signs your tenant is going to leave
I have had many people ask me about signs their tenant is going to leave. I usually get asked when it is too late.
For example: a tenant might ask a landlord or property manager something like:
How much notice do I have to give to get out of my lease?
Can I use you as a referance for an apartment I am looking at?
The big question I ask to landlords and property managers is, what are you doing to proactively keep your tenants?
In my opinion tenants rent for location and lifestyle first, then the unit / building, then the landlord / property manager.
for example if you have a run down property with crappy management, but you are located on the campus of a major university with limited housing options, you will likely be always full and be collecting maximum rent.
One of our observations based on tenant profile, will indicate how long you will keep a tenant right from the start.
I would say the average time a tenant will stay in a property is 2.5 years.
If they are moving to the area with a family to take a job and establish themselves in a community, they will likely rent for about 1.5 years, before they buy a house.
If you have elderly tenants, that time frame could be longer.
If you rent a single family home to an established family, that could also be longer.
If you are targeting professors or mature students, your average tenancy maybe shorter. It could be as short as a 4 month fixed term.
If you are doing group leases to 4 or more students on an annual basis, you will likely turn the unit over once per year, unless you are lucky to find a group willing to live together for more than one year.
So, what are some other reasons tenants will leave seemingly without reason.
Let’s not forget, people are polite by nature and do not like confrontation. This means, most people will not come out and tell you they are starting to look around.
You need to think proactively,
Ask yourself these questions:
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Are your properties in good condition?
Do you respond quickly to solve maintenance issues or other tenant concerns?
Are you charging the correct amount of rent?
Do you provide good value to your tenants?
Are your properties properly managed?
Do your current tenants have a history of being long term tenants at previous places they have lived?
Do your current tenants have a history of short tenancy at previous addresses?
Do you rent to young professionals, that have the ability to buy a house, instead of renting?
What is the real estate market like in your area, such as: Is it a good climate to buy instead of rent? Are housing prices high, making it difficult for people to buy? Are housing prices low and rent is comparitively high, making it better to buy instead of rent?
Is there a culture in your area, that encourages people to buy homes, instead of renting (this is the culture in Canada and the USA)? It is considered a good idea and a natural thing to do as a family.
Are there newer or renovated properties in your area charging the same amount of rent?
That ends the self reflection portion of the post, now let’s dig into some signs, some are subtle, some are not.
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Your tenant asks you how much notice they need to give, to get out of their lease?
Your tenant asks if they can use you as a reference for an apartment they are looking at?
Your tenant is not getting along with your superitendent or property manager.
Your tenant is not getting along with one or more other residents in the building?
You notice that your tenant has a boyfriend / girlfriend staying with them a lot?
You notice that your tenant is not staying in their place, and it is becoming an expensive closet for them?
Your tenant asks if they can have a pet and you do not allow it, due to a no pet policy.
Your tenant asks for a rent consession due to a change in income level or job loss.
Your tenant asks for a change in the amount of tenants in the apartment, such as wanting to add a couple of roommates.
Your tenant asks for several renovations, and you do not agree to them?
Your tenant tells you in casual conversation about a sick close realative they wished they lived closer to, so they could care for them.
You notice your tenant is having trouble walking us and down stairs to get to their walk up apartment.
Your tenant buys a car, yet the apartment they are renting does not have parking.
Your tenants buy a second car, and ask for a second parking spot, that is unfortunately not available.
Your tenants complain about the cost of utilities in the unit they are renting from you.
Your tenant complains continuously about the condition of the apartment they are renting from you?
Your tenant asks for updates to the apartment they are renting, and you tell them you are unable to afford any renovations at this time.
Your tenant asks you if you have any larger / smaller units available.
Your tenant asks you if you have units available in a different area.
Your tenant tells you about a new job they accepted in another area.
Your tenants have a family status change, such as having a child and they are living in a small apartment.
Your tenant asks you what is required as a downpayment to purchase a house.
Your tenant asks you to address a noise complaint, and you decide you do not want to get confrontational with the other tenant, so you do not take action.
You are slow to repair maintenance issues, and your tenant needs to call you several times to have a problem fixed.
Those are likely not all the signs, but I feel I touched on most of them.
If you want even more information of tenant retention, make sure to get a copy of our book:
Click here – Landlord by Design – Complete guide to residential property management