, he asked me what I would change about the rental if I was able, and he suggested I point out anything that would make me possibly choose another location over his. Personally, I didn’t at all take this as an uncomfortable moment and let him know the carpet in the basement was a little concerning, with some staining and a few holes in the walls. Upon leaving, he assured me if I chose his property that he would replace the carpet and patch the holes. Lo and behold he actually came through with his promises, and he replaced the carpet (yes, it’s cheap carpet — but it’s brand new and clean), and he patched up the holes. Those changes made the difference of a lifetime, and now I am even more inclined to keep it clean and pristine.

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3. Hire a cleaning crew.

Who wants to move into a dirty house or apartment when you just spent your whole day moving boxes and furniture? No one. I most definitely have moved into apartments supposedly left “cleaned” by the prior tenant that were not even close to what I would think would be standard. These situations have left me spending a full day of cleaning before I can even begin to think about unpacking. I personally think that landlords should make it a requirement for tenants to leave $50 of their deposit for one small deep clean before your new tenant moves in. You have no idea how much of a difference this makes.

4. Stock a few household & yard maintenance necessities.

Now, I know not every landlord is renting out a location with a yard, but if you do, help them out with the little things and keep a few things at the home for upkeep. Invest in items such as a mower, rake, snow shovel, and ice salt — because these are things most renters don’t already own, and it will help persuade them to actually do work around the property that is needed. I know this might be a push, but the home I just moved into was also stocked with a week’s worth of paper towels, toilet paper and soap. These things make a move easier on your tenant so they don’t have to run to the store on their moving day and can take their time unpacking, instead of digging through boxes to find that one roll of toilet paper.

Bonus: Above-and-Beyond Tips That’ll Make You the Landlord of the Century!

5. Offer a bottle of champagne or sparkling cider upon move-in.

I have actually had this happen at a few of my rentals, and it’s a small gesture for a landlord that feels like a HUGE gesture to your renter. I think sometimes landlords forget that moving into a new place is a really exciting time in someone else’s life, so make your tenant feel special and let them know you understand it’s a big step for them!

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Related: The 4 Core Tenant Responsibilities Every Landlord Should Know

6. Compile a list of nearby attractions.

This is something special that my current landlord did that was extremely helpful. Moving into a new neighborhood can be a bit confusing for a new tenant, so to let them feel a little more comfortable in their new surroundings. Make a list of all the closest restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, liquor stores, and hospitals. I realize we live in a day and age where people can look to their cellphones for all their questions, but it has personally been extremely helpful, and again, something simple and easy that has made a large difference for me.

Personally, I have loved being a renter, especially since I am not ready to settle down into my own home — but my experiences have been largely shaped by the actions of my landlords. If you’re a property owner and are looking for long-term tenants, remember that sometimes the small actions make the difference between whether your renter stays or moves onto the next best thing.

Renters (or landlords): What tips would you add to this list? What small actions have you found make a big difference?

Leave a comment, and let’s talk!

About Author

Hilary Catton

I am the Director of Member and Public Relations for BiggerPockets! My expertise encompasses different aspects of strategic communications, where I observe member analytics, and grow our audience by developing and executing strategies that are intended to create and uphold a positive public image for our company. I manage and oversee our quick and amazing support team, and make sure our members have the best experience while interacting on our site. I directly work on forming relationships with various members of the media, government, and the general public to generate new business opportunities for the growth of BiggerPockets!

31 Comments

  1. Beth L.

    I leave the new tenants a hand-written, “Congrats on your new home” greeting card, along with a gift. Sometimes is a nice house plant, a small basket of cleaning supplies, and one time I even left them a painting on the mantle. I listen for clues about them and try to give them something that they’d like.

    I also put all their rental papers into a binder along with all the appliance operating manuals, and a list of utilities in the area and their phone numbers so it is easy to switch in to their name, and then all info is in one place.

  2. Andrew Syrios

    From what we’ve noticed (and what I remember being a tenant), the big thing is maintenance as you stated. It’s really the only customer service you have after a tenant moves in assuming that tenant is paying the rent. And from what we’ve heard from many tenants is just like what you’ve said, the landlord didn’t fix anything or rented it with all sorts of things broken. While it’s probably often an exaggeration much of the time, I do think many landlords are penny wise and pound foolish here, Making quick, quality maintenance a priority is the best form of tenant relations and tenant retention that we have found.

    • Some landlords claim even here on BP that if a tenant moves into a place with shall we “deferred maintenance,” it’s the tenant’s fault because they signed the lease.

  3. Anna Watkins

    Nice post — thanks.

    I accidentally left behind a roll of TP and some dish soap one time when new residents moved in — and they loved it! I couldn’t believe they actually commented on how nice it was,. For sure, now I always leave a roll of paper towels, a pump bottle of hand or dish soap, and a roll of paper in the bathroom. Costs $5, max. Goodwill? Priceless 🙂

  4. Chris Emick

    Thanks as a soon-to-be landlord who’s day job is in technology and customer service, this article agrees with an assumption I had about landlording; that in today’s economy it’s relatively easy and cheap to separate yourself from the “competition” with some good old fashion kindness and understanding. These are some great tips, and thanks for sharing.

  5. Chanté Owens

    I couldn’t agree more with this post. The apartment I moved in when I first moved to Seattle last year gave a “Welcome Box.” Inside was a roll of bath tissue, Kleenex, hand soap, some packets of tea and some candy. The box didn’t cost more than $5.00, but I felt it was a nice gesture and greatly appreciated, because sometimes when you move, you don’t have Kleenex, or bath tissue and hand soap!

  6. Brad Klock

    So my one tenant pays me $140/mth on top of what the government pays. So she has two little boys and the one little boy handed me the money (all 20’s) and I gave him and his brother each $20 for Christmas. She was almost in tears cause they don’t have a lot. Sometimes it’s the little things!

