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Retain Residents with these Budget-Friendly Incentives

In: Residents


With moving season almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about resident retention. I put my property manager hat back on to provide you with some yes-I-want-to-stay ideas fitting for a variety of community types. And they won’t break the bank! 

But before we talk incentives, let me first say that I’m a firm believer in making sure your house (or in this case, community) is in order before you start offering incentives. For example, if maintenance requests haven’t been fulfilled, if the community isn’t tidy or if service has been lacking, no amount of incentives will entice residents to stay. 

With that said, I suggest first triple-checking maintenance orders to be sure all have been completed. Then, schedule a preventative maintenance visit as an “anniversary” check-in. Your maintenance team can check for any issues (e.g., plumbing leaks or noticeable appliance problems) and perform service on broken/missing items (e.g., dirty air filters, burned out bulbs). If you notice that the carpet needs cleaned or replaced or the paint is in dire need of a fresh coat, you can offer those services as part of your renewal outreach. 

Now … on to the incentives. 

Service Extra 

Provide services you already offer as a complimentary extra to residents who decide to stay. For example: 

  • A discount on on-premise garages or a reserved parking spot  
  • Free cable (you might already be receiving a discount for new resident referrals or you might offer cable to your community at a charge) 
  • A free gym membership  
  • Free or discounted WiFi (you may already be providing WiFi to your entire complex; offer it at a discount, or maybe now is the time to look into offering it to the entire community) 


Offer a new [fill in the blank]. Homeowners of course have the ability to change fixtures and update décor at will but remember: renters are at your behest. You know best what type of upgrade would wow the resident and flow with the style of the unit, but here are a few of my favorites: 

  • Ceiling fan or light fixture 
  • Paint an accent wall (provide them 1-3 color options so that it truly feels personal to them, but will still vibe with the overall look and feel of the unit) 
  • Smart thermostat 

Personalized Goodies 

Have you ever taken gift incentives to the next level with personalization? Think about how much more impactful a gift card, pre-paid subscription box or free service would be if it completely suited them. That way the dog lover receives the Bark Box, the fitness enthusiast gets the Lululemon gift card and the tidy tenant is thrilled about the mobile car detail. If you don’t already know the resident(s) who is moving out, uncover their favorites via one of these ways: 

  • As you schedule the anniversary maintenance check-in, call or email them a few questions. 
  • Or, related to the above, have your maintenance tech leave a short questionnaire during that visit for them to fill out and drop at the leasing office. 
  • If you have a portal, send them a message to ask. 

Written by Kari Guillette

Kari has a vast knowledge of the multi-family industry after working for her entire career in property management. She worked onsite as a community manager and transitioned to regional managers roles all before she switched to the supplier side. That background gives her intimate knowledge of the struggles of onsite staff that help her better solve for therir needs.

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