Surveying your tenants is a great way to gauge how you're doing as a landlord, as well as pinpoint any areas that need improvement. It can also do a lot for tenant satisfaction, helping them feel heard, seen, and valued (maybe even helping retention efforts, too).
But surveying your renters is somewhat of an art form. For best results, you'll need to ask the right questions, not to mention time the survey properly and issue it so it's convenient and hassle-free to complete.
Want to successfully solicit feedback from your tenants? Here's what you need to know.
When to survey your tenants
Always survey renters at the end of their lease, whether they're renewing or moving out. If they're moving out, your best bet is to wait until after they've left the property (moving can be a pain!). Think about offering some sort of incentive -- maybe a small gift card. Since they're not returning to the property, they may need a little motivation to participate.
You can also survey mid-lease, but you may not get the most honest answers this way -- especially if they still have a while left on the property. If you do go this route, make sure you survey across all your units, and let the answers be anonymous. This will encourage renters to be as candid as possible.
What to ask
You'll want to ask tenants about the different segments of their rental experience, including when they initially applied for and leased the unit, the move-in process, the rent payment and repairs process, their interactions with you and your staff, and finally, the property itself.
Here are some topics you'll definitely want to cover:
- The ease of the application and leasing process.
- The state of common areas, parking lots, community amenities, and the renter's individual unit.
- Their experience with submitting work orders, maintenance requests, etc.
- Their interactions with you and other staff members, as well as the staff's friendliness, responsiveness, and communication style.
You want to be thorough here, but remember: The longer your survey is, the less likely tenants are to complete it.
How to issue the survey
A digital survey is the easiest option for tenants, as they can complete it on their phone or even while commuting to work. You can use an actual survey platform (SurveyMonkey (NASDAQ: SVMK), for example) or just create your own Google form. Simply email or text the tenant the survey link and request their input.
To increase your completion rate, consider avoiding open-ended questions, which typically take longer to complete. Instead, have tenants answer on a one-to-10 scale for each question (or a "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree" scale) and leave a spot for "other" feedback or complaints at the end. That's where renters can elaborate a bit more if they want to.
The bottom line
Surveys can help you get a pulse on how you're doing as a landlord, as well as what you can do better down the line. Just make sure tenants feel safe in filling them out, and try to make them as short and convenient as possible.