If you have apartments to rent, then you know how important applicants are to your business. But have you ever considered how important your actual tenants are?

Your tenants have friends and family members who might at some point need an apartment and/or those friends and family members have friends and family members and so on and so on...

Keeping tenants happy can be a difficult job, but with a little practice, you might find it easier than you think and you might find that you don't have as many apartments to rent after all.

Let's start with a new lease. This can be a new tenant or a tenant who has signed another years lease. Either way, we are going to treat it as a brand new start for you and your resident.

Send the "new" tenant a Thank You note. Do this within one to two weeks of their signing the new lease. Let them know how much you appreciate them and how happy you and your staff are that they have moved in. If you don't do new move-in gifts, then this is the perfect time to give your new tenant a small gift. This can be something as simple as a calendar, or a canvas bag with your complex name on it (or even a canvas bag from a local grocery store), or even a self-addressed envelopes so they can use them to put their rent checks in...You don't want to go overboard, but you do want them to know that you appreciate their business.

A few months later (about the third month), you will want to give them a call just to say, "Hi" and to see if they need anything and to make sure they are happy with their apartment, their neighbors, etc. This gives you the opportunity to check in and if there are anything problems, you can correct them long before their lease is up.

About six months into their lease, you should send them a survey. This doesn't have to be something very elaborate, just some questions that gives them the chance to let you know how things are going and what they would like changed. Make sure the questions are yes or no type of questions or that give them a box to check how they feel. Don't forget to leave them a space for "optional" comments, but make sure they know that they do not have to fill in the comment section and they do not need to sign the survey if they don't want to. The type of property you have will determine the questions you ask. You might want to ask questions about maintenance requests and if they are happy with the amount of time it takes for the requests to get done and if the maintenance man left the apartment clean, etc. You will also want to ask if they are happy with your services. Do they feel they are being taken seriously when they contact the office, etc. Your questions will want to be things that will help you improve on your customer service.

Closer to the end of their lease (about their 9th month), you can send them a little surprise. This will a combination short note and gift. Something like a small note pad and pen and a little note that says, "In case you're taking notes, we're glad you're here." or you can give them some energy saving light bulbs with a note that says, "You've been a deLIGHT to rent to." Yes these sound corny, but they will bring a smile to your tenant's face and they will let them know that you are still thinking about them.

Now you are at the signing of the new lease...these little tips have paid off and your resident wants to stay where they are...why not give them a special gift just for them but will also benefit your apartment. A ceiling fan - this will make your resident happy and you've added a little extra to their apartment. A free carpet cleaning - this is the one thing that most tenants forget to have done on a regular basis, so if you offer to have it done for them, then you are also benefiting because you are keeping the carpets looking nice.

If you have a lot of leases that are expiring at the same time, then you can hold a contest and everyone that signs a new lease with you will get their name in a drawing to win something bigger...a microwave or a new refrigerator, etc. You can give a first, second and third place prize and then give everyone else a little something also...this can be a magnetic grocery list for their refrigerator or an apple spiced candle with a note that says, "you may not have won the big prize, but you are still the apple of my eye."

I know this sounds like a lot to keep up with and if you have a lot of apartments it can be, but if you get organized before starting this, you will find it is pretty easy to keep up with everyone.

Getting a notebook and creating a chart of sorts, where you just write down every tenant's name and when they moved in and the time frame of things to happen and then you can put a check in a box or mark through the item you have completed. A three ring notebook with dividers that are divided by months will work also. An index card file, a word document or whatever you feel comfortable with will work just as well...

Don't forget to change things up each year. You don't want a resident that is signing their 3rd lease with you to get the same old thing.