When looking at the top reasons a resident chooses not to renew their lease, there are no real surprises: rent increase, parking, neighbors, or apartment features such as appliances, carpeting or cabinets are all some usual suspects. But after evaluating the top five reasons, the top ten, and even the top twenty reasons in the just released 2014 SatisFacts Index, a pattern emerges. When a resident chooses to start looking elsewhere for a place to call home, the reasons fall into four main categories:
Let’s be real. No resident is truly shocked when they receive a lease renewal notice with a rent increase. Renters are conditioned to expect some kind of increase every year. The truth is that it’s not the dollars that get the resident riled up, it’s what they feel they are getting (or not getting) for those dollars. A $10 increase may as well be a $1000 increase if no one ever picks up the phone at the leasing office or it takes a week to get a routine service request completed. Serving the resident as though they are a member of an exclusive club rather than just a paying customer increases the value of their home exponentially.
Think of the reasons why you like to take your friends to your “favorite” restaurant. Yes, it may have that divine dish, but when you really think about it, is the Southwest Chicken Chopped Salad honestly enough to bring you back again and again? Or is it the way your favorite server lights up when they see you, how they ask about your family, tell you a funny story and know your “usual” before you even have to say it? Residents want to feel confident that when something is promised, it will be delivered, and that every team member they encounter will be happy to help with anything they need. Even more, if team members can create relationships
as the “Go-To” person for their residents, that confidence and comfort level will skyrocket. (“I don’t want to explain the crazy cat lady situation AGAIN! I just want
to speak with Sue. She knows the history and can tell me what we do now.”)
This is their home. They want to feel comfortable. They want to have pride in where they live. So, if a resident has lived there for more than 5 years and the carpet was already a few years old when they moved in, offer to replace it! You’re going to replace it if they move out anyway. Why not just make the effort and reinforce that pride? Are you rehabbing the property, but it’s going to be awhile until you get to a long-term resident’s home? Why not at least upgrade something simple in the mean time? Maybe the bathroom light fixtures? Tear out those Hollywood lights, put in some cans. Is the oven ancient and continually needing service? Again, you’d replace it during a turn anyway, so why not replace it now and show the resident you care about their comfort and their residency!
If it’s difficult to be a customer, most people will move on to where it’s easier. If noise issues or recurring pests are consistent problems, drop what you’re doing and fix it. When a resident signed their first lease with you, they were promising to abide by the rules of the community and pay their rent on time. In return, they understood that the community would provide consistent and responsive service. No one wants to have to leave three voice messages and send 5 emails in order to get a response to a question or ensure a service request will be addressed. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Resident portals with online service requests, online
rent payments or extended office hours a couple of nights a week to accommodate a population who is working later and later hours – these are relatively easy adjustments that make life so much more convenient for residents.
When it comes to reasons for not renewing, more than two-thirds of those reasons are things the community team can influence. It’s a matter of thinking in terms of what matters most to residents and being willing to make it worth their hard earned dollars to stay.