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Multifamily

7 Secrets to Boosting Your Apartment Lease Renewals

The staggering reality is that only 50% of current residents renew their leases at the end of their term. Here are 7 apartment lease renewal ideas to help you maximize your apartment resident retention.

1. Foster a Sense of Community

In SatisFacts’ annual survey of 1.6 million apartment residents to determine the top drivers for value and lease renewals, a sense of community topped the list for the eighth time in nine years1. As the report explains: “Residents in 2021 now determine value based on how living at the community makes them feel and makes them look to the outside world. Residents want and need to feel connected to what’s going on where they live.”

When it comes to apartment marketing, events are crucial to creating a sense of community. Summer season is the perfect time to host an outdoor resident event, especially given lingering concerns about COVID. Look to BBQs, croquet, cornhole, chess, and other games that connect residents.

It’s the role of on-site property management teams to make introductions that foster community goodwill. It also means that a savvy landlord is making referrals, recommendations, and suggestions on who to meet within the apartment community.

2. Provide Feedback Opportunities

Surveys are a great mechanism for getting input from apartment residents as long as you follow these key guidelines:

  • Keep it Short – Most experts recommend that you limit questions to no more than five questions.
  • Add a Progress Bar to the Survey – Research shows that surveys are more likely to be completed when respondents can see that they’re making progress and are almost done.
  • Always Provide an Area for Comment – This area is where a savvy landlord should invest the most time – looking for informal suggestions for improvements in and around the apartment complex.
  • Remain Aware of Timing – Key events should trigger a survey, including apartment move-in date, maintenance requests, upcoming lease renewal date, and move-out date. Remember, for example, to send a feedback response approximately two weeks after a tenant has moved in so that they can reasonably be expected to find the time to complete it.
  • Offer Survey Incentives – Asking a tenant to complete surveys without remuneration is difficult. Look to contests or prizes to pump up the response rate. Of course, continue the community loop by rewarding winners with gift cards from your local booksellers, coffee shops, and retailers.
  • Limit Surveys to Four Per Year – Survey fatigue plagues many residents, reducing the opportunity for property management to gain quality feedback.
  • Share the Results – Residents want to feel heard and acknowledged. Buzutto, which manages over 80,000 rental units, routinely sends not only surveys, but this email: “You Spoke, We Listened.” Simple, but effective!

Surveys certainly work to glean great information from current residents. Don’t forget to open lines of communication with front-line maintenance workers, concierge employees, or on-site property management who frequently work and engage with residents.

Installing comment card collection centers near your mail room and/or smart lockers also serve as great ways to understand tenant sentiment. We also recommend providing easy-to-find links on your home page, and of course, social media. The golden rule here is “social listening.” Whether it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, it’s important for ideas and complaints never to fall on deaf ears.

3. Make Customer Service and the Tenant Experience a Top Priority

Receiving feedback is critical, but you must also make the duration of the tenant’s lease an exceptional experience. Although office occupancy rates vary significantly from state to state, most employees are now hybrid workers: still working at home and sometimes at the office. Offering a co-working office space, community wi-fi, and outdoor spaces can give a tenant an extra reason to feel satisfied with their rental experience.

Further, even if you already know how to market your apartment complex, you’ll still want to make sure that your apartment marketing includes technology that makes life easy for residents. Maintenance requests, the lease extension or lease renewal process, gym reservations, and pool times should all be conducted via apps or websites. 

4. Reward Loyalty

Resident retention rates are returning to normal and matching statistics similar to 2018, 2019, and 2020. For leases that expired in the first quarter of 2021, 53.7% of households renewed, according to new data from RealPage2. Also of note is that some landlords are considering or returning a good tenant’s security deposits, even in installments, to boost resident retention. 

5. Offer a Flexible Renewal Term

In a recent key survey, 78% of tenants surveyed stated they would remain in their current apartment if they were given a lease renewal offer for a shorter period of time and with no rent increase3. Particularly as residents continue to recover from pandemic-related budget challenges, being open to lease negotiation can benefit a property owner looking to increase resident retention and rental income.

6. Offer Low-Cost Renewal Concessions 

Sometimes, all it takes to get a tenant to sign on the dotted line is an easy and valuable concession. Repainting, recarpeting, replacing blinds, upgrading lighting, or installing ceiling fans not only increases your apartment or rental property value but makes it easier to secure lease renewals.

7. Add Tenant-Requested Amenities to Your Apartment Community

Both online shopping and grocery/food delivery have become a default consumer behavior. The typical tenant expects their packages and other deliveries to be stowed safely and securely.

Installing smart parcel lockers is a big win for property management, as it’s estimated that package lockers can lift leasing renewals by a jaw-dropping 40%! More importantly, it adds to resident satisfaction as a renter can retrieve their packages on their schedule with zero human interaction…and within 10 seconds.

This period of time is tricky for an apartment manager or property manager – particularly with surging Delta variant COVID rates and low unemployment, plus a mismatch between job postings and job hunters. Many current residents are feeling financially insecure and looking for flexibility when renewing their leases. Offering up first-rate service and apartment amenities that create an unforgettable tenant experience are sure-fire paths to resident retention

Sources:

  1. Muzquiz, Isabella. SatisFacts. Power Panels – “Why Should Your Residents Renew?”. (2021, April 20).  https://www.satisfacts.com/power-panels-why-should-your-residents-renew-2/.
  2. Willett, Greg. RealPage. Resident Retention Moves Toward Normal. (2021, April 14).  https://www.realpage.com/analytics/resident-retention-moves-toward-normal/.
  3. Serlin, Christine. Multifamily Executive. Assurant Study Looks at Renters’ Changing Priorities. (2021, April 26).  https://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/property-management/apartment-trends/assurant-study-looks-at-renters-changing-priorities_o.

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