people packing moving boxes
Resources 6 renter incentives that don’t break the bank

6 renter incentives that don’t break the bank

By the editorial team at Story by J.P. Morgan

It’s no secret that multifamily rental markets have struggled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly in urban areas.

With many property owners’ cash flow stretched thin, not all can afford to offer prospective tenants a couple months’ free rent or waive the security deposit.

For this reason, owners across the country are turning to out-of-the-box incentives to fill vacancies. When marketed effectively, these perks can help lock in great tenants — and keep them renting for years to come.

1. Mow the lawn

lawn mower on gras

Scott Rodgers is a realtor who’s been a landlord in the Denver area for two decades. 

In Rodgers’ experience, if you’ve got a property with a lawn in front of it, offering to mow it can make a huge impact for busy residents.

“It may attract a great tenant who doesn’t want to mow the lawn — like someone who travels a lot for business or a senior citizen on a fixed income,” he says.

If you’re concerned about landscaping costs, you can always handle the work yourself.

“Pay yourself and mow the lawn,” Rodgers says. “It gives you an opportunity to look after your investment, and you get a better lawn that doesn’t look like a distressed rental.”

2. Be flexible at the end of a lease

If a tenant is in good standing and needs to move out for a good reason, why not be flexible?

That’s according to Jeff Shipwash, a landlord and owner of Shipwash Properties, a real estate investment company in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

So long as a tenant is in good standing and has a legitimate reason for moving, you might want to consider a creative way to remove the penalty.

“We typically offer to discount the lease buyout by 50% with a 90-day notice and 25% with a 60-day notice,” Shipwash says. 

You don’t have to stop there.

“We waive the buyout completely for someone who is leaving to become a new homeowner,” Shipwash says. “This has been greatly appreciated by our past tenants, and those tenants have referred people to us because of that.”

3. Cover water expenses

hands washing strawberries

Because the water bill is tied to the property and not the tenant, Rodgers advises including water in leases.

“I know I’m not getting stuck with a large bill after the lease, especially if the deposit is paid back prior to receiving the bill,” he says.

Being responsible for the water bill also gives you more insight into your property.

“If the bill is high, it may also indicate an issue — like a leaking toilet or plumbing problem.” 

4. Rethink parking

If your property offers parking in an open lot, you can reserve spots for tenants based on proximity to their unit. 

That suggestion comes from Jonas Bordo, the founder and CEO of rental search platform Dwellsy and a former property owner in Chicago. 

“It’s hugely valuable to the resident and costs nearly nothing,” Bordo says.

5. Let tenants choose paint colors

hand painting a yellow wall

Many multifamily operators have established relationships with painters. You might be able to convince someone to sign a lease by offering to have an accent wall painted in a color of their choosing.

“It makes the rental feel custom and more comfortable for the renter at a low cost,” Bordo says.

6. Allow early move-ins

If you don’t really need to have tenants wait until the first of the month to move in, why not be flexible?

According to Shipwash, letting tenants move in a couple of days early can be an influencing factor for a lease.

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