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A competitive edge can mean anything that an individual or organization does better when weighed against their competitors. In the rental market, the optimal goal is keeping the property rented and receiving a return on the investment.

Rental property that lingers on the market vacant is costing the landlord money. Even without the rental income, the property still requires care, marketing costs continue to rise, property taxes are still due, and a myriad of other expenses must be paid. A competitive edge in the rental market is experienced by those landlords who are able to get their properties rented swiftly, and who have tenants who stay longer.

Following are some techniques that landlords find helpful to successfully keep the competitive edge in the rental market.

1. Communicate with Tenants

Skilled landlords put out extra effort to communicate with their tenants. Some proprietors make a practice of assisting tenants who are getting accustomed to the area by printing out directions to local stores, pharmacies, schools, gyms, and other facilities. A short welcome note promotes an affirmative tenant-landlord relationship and can include contact information for the landlord, cable and utility companies, and specific information for the rental. Address change packets from the post office or address labels can be included for the tenant’s arrival to help ease their transition.

Great landlords provide tenants with multiple phone numbers and an email address to contact them and are accessible to their needs. They respond to tenant phone calls or emails promptly and let the tenants know a time frame when they are going out of town or will not be available for a certain period of time. Good communication with tenants increases the likelihood of them letting a landlord know if something is wrong that needs repair, or if they are thinking of leaving.

2. Maintain Property

Whenever possible, savvy landlords invest in rental properties’ fixtures and features. Quality appliances and décor reflect a higher apartment standard which tenants are proud to show to their families and friends.

Perceptive landlords do not delay responding to maintenance requests, no matter how minor. Squeaky doors or disposal malfunctions irritate tenants daily and shrewd businessmen stay on top of maintenance and repair requests to keep good tenants. Tenants may ask landlords to clean a carpet or repaint a room. Compliance with these simple requests cost much less than a vacancy.

Property maintenance includes ensuring that the premises and tenants are as secure as possible. Proper lighting and cut back landscaping are easy steps to take to improve a property’s security. An attractive property in good repair will encourage tenants to stay or will have others lining up out the door.

3. Professionalism

The most successful landlords respect themselves and their tenants. Appearance, especially near the beginning of a tenant’s residency, matters. Sloppy, disheveled, and disorganized attendance will make a very negative impression on tenants’ expectations and how they treat your property.

Even before the tenants move in, first-rate landlords walk them through the lease review and go over the responsibilities and rights that each party has in signing the lease. All environmental hazards, including lead or mold, are disclosed honestly. Respecting tenants means respecting their right to privacy. Discerning owners give the tenant as much notice as possible, usually 24 hours, when they plan to enter the unit. If problems do arise with tenants, remain calm, be consistent, and follow the guidelines addressed in the lease.

Remarkable landlords attract better tenants. The best competitive edge in the rental market is not letting the property become vacant in the first place.