Finding and keeping the right tenants is essential to the success of any rental property investment. Tenants with kids are some of the most stable, some of the most long term and some of the best tenants to have sticking around.
And to those kids, Christmas is magic. It’s a unique time of year that too many of us older folks have forgotten and, doing your job right just means remembering some of that. Even with families and kids as tenant, the holidays are also the perfect time to seal relationships with tenants, and to make sure they’re happy, even with a slight rent increase when the time comes.
These are the ten most important things when it comes to celebrating, and doing it right, for landlord tenant relationships and for the overall success of your enterprise, no matter how small.
1. Put it in writing. Distribute your policy as to decorations, parties, revelry and electricity use early. Almost everything below should go into that policy. Mid October is a good time to have it distributed, because later on, you should really only be sending a card. The same list could be included at the time of lease signing, but it’s good to have a friendly reminder as the holidays approach, and as in general, people are often more receptive at this time of year too.
2. Decorations – So long as decorations aren’t being affixed to the building, most landlords aren’t going to get too involved. A policy about nails or similar fasteners might drive the message home. A word about safety especially with window curtains, electrical currents, potential overloaded outlets and ladders isn’t going to hurt. Of course, there are rare situations where tenants might go a little over the top, and in those cases it’s best to simply discuss decorating with them in person.
3. Common Areas – Obviously this depends on the type of units you’re renting, but a clear policy usually excludes the use of common or outdoor electrical outlets. In these cases, providing your own decorations, whether they’re electrical or not, in those areas won’t hurt and makes the impact a lot easier.
4. Electrical Safety – Again, for some tenants, you may want to forbid the use of electrical connections from inside to light outdoor lights. Most tenants are not going to feel very strongly about it.
5. Candles – This one bears repeating simply because the candles seem to come out for the holidays. They pose a serious fire hazard and there’s nothing wrong with using candles as an excuse to remind tenants to check smoke detectors and similar fire safety devices.
6. Revelry – For many property managers, leading up to the Christmas season is the only time they’ll remind tenants about noise, entertaining and showing guests out late at night. It’s ok to remind them at the same time that this policy is true year-round. Many guests won’t even know that such a policy exists and there’s no better time to remind them. Many tenants will actually be thankful to know that their own neighbors aren’t going to be throwing the real barn-stormers next door. A simple, friendly list of dos and don’ts is fine, and most tenants will read such notices, and remember even come graduation time next June.
7. Invitations – Some tenants will travel during the holidays. Invite them to let you know and get a chance to make upgrades, inspections, or retro-fittings while they’re gone. Replacing or upgrading appliances to newer more efficient models is a great way to welcome them back. In the event any unit will be unoccupied for long, you may want to discuss other issues with your tenants prior to their departure.
8. Insurance – Review your policies. Liability and property insurance can specify very different things for guests, or non-residents, and again, for units left unoccupied. Many landlords will review insurance coverage annually, and during December.
9. Burglaries – Burglaries and break-ins always go up around the holidays. It’s another good idea to remind tenants of this, and provide them with good contact information if repairs to windows or locks are necessary. A note reminding them to inform you as to when and for how long they might be traveling is also a good idea.
10. Generosity – Every landlord is a Scrooge, and that’s doubly true at Christmas. Though the media is filled with stories of ultra-generous and even newsworthy acts, even very simple acts will win hearts and minds, and again, especially during the holiday season. For landlords particularly interested in keeping good tenants in place, this is a good time to do it.
Remember, too; holding onto better tenants isn’t an art so much as it’s just good business. It’s nearly always less expensive to renew a lease than to find someone to sign a new one. Christmas or whatever holiday your tenants are celebrating is a good time to get to know what they might like, or what might make them happier. Responding to requests like that will get you far better tenants than all the classified ads and internet postings in the world.