How to renew leases in the New Year—without losing your best tenants

Samantha Clark
Samantha Clark | 6 min. read

Published on January 31, 2018

Every property manager knows what it’s like to lose a great tenant once their lease is up. Finding someone new that fits your requirements costs money and takes up valuable time. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could renew your leases and keep the same tenants without issue, year after year?

While many of the reasons why tenants move away are out of your control, it doesn’t hurt to try your best to make your property a great place to live. Their family might be growing; their job may have changed; or they might be ready to buy a home. However, providing an exceptional experience for your tenants won’t make the decision to leave any easier—and in some cases, they might decide to hold off on moving for a few years.

If you have leases that are ending soon, here are some ways to get your tenants to stay put for another year—and create a win-win situation for you both.

7 Tips for Retaining Great Residents

#1: Plan Ahead

Time flies for busy property managers—and before you know it, someone’s lease is coming to an end. Staying on top of your leases’ end dates all year long will help you to be ready in case you need to find a new tenant. Plus, if someone does decide to move out, you’ll want to know early enough to make the process smooth for everyone involved.

When you send out your lease renewal letter, in addition to communicating any updates to your lease agreement, it’s a great time to offer incentives for tenants who choose to renew. For example, you could give long-term residents a gift card or a free month of rent.

#2: Research Before Raising Rents

It’s tricky to balance your desire to hold on to good tenants with your need to get paid the right amount for the properties that you manage. That’s why doing research on market rates for comparable units in your area is so important.

You should always weigh the risks of raising rents before you make a decision. Many tenants will look for a better deal elsewhere if their rent increases. Does the extra money you’d bring in each month justify the costs of refreshing the unit, finding a new tenant, and possibly having the unit lie vacant? Could you raise rents by a smaller amount to keep your tenants and bring in more money?

#3: Consider Allowing Pets

Another thing to think about in the New Year is whether to allow residents to have pets. If you decide to remove pet restrictions, not only could it keep your current residents in place—it could also attract great tenants who you’d otherwise have ruled out.

Since more and more residents are looking to bring home a furry companion, banning pets can make it harder to find the right tenant. You can rely on security deposits to compensate for the increased risk of damage to your units.

#4: Offer Upgrades

Some residents move because they just want a change of scenery. Making simple, cost-effective updates to your rental units can make them feel brand new—and help your residents to feel more at home.

Here are 3 straightforward ways to update your units:

  • Let tenants paint an accent wall in a shade of their choice
  • Change out an old appliance, or add one they don’t already have
  • Replace aging linoleum floors with wood or laminate

#5: Focus on Relationships

Whether you have new or long-term tenants, a critical way to keep them in place is by showing tenants that you care about your relationship.

Here are 3 simple ideas for improving your relationships with residents:

  • Respond to requests quickly
  • Leave welcome kits for new tenants
  • Host seasonal get-togethers

Caring about the resident community you’re creating goes a long way. Everyone wants to feel like they’re a part of something, especially in the place they call home—and you can have a big impact on that as a property manager.

#6: Address Complaints Directly

As the time comes to renew a lease, that’s the perfect time to ask your tenant if there are any issues that they’d like you to address in their unit.

Knowing why your tenant might be planning on leaving will help you to understand how to resolve the problem—or at the very least, what you can learn for next time. This is also a great way to build relationships with your tenants, and to improve as a business owner year after year.

#7: Look After the Property

Promptly taking care of responsibilities like removing snow or cleaning the carpets shows your tenants that you care about maintaining your property. A well-kept community will also make others want to live there.

Do a drive-by on a regular basis to make sure that any debris is picked up and that the exterior of the building looks appealing, and make notes of anything that needs work. Be sure to do the same thing inside your apartment buildings, too.

Other Advice for Renewing Leases

It’s always a good idea to stay up-to-date on any local or state laws that could affect your property. Add them to the lease when you’re ready to renew to avoid any legal troubles down the road.

You should also take a second look at the rules that your lease agreement lays out. With house shares like Airbnb becoming popular, and marijuana becoming legal in many states, you may need to add or update your lease to take these changes into consideration.

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Are you taking the right steps to make your property a great place to live? How do you ensure that your tenants will renew their leases? Let us know in the comments below!

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Samantha Clark

Samantha is a freelance writer who loves to help real estate professionals grow their businesses online. She specializes in writing blog posts about property management, finances, and marketing. Learn more at

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