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14 Property Management Incentive Program Ideas to Retain Residents

As a property manager, you undoubtedly recognize that turning over a unit has a significant price tag – from cleaning to marketing to maintenance costs (especially in current market conditions). To retain residents, here are 14 key property management incentive ideas to keep your residents in place.

The Details of Incentives

With an average tenant retention rate of just 58% and a cost of $4,000 to replace just one resident, you earn a positive return on your investment by convincing residents to stay1. Don’t forget: your incentive plan objective is to convince good tenants who are on the fence why they should stay and renew, not to subsidize existing brand loyal residents.

#1 Offer a Cash Reward

A recent study found that 52% of residents prefer incentives in the form of cash flow or a spendable rewards2. In short: cash is king.

#2 Add Smart Lockers as a Lease Renewal Incentive

Online shopping and grocery and restaurant delivery are now a permanent part of how consumers order and acquire goods. Residents today expect their packages to be stowed safely and securely.

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

To learn more about how IoT is transforming property management, check out our related blog post

#3 Propose a Temporary Rent Deduction

The keyword here is “temporary.” Property management companies with successful financial incentive programs often limit the rent reduction for a rental property to three months of the resident’s lease agreement. 26-35 year-olds are the demographic most likely to continue renting if they receive a discount3.

#4 Schedule an Upgrade

Many incentive options are at your fingertips: carpet cleaning or replacement, fresh paint, new flooring, new fixtures, and new appliances are all options.

#5 Propose Free or Discounted Parking

Depending upon your city and the cost of real estate, parking is as difficult as earning a gold medal or as plentiful as air. Free, discounted, or even covered parking is often an attractive incentive

#6 Give the Gift of Clean

With hybrid work the new reality, many residents appreciate the joy of someone undertaking a deep clean of their residence. You have the option of making it a one-time event or offering a cleaning service for a limited time. 

#7 Embrace Subscription Gift Boxes

The subscription model is exploding! It’s currently a $650 billion industry, and UBS predicts it will skyrocket to $1.5 trillion by 20254. From food boxes to prepared meals,razors,coffee,and make-up, there’s at least one gift box option to give to every tenant from their property management team.

#8 Serve Up a Renewal Menu

Residents adore this strategy as it recognizes that every renter is different. This menu includes everything from upgrades to dinner gift certificates to theater tickets.

#9 Package Up Internet & TV Options

Many property managers receive bundled discounts from their corporate parent. Try passing on these discounts to residents.

#10 Implement a Referral Program

Based on the “birds of a feather flock together” theory, you can ask your good tenants to refer other quality residents to your property. Ensure there’s an easy-to-understand rewards program in the form of cash or a gift card.

#11 Offer Flexible Rental Terms

In a recent key survey, 78% of residents surveyed stated they would remain in their current apartment if they were given the opportunity to renew their lease for a shorter period of time and with no monthly payment increase5.

#12 Reward Loyalty

Tenant 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 RealPage6. Also of note is that some property owners are returning loyal residents’ security deposits, even in installments, to boost resident retention. 

#13 Provide Feedback Opportunities

Surveys are an excellent 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 savvy property managers invest the most time looking for informal suggestions for improvement in their apartments.

Remain Aware of Timing

Key events should trigger a survey including apartment move-in date, maintenance repair, upcoming lease renewal date, and move-out date. For example, remember to send a feedback response approximately two weeks after residents have moved in so that they can reasonably be expected to find the time to complete it.

Offer Survey Incentives

Asking residents to complete surveys without remuneration is difficult. Look to contests or prizes to pump up the response rate. Of course, continue the community support 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 managers 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.”

Surveys certainly work to glean valuable information from residents. Don’t forget to also open up the communication lines with front-line maintenance workers, concierge employees, or on-site property managers who also take the pulse of residents.

Installing comment card collection centers near your mailroom and smart lockers also serves as a great way to understand tenant sentiment. Don’t forget to provide easy-to-find links on your home page and social media accounts. 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.

#14 Deliver Welcome Baskets via Smart Lockers

Engage your residents and thank them for being a tenant from the get-go. A sample basket from local businesses is particularly relevant. Remember, the more residents feel like your rental is truly home, the longer they will be inclined to stay.


In our ever-changing world, where it seems as if prices are getting higher and customer service quality is trending lower, the best property management tip for retaining residents is fostering a positive relationship. By offering incentives and keeping the lines of communication open, you reap the rewards of having loyal, engaged, and happy residents. 

Sources:

  1. ZeGo. 3 surprising trends about multifamily unit turnover. (n.d.). https://www.gozego.com/articles/multifamily-unit-turnover/
  2. Zillow. 5 Budget-Friendly Resident Renewal Incentives. (n.d.). https://www.zillow.com/multifamily-knowledge-center/property-management/five-resident-renewal-incentives/
  3. Short, Taylor. Software Advice. Survey Reveals Tenant Incentives That Really Work. (2016, April 26). https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/survey-reveals-4-tenant-incentives-that-really-work/
  4. Long, Heather & Van Dam, Andrew. The Washington Post. Everything’s becoming a subscription, and the pandemic is partly to blame. (2021, June 1). https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/01/subscription-boom-pandemic/
  5. 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
  6. Willett, Greg. RealPage. Resident Retention Moves Toward Normal. (2021, April 14). https://www.realpage.com/analytics/resident-retention-moves-toward-normal/

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