How to Keep a Great Tenant in Your Prince George's County Rental Property - Article Banner

Tenants are often the people driving your experience and success as an investor in Prince George’s County rental property. With a good tenant in place, you can expect to collect rent on time and have help maintaining your home. You’ll have a relatively stress-free rental experience, knowing that your well-screened and responsible tenants are doing what the lease requires them to do and communicating immediately when there’s a problem. 

Finding and placing good tenants is important. 

Retaining them is even more important. 

When you hold onto tenants who are performing well, you’re earning more money and saving on things like turnover costs, vacancy, and marketing. You’re paying fewer leasing fees if you work with a Prince George’s County property manager

Retaining good tenants needs to be a priority. It’s good for your property and your bottom line. 

If you’d like to do a better job of keeping tenants in your rental property, we have some ideas on how to make sure they renew their lease agreements year after year. 

Screen for Long-Term Maryland Tenants

Tenant retention can actually begin during the screening process. 

You’re looking for a long-term renter who will not only fulfill the lease term but renew the lease when it’s time. How can you tell you’re looking at an application for said tenant? 

Your tenant screening process should focus on qualifications. You’re looking at credit reports and verifying income and employment. You want to know there are no previous evictions and no history of criminal convictions or debts being owed to former landlords. 

Once you know you’re working with a tenant who meets your basic qualifying standards, take a closer look at their rental history. 

Do they tend to move every year? Or, are they likely to spend three or four years in one place before moving on? It makes sense to consider this when you’re deciding who you will approve to live in your home. A tenant with great credit who barely spends a year at a time in their rental home probably isn’t a financial risk – but you’re likely going to be looking for a new tenant in a year’s time. 

It doesn’t hurt to talk to your potential tenants, too. Ask them what they’re looking for and why they’re moving. Find out what their plans are for the next few years. Will they be trying to buy a home? Will they be moving out of state? 

All of your screening criteria must be compliant with state and federal fair housing laws. But, it’s not hard to get an idea of how long you can expect a tenant to stay. Don’t be afraid to investigate the length of their former lease terms.

Share Your Expectations before Move-In

Developing and maintaining a good relationship with your tenants is an excellent way to keep them in place. 

One thing that will help tenants have a successful and pleasant rental experience is good communication. You need to be responsive, available, and accessible. They need to know how to reach you if there’s a problem or they have a question. 

Also important when we’re talking about communication is sharing expectations. Your tenants can’t succeed if they don’t know what they’re responsible for. When you’re going over the lease agreement, discuss the most important lease clauses in detail. Prepare to reinforce and answer questions about:

  • Rent collection policies, including grace periods and late fees. 
  • Maintenance reporting procedures.
  • Move-in and move-out processes, including condition reports. 

A lot of landlords and tenants today communicate electronically. You may not be together in person to discuss the particulars of the lease agreement, but by explaining your expectations and ensuring your new tenants understand what they’re responsible for, you can ensure the rental period will be better for everyone. You’ll also be letting them know that you are open to questions and willing to support them when necessary. You want your tenants to feel comfortable reaching out.

Provide a Positive Rental Experience

Good landlords who are communicative and available have an easier time retaining tenants than landlords who are non-responsive or difficult. Make sure you’re communicating with your tenants and being helpful. 

Provide resources and keep in touch without being overbearing. Tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of the property. They’re looking for privacy. You don’t need to be calling or sending messages every week. But, if there’s something happening in town that you think might interest them or you know road construction is planned for the neighborhood, send a quick update. They’ll appreciate that you thought of them. 

Simple things can go a long way. Say thank you when rent is paid on time or your tenant is accommodating to vendors, pest control people, or neighbors who need help. You don’t want your tenants only to hear from you when something’s wrong. Keep your interactions positive and professional. 

Don’t be afraid to reward good tenants as well. If rent is paid on time six months in a row, consider sending them a gift card for a local coffee shop. It’s the opposite of a late fee; they’re getting positive reinforcement and they’ll remember that you appreciate them. 

Make Maintenance a Priority

Well-maintained properties will retain good tenants, so it’s important to respond to routine repair requests quickly. If you’re slow to respond, your tenants are likely to leave at the end of the lease term. Make maintenance a priority, and respond to repair needs with a sense of urgency and respect for your tenant’s requests. 

This also goes back to communication. You want your tenants to understand what qualifies as an emergency maintenance need, and how reporting that will be different from how they report a routine request. Maybe you want a phone call as soon as it is safe when there’s a pipe that’s leaking or a fire that’s started. But, for a routine dishwasher fix or a toilet that’s flushing funny, maybe a written maintenance request is a better way to stay organized and document everything. 

Communicate your maintenance procedures, and then be responsive. 

Even if you can’t fix something right away, let your tenants know where things stand and what you plan to do about the problem moving forward. When something needs to be repaired or replaced, over-communicating with your tenant is usually the best way to go. They don’t want to think that you have forgotten about the repair or that it’s not a priority for you.

Making routine and regular improvements will also help you keep tenants. Good renters want to live in a home that’s attractive and comfortable. Replace out-of-date appliances, make sure the walls have fresh paint, and install floors that are easy to maintain and clean.  

This is a great carrot to dangle at lease renewal time. Perhaps you can offer them something that they want – hard surface flooring instead of carpet. You can offer to put a fresh coat of paint on all the walls or update the landscaping. Maybe they’ve asked about installing a video doorbell or they’re interested in smart home features that allow them to sync their own technology with things like the thermostat, the coffee maker, and the lights. 

If you’re willing to work with them and continually update your property to make it attractive and competitive, you’re going to have an easier time keeping your tenants. 

Both repairs and regular improvements will reduce tenant turnover and even increase the amount you are able to charge in rent. When your residents get a sense that you’re willing to improve the property and make it better for them, they’ll want to stay.

Rental Increases Must Match the Prince George’s County Rental Market

Rental IncreaseRental increases are normal and expected. Most tenants will not be surprised if you approach them at renewal time with a slight increase in what they’re paying every month. 

That doesn’t mean you should chase away a great tenant with an unreasonable rental increase. Study the Prince George’s County rental market and homes that are similar to your rental. You’ll want to know what is being charged out there. Chances are, you’ll be able to raise your own rent while still staying at or just below the market prices. This will encourage tenants to stay because even though their rent is going up, they don’t have to worry about the expense and hassle of moving into a new place that probably will cost just as much. 

There are a number of other things you can do to ensure tenants want to stay. If you provide a pet-friendly property, for example, you’re likely to retain tenants more easily. Consider including something like high speed Wi-Fi in the rental amount, or landscaping costs. 

We can help with your tenant retention plans, allowing you to save money and have a better investment experience. Please contact us at Stripe Management. We work with owners, investors, and properties in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County, Washington, D.C., Capitol Heights, District Heights, Baltimore, and anywhere in the DC metro area.