Why are your tenants moving?

The results of Just Property’s survey of tenants are in, and landlords and letting agents are in for an eye opener.

Just Property recently conducted a national survey of tenants beyond their existing client base. More than 2 600 responses were received and the insights they presented are invaluable to landlords wanting to retain or attract great tenants.

Responses show that of this cohort, the majority (31%) paid less than R4 000 rent a month, 14.8% pay from R4000 – R4 999, 16.5% have rentals between R5 000 and R5 999, and 12.3% pay R6000 to R6 999.  33% of respondents live in Gauteng, 25.5% in the Free State, and 20.9% in KwaZulu-Natal, with the percentage of residents in other provinces lower than that.

Tenants move – a lot

Of those surveyed, 40.8% had moved twice or more in the past three years and 37.3% had moved in the last year. Only 21.8% had not moved to a new residence in the past three years.

Why are so many tenants moving so often? “Better accommodation” was the most frequent reason given for moving (44.7%), followed by “rent was too expensive” (32.4%). This was borne out by the majority scoring “value for money” of their current rent a median 3, with the next highest score given being a 5 (with 1 being not satisfied, and 5 being extremely satisfied).

“Change in family size” was given as motivation to move by 25.4%, with “better security” at 29.6%.

The financial position of tenants is not something that landlords can control but there are other factors influencing why tenants move that they can manage: while “poor neighbour relations” compelled only 8.8% of tenants to move, “poor landlord relations” were cited by 21.8%, with “poor service from managing agent” being given as a reason by 13% of respondents.

When asked to rate the importance of various factors, “safety and security” came out tops, followed by “neighbourhood”, “move in ready” and “proximity to schools/work”. This provides insights that can help landlords determine the appeal of their rental properties.

Value and service matter

According to respondents, queries were most frequently made directly with landlords (64.1%). Only 21.5% direct their queries to agents, with 14.4% dealing with both their agent and landlord.

When asked to rate their relationship with their agents, 17% of tenants who responded chose “excellent”. When asked to rate their relationship with their landlords, less than 30% chose “excellent”. These numbers present an opportunity for managing agents and landlords alike; better relations lead to better tenant retention.

“The takeouts from these results should give pause for thought,” says Just Property CEO Paul Stevens. “Clearly, for this cohort, value and service are important.”

“The highest expectation of landlords and agents was that repairs and maintenance be seen to timeously (88.7%); ‘advance warning of contractors or visits, for example’ was the second-most important expectation, and 67% of respondents wanted regular communication. Taking these answers into account, our tenants are clearly showing us where their landlords and agents have let them down.”

Opportunities exist

Stevens notes that 64.1% of tenants indicated that they would like to buy a property in the next two years.  This makes it worthwhile for agents to look after tenants.  “When those tenants reach the point where they want to buy, we have a client we know well,” he says.

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