The UK Build to Rent (BTR) sector is continuing to grow at pace, with the number of developments under construction rising 10% between 2019 and 2021, meaning there’s never been a better time for tenants searching for a place to live, with a wide range of options available. However, whilst many operators are choosing to invest in providing best-in-class amenities for their new tenants to enjoy, what else can they be doing to ensure they keep tenants renewing year after year?
In our latest blog, we look at the role tenant engagement can play in retaining both your tenants and staff.
Tenant expectations now go far beyond the four walls in which they live. Although, still an important factor in attracting tenants, amenities like pools and gyms, are no longer seen as such a strong differentiator, with many BTR operators now providing a whole host of amenities and services. The focus has shifted to the lifestyle the development can offer, placing a greater emphasis on convenience, connections, and meaningful living experiences.
Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a tenant has within their building, the more likely they are to renew their tenancy. Without any friends living in their community, tenants only have a 29% chance of renewing. That number jumps to 38% if they have 1-3 friends, and if they have 7 or more friends, there’s a 47% likelihood that they’ll renew.
Despite social distancing, those developments using tenant portals still managed to allow friendships between neighbours to blossom. From online supper clubs to fitness and wellbeing events, tenant portals such as Spike Living have kept communities engaged and informed, and enabled tenants to find like-minded people who share similar interests. We’ve seen conversations on sharing food, how to entertain kids, tenants offering to deliver toilet roll and baked goods, or pick-up shopping – you name it! Tenant portals that have been created exclusively for building occupants also offer a better alternative to groups on Facebook or Nextdoor, which tend to be infiltrated by spammers and strangers.
Additionally, tenant portals can provide a much-needed lifeline to the local high street, whereby tenants are encouraged to use the services available to them on their doorstep. For instance, Spike Living enables developments to offer tenants a guide to all the places around them, and by partnering with local businesses, can offer exclusive discounts, encouraging tenants to fall in love with their independent chains.
It’s also proven that tenants who are engaged with their local community are often happier than those who are not and tend to post positive reviews about where they live on review sites such as HomeViews. According to a study by Apartments.com, 98% of apartment shoppers rely on reviews and ratings when looking for their next home, and 79% of respondents to NMHC’s Apartment Resident Preferences Report said that during an apartment hunt, they didn’t visit a development solely because the ratings and reviews were not favourable. These reviews can help attract new tenants keeping occupancy rates high and having tenants as champions is an effective tactic if you want to increase interest in your development, whilst reducing your marketing spend.
Your onsite and front-of-house teams can also play an important role in helping to build that community feeling. No one likes constant change, so if you have high staff turnover, with familiar faces disappearing, this can certainly have a negative impact on tenant satisfaction, making it hard for them to build rapport.
Therefore, by providing your teams with technology solutions that enable them to do their jobs more effectively, not only does this have a positive impact on their performance but also increases their overall satisfaction, making it more likely that you’ll retain them.
For instance, Spike Living can provide your staff with a centralised place to manage all tenant communication, amenity bookings, parcel deliveries as well as maintenance requests, saving precious time and allowing them to focus on the job at hand, and avoiding unnecessary stress and complication to what can be an already challenging job.
Tenant portals can also free up staff by enabling tenants to self-serve. From frequently asked questions, appliance guides, to fire safety procedures, as well as the latest news from the wider community, having all this information readily available means that more often or not, tenants can find the information they need themselves, whenever they need it. The Samanage State of Workplace Survey found that workers spend an average of 520 hours a year on repetitive services and tasks that could be easily automated. Reminding tenants when their rent is due, when deliveries are ready to be collected from reception or providing building updates are just some of the tasks that tenant portals like Spike Living can take care of.
In Summary, BTR operators must start to place greater emphasis on building a community rather than solely focusing on the buildings themselves, where tenants can truly form meaningful connections with neighbours and staff alike, something that tenant portals such as Spike Living can help with.
Learn how Spike is working with a growing number of clients to drive tenant engagement and satisfaction by downloading our brochure below.