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Why should we care about tenant retention in an increasingly strong rental market

Industry Insight May 29th, 2015
Why should we care about tenant retention in an increasingly strong rental market

At Arthur we believe tenants are customers and keeping customers is paramount to good business practice.

As a part time landlord and a co-founder of Arthur I used to look at renting out my properties as doing the tenant a favour. So any issues raised or complaints made was seen by me as an irritation. Especially if I was on holiday and that call or text came through with a problem. As my portfolio grew I soon realised that I was in fact running another business that could not just rely on capital growth as the raison d’aitre. Besides I was not a seller so growth was only a factor when my refinancing came up.

Being in business all my life I knew that my growing portfolio was taking on a life of its own and without the correct business principals in place I was facing a headache. I started to look at tenants as customers and see things from their point of view.

Tenants paid my bills and if they left I would be faced with voids, refurbishments and agency fees. So how best could I improve my tenant retention? And while on holiday continue to be on top of things? I looked at all the things tenants would get frustrated about. I interviewed a few of my tenants and asked them not to hold back. Here are some of the comments.

“You take a day or so to get back to me”

“You never tell me what`s happening”

“Your quick enough to contact me when my rents late”

“Your workmen are very unreliable- He said he was coming back and didn’t and when I called you, you told me he finished the job”

“I asked for a copy of my contract and it took you 3 weeks”

Get the picture!!

The question that faced me was how I could make this better? Was there some technology that could help?

I looked around for a while and realised that what existed was largely centred on finance and things expiring. Whilst important they did not address my problems and that of my tenants.

By 2012 smartphones and apps were well under way but still no property management technology that fitted the bill. So together with three other part time professional landlords we set about looking at whether we could design a platform that could address three basic requirements

  1. Give the tenants what they needed
  2. Be portable
  3. Make our working lives easier, and operates even when we were on holiday.

If we could develop a platform that linked everyone involved in managing a tenancy together (management, tenant, contractor, agent and owner) along with a clever piece of software that carried out instructions on our behalf and was mobile enough for a phone, we would be close to management nirvana.

In 2014 Arthur was released to the general public. In Arthur I had a mate that allowed me to:

  1. Run things from my mobile when I needed to
  2. Give my tenant’s access to data and the ability to raise and track an issue
  3. Give my contractors everything they needed to get the job done and keep me and my tenants informed
  4. And above all be clever enough to send correspondence to those that needed it on my behalf.

With Arthur, I have found tenant retention has improved substantially over the years. Whilst some of that may be attributed to a change in my attitude I believe that good technology has been the overriding determining factor.

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