The Shocking Cost of Resident Turnover

In the world of apartment leasing, residents come and residents go. According to the NAA (National Apartment Association), resident turnover rates average 51% per year.

Here are a few of the main reasons residents choose to move:

  • Rent increase
  • Lack of parking and/or parking controls
  • Loud or disrespectful neighbors
  • Poor maintenance service
  • No sense of community
  • Frequent staff changes
  • Outdated amenities


So how much are all these move-outs costing you? Sticking with the NAA statistic, let’s say you’re a fully occupied 250-unit property with an annual turnover rate of 51%. After factoring in turnover-associated costs such as lost rent, cleaning, painting, maintenance and repair work, advertising and more, you could be spending as much as $3,000 per unit, or a profit-killing $381,000 per year turning 127 units. Ouch!

But here’s the good news. Although some turnover is inevitable, you have more control over move-outs than you might think. Here are a few things you can do to keep residents happy and renewals high.

Make Move-Ins Smooth and Easy
Did you know 30% of move-outs begin with a bad move-in? Retention starts on day one, and you can make a positive first impression by:

Make residents feel welcome from day one.

  •   Going over the lease and presenting keys early on moving day 
  •   Blocking off a few parking spaces in front of the building to make unpacking easier 
  •   Helping new residents carry in a few boxes from the truck  
  •   Showing residents how to operate appliances, program the thermostat, and schedule maintenance 
  •   Giving out contact info in case of problems or concerns 
  •   Providing lunch and a welcome gift 

Improve Curb Appeal
Residents take pride in where they live. If your property’s curb appeal is less than appealing, residents may say no to a renewal and yes to a moving van. Do the following:

  •   Add flowers and greenery to entrances and landscaped areas 
  •   Keep lawn areas mowed, fertilized and free of weeds 
  •   Install outdoor lighting to improve safety and nighttime interest 
  •   Restripe parking spots and patch potholes 
  •   Spruce up building exteriors with new siding or paint 
  •   Pressure wash dirty sidewalks, outdoor furniture and pool decks 


The best properties have a spirit of community and togetherness that makes the apartment complex feel more like home rather than just a place to live.

Create a Sense of Community
It takes more than just great rates and amenities to reduce resident turnover. The best properties have a spirit of community and togetherness that makes the apartment complex feel more like home rather than just a place to live. Build community through:

  • Parties, cookouts and social gatherings 
  • Balcony decorating contests 
  • On-site food truck events  
  • Pub or ice cream socials 
  • Bowling leagues 
  • Community garden 
  • Attending a sporting event as a group 
  • Regularly hosting town hall meetings 


Fix Parking Problems That Drive Residents Away 

Steer clear of these parking no-no’s and get more residents saying “yes” to renewals.

  • Unenforced parking rules. Your property has towing zones and parking permits, right? Residents expect you to enforce compliance. Looking the other way usually sends residents looking for another community. 
  • Residents can’t park close to their building. Use color-coded parking permits to assign spaces and areas. Install signs that clearly identify guest parking areas. Limit the number of vehicles residents can have per unit.  
  • Too many bumps in the road. Potholes and cracked, broken pavement that aren’t quickly fixed are a safety hazard, an eyesore and a lease killer. 

Make residents feel like family. Present a welcome gift on move-in day.

Send Cards and Gifts
Make residents feel like family. Present a welcome gift on move-in day such as a gift basket, gift box or restaurant gift card. Send birthday cards, thank you cards and holiday cards.

Reduce Staff Turnover
Frequent staff changes can hurt retention rates. Residents like to see familiar faces in the leasing office, at community events and at their front door. Having the same team members in place for a long time helps build better relationships and trust with your residents. Keep employees happy by offering competitive salaries, rewarding accomplishments, providing training opportunities and creating a good work/life balance. Conducting an annual staff survey provides insight into the things you’re doing right and areas where improvements can be made.

Make Small Talk
Building rapport with residents is crucial to retention. Take a moment and speak with residents whenever you can – when you’re walking the property, accepting the rent check, scheduling a service call or answering the phone. You’ll come across as likeable and caring, and you may even find out about some little problem before it turns into something bigger.

Resolve Conflicts Quickly
Whether it’s renter vs. leasing agent or resident-on-resident anger, you can turn a potentially bad situation into happier residents and more renewals if you solve problems and handle disagreements quickly and professionally. When conflict bubbles up…

• Be proactive and take action early
• Let residents express their anger and frustrations
• Use empathy statements to show you care
• Offer positive and constructive solutions
• Follow up to ensure the situation has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction

• Minimize or ignore the situation or complaint
• Use anger-triggering words such as can’t, won’t and never
• Make promises you don’t intend to keep
• Lose your temper or get defensive

Retaining residents is good for the community as a whole and for increasing profits. Long-term residents are your best advertising, and these loyal residents will reward your efforts with enthusiastic word of mouth and favorable online reviews. It’s honest and positive publicity that’s 100% free!

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