As a property investor in D.C., few things take a bigger bite out of your profits than a vacant property. Renters move in and out in cycles, of course—and some turnover is inevitable. However, shortening your vacancy cycles is one of the keys to successful rental property business, especially when you own a desirable rowhome or condo in our nation's capital!
That being said, the more properties you own, the more work it takes to keep them occupied. Managing these tasks within the expectations of a community structure is especially challenging. Each community has unique rules that govern their operation, and working with professional property management, D.C. investors, is one way to reduce turnover time and keep your residents.
These are some of our tried-and-true strategies for shortening vacancy cycles in the D.C. area.
Work to Increase Renter Retention
Keeping the renters you have is infinitely easier (and less expensive) than finding new ones. Rather than trying to fill vacancies, you're better off doing everything you can to keep the renters who already live in your D.C. rowhomes or condos. Here's how to work on improving renter retention.
Raise Rent in Appropriate Increments
There are times when raising the rent is a necessary part of preserving property values and matching D.C. rental market rates, but be careful to do it the right way to avoid warding off renters.
- Stipulate in your lease agreement how much and how often the rent will increase, so your renters won't be caught off-guard.
- It's generally best to increase the rent in slow, steady increments instead of a rapid jump greater than three to five percent.
Slow and steady always wins the race when it comes to a rental rate increase: avoid 'sticker shock' and try to keep your increase around the 3% mark.
Keep up With Maintenance and Repairs
Keeping your residents happy is key to avoiding vacancies, and staying on top of maintenance and repairs is one of the best ways to make sure your residents are satisfied and comfortable in their homes.
Slacking on maintenance can hasten the departure of valued renters—and worse still, can earn you a reputation that causes prospective renters to shy away. After all, who wants to live in a poorly-maintained property? Failing to maintain your property when it is part of a community association can also cost you in fines and warnings, so it's in your best interest not to fall behind.
If managing maintenance within a community structure is a drain on your time and resources, working with property management D.C. offers that also has experience handling maintenance services for an association can greatly benefit you.
Focus on Communication
- A healthy working relationship with your residents rests on good communication.
- Keep your business relationship with renters respectful and professional, but keep yourself approachable.
- Offer open communication, and encourage your residents to feel like they can always come to you with questions or concerns.
Remember, too, that everyone has their own communication style: some residents might welcome frequent contact—others will prefer to be left alone unless there's something crucial they need to know.
Start Lease Renewals Earlier
- Many D.C. property owners don't start talking to their renters about renewing their lease until that lease is almost set to expire.
- They probably have no idea how many renters they're losing by making this mistake: it's to your advantage to start the lease renewal process earlier.
- You should drop it on your residents' radar at lease three months before their lease term is set to end.
By starting the conversation sooner, you'll increase the likelihood that your residents will renew.
Work With a Great Property Management Company
When you own rowhomes for rent or condos in D.C., one of the best ways to minimize vacancies is to work with a professional property management company that has experience working with community associations and boards.
When you hire the best property management D.C. has to offer, you get the advantage of years of experience and the resources to effectively market, maintain, and manage your rental property. A few other things to know about property management:
- Their revenue depends on keeping fantastic renters. Essentially, they don’t get paid when your property isn’t leased, so it's in their best interest—as well as yours—to lease it quickly with an excellent new renter.
- When a resident moves out, property managers have the resources to find a new one faster. That includes a marketing team with the skills to write a great listing, professionally photograph your property, and target your ideal renter.
- Professional property managers have a thorough screening process that weeds out problem renters and selects residents who are likely to stay longer and pay their rent on time.
Screening your future residents is crucial within a community structure: a 'Professional Tenant' can ruin more than your property—they can put you at the mercy of your board as well!
Learn More About Your Options
Knowledge is power: The more you can learn about retaining renters and shortening vacancy cycles, the better off you'll be as a property owner. At EJF Real Estate Services, we're committed to not only providing industry-leading property management services but also providing information to help you succeed—whether you choose to work with us or not!
We understand how powerful experienced property management can be for D.C. investors. That's why we suggest your next investment should be in a trustworthy property management partner! However, how can you find the best of the best in the D.C. rental market?
Begin with our Guide to Finding the Best Property Management Professional in Washington D.C.!