  7. Bryan Otteson

    Great tips. I love it. Every new tenant that moves into my units will find a thank you card on the counter, a $10 gift card to Target, fancy (plastic) champagne cups, and a bottle of “bubbly” in the fridge. Cost? $25. My tenants still thank me 6 months later. I am not an “old salt” but I’ve never had a problem with a tenant I brought in and treated well. Even the one that broke lease did so beneficially to us both.

  8. Tony Gunter

    I was with up to giving them a lawn mower to use, aka destroy, burn up, blow up. People will treat your equipment worse than your rental. Then you get into a “the lawnmower wouldn’t work, blah, blah, blah”. Forget that!

    I would rather put in my contract “maintain the yard, or I will charge you $$$ per month to SE that it is done”. The mower idea will bite you, promise.

    • Personally, I hate mowers. Mowers are generally hard to start. You have to crank them up a million times, and still they do not start. They are often unreliable. Just give me a push mower, and I’ll happily mow the grass regularly, as well as take care of that nice flower and vegetable garden I put in and will leave behind, even though landlords generally are ungrateful (even as they complain about ungrateful tenants)..

    • Jeffrey Allen

      In me lease, I mention that a number of appliances that I am leaving for the tenants convenience, but will be hauled off and not replaced should they fail or the tenant no longer wish to have them. A garage freezer, charcoal grill, and lawnmower were among these.

  9. Mindy Zimmerman

    I was -just- thinking along these lines yesterday. Getting my tenants happened in kind of a crazy way and I had the thought yesterday that I wish I’d had time to get in the house before they moved in to leave a little package of chocolates or something as a welcome gift. The “cleaning supplies” idea crossed my mind too but I thought that might’ve been taken the wrong way! Next time I’ll definitely leave some TP, paper towels and soap along with a treat, though.

    I have to agree with Tony about the lawn mower. Also, I’ve been warned by property managers that any tools or appliances not specifically mentioned in a lease agreement will likely disappear when a tenant moves.

  10. Rachael Collins

    Great advice!! I love to hear ideas to build great relationships with residents. So often landlords seem to see themselves on a different planet than the people they are providing housing for. BP is really changing that mindset for alot of people!!

  11. Oliver Bonk

    I do Christmas gift card to all my tenant. I tell them that it is the tenant responsibility to replace the air/furnace filter but if the call me i would be happy to do it for them. This serves two purposes, makes them happy and it actually gets changed Sometimes! Just treating tenants with respect and addressing any problems big or small quickly goes a long way. Even when you are showing the how to clean the lint filter in the dryer for the 3rd time while explaining to them that it is a fire hazard!! A list of utilities, stores, attractions has always been appreciated. I think I will start doing the small gift basket upon move in . Keeping them happy and they usually respect you and your property a little bit more. Sometimes!!

  12. Brian Benbow

    This is more of a question rather than a reply….I currently own a duplex and manage it myself (2 years in). One of the things that I have noticed recently is that my tenants are starting to call me for items to be repaired which don’t seem to be normal wear & tear (The duplex was built in 2013). I.E. one of the toilets was clogged and the plunger did not solve the problem. The plumber was able to fix the clog but then the tenants directed the plumber to the other toilets that have become loose. The plumber told me that they needed to be removed and resealed. It seems that whenever a repair person is around, there is something else that needs to be tended to. As the landlord/owner, should I be paying to repair these items or holding the tenant responsible for what seems to be faster than normal wear & tear?

    • The problem with holding the tenant responsible for items beyond what you think is normal wear and tear is that the tenant notifying you about the problem may not be the tenant whose wear and tear was abnormal. It may very well have been the preceding tenant.

    • Deanna Opgenort

      You really, really DID want those toilets tightened if they were loose, though 2 years in seems a bit unusual. There is little a tenant could “do” to a toilet to cause it to loosen. My guess is that the original installation was not up to par unless the the tenants are obese. Dropping 400lbs on a toilet repeatedly could cause things to shift.

  13. Excellent post!

    I would add: Deal with problem tenants. I moved out of a building where I was the tenant with the longest tenure because the landlord absolutely would not deal with the hard-partying folks who lived right above me. He kept giving them “one more chance” despite them throwing loud parties that lasted until 2 or 3 AM or whenever the cops showed up. When it became clear to me that he was never going to get rid of them and they were never going to change, he lost a multi-year tenant who paid on time and caused no problems.

  14. I agree with your article other than leaving a lawn mower. I manage a number of rentals and will remove them if left at a home. Too much liability, same with swing sets. One of my owners wanted to leave a beat up old swing set. Can you imagine the liability if it colapsed with a child playing on it.
    My biggest struggle is convincing owners to do right by the tenants. It is a lot cheaper spending money up front than to always look for new tenants

  15. sid harriel

    Congrats one and all! What an enlightened bunch!! Good ideas and practices. I also do all the above and one more. I solicit coupons from local vendors for free or discount items. Win-win marketing. As a result I keep tenants for many years. Lastly, the following shows in what you all are doing but I’ll state it as an additional enhancement. Respect and “justified” compassion. Good renting!

  16. Paul MacInnis

    I loved This article!! Great tips – I really like the idea of leaving a little basket at move-in. I have always treated tenants with respect and it goes a long long way. Not all my buildings have people from a high socio-economic class and I’ve been told many times “I’m the best landlord they’ve ever had” simply because I come in and chat if I’m collecting rent, or remember their kids names, etc. Little things matter!!!

  17. In my years of looking at rentals, I have seen houses that are inexcusable: dead and live bugs, food on the walls, over grown yards. And, then I have seen immaculate homes, that make you want to move right in. I love your tips, they would make for a great experience – thanks for sharing!

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