5 Ways To Keep A Tenant 20 Years

Hey everyone! Spencer Sutton here with gkhouses, and today I want to give you 5 ways to keep a tenant for 20 years.

This information came out of an interview I did with Robert Locke. He used to own Crown Property Management in Atlanta. He explained to me that he had a tenant stay in one of his properties for 20 years. It got him thinking, how do you keep a tenant for 20 years?

Keeping a tenant for 20 years is great for homeowners and investors because you won’t spend as much money on turns. The cash flow is consistent and you get in a flow of how you work with each other, the property manager or the landlord and the tenant.

The longest I’ve ever had a tenant is nine years. She just recently moved out, and then I have another tenant that is going on 10 years.


The first way you can keep a tenant for 20 years is to buy the right house.

And, this may seem very simple, but I talk to investors all the time that are looking to buy houses that are not really suitable for renting.

They believe that they are getting a discount and so they should jump on it. Although, what they believe is a good deal, it more of a price adjustment for an irreconcilable defect.

If you had a house that is on a super busy street, we call that house a white elephant. This is because somebody is not going to give you the same rent for a house on a busy street, then they would for a house on a quiet street. It can be the same house, but the location is so different.

Maybe your house is right next to power lines, has a funky layout, or even a steep driveway. If you are looking at houses with any of these characteristics, don’t buy them.

There is a reason why DR Horton and other national home builders stick to the same few floor plans. They know what people want in a layout. They are normal and everything works really well together.

Anything that sticks out and you can’t ignore it will eventually have to be dealt with. Prospective tenants will be hesitant to rent the house. When they do, they are not going to give you as much money as you will want for the property. And on top of that, they are not likely to be long-term tenants.


Key number two in keeping a tenant 20 years is getting the house in great shape.

We see a lot of investors that want to save money on a rehab. Ultimately, this will hurt you in the long run.

If your house is in great shape, for example,  the walls are painted, clean carpet, updated appliances, modern fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen, you will rent it quickly. Not only that, but someone will want to stay in the property.

Also, I believe curb appeal is something that you can do to help rent that house quickly and for a long time. This can be keeping up lawn care and landscaping.

Now, some owners that we manage like to continue to keep the yard the way they want it. They have their own yard crew that cuts the grass for the tenant or they ask us to do it. This is really up to you, but it is an added perk to the tenant for the owner to be taking care of lawn maintenance.


The third point is, have a very good and well thought-out maintenance response system.

There’s no doubt that things are going to go wrong. There are always going to be issues, especially if you keep a tenant a long time.

It is important to respond to maintenance calls as quick as possible. If you ignore maintenance requests, it is a sign to the tenant that you are not going to take care of them long term. So, when their lease expires they will feel more inclined to look elsewhere.

Communication is key. How are you going to get in touch with your tenant? How are you going to allow them to get in touch with you if something goes wrong?

There’s so many different ways that we can communicate nowadays, but you need to have a maintenance response system in place. This will show the tenant you care.


Number four to keeping a tenant 20 years is to recognize that you are now in the customer service business.

There is a temptation to think of the house as your asset and your tenant as an ATM. In reality property management focuses on customer service.

The more you realize that, the more you treat your tenant as a customer. You are providing a service and you want to keep them happy. The more you see them that way, the better your relationship will be.

Now, this doesn’t mean you do absolutely everything a tenant asks for. It does mean you recognize it and take it to heart. You should try to give them the best service possible.


My fifth key for keeping a tenant 20 years is to simply celebrate the tenant.

As I mentioned earlier, I spoke to Robert Locke about this. This is something that his company did well. We started to adopt some of these qualities at gkhouses. Writing notes to tenants just telling them that we appreciate them. We would also sometimes stick in gift certificates to Starbucks or Amazon. A handwritten note can go a long way.

If you have one property with one tenant, you can be very specific. For example, write about a milestone and give them a gift card. You could write to them for the one-year anniversary or for handling a certain situation well.

The more you appreciate your tenant, the more they will remember it and they probably won’t want to move.

Those are the 5 ways to keep a tenant for 20 years.

You can probably think of some more, but those are five really big ones to keep in mind. If you follow these you will more than likely have a great relationship with your tenant.

Try and think of some creative ways to keep a tenant as long as possible. If you think of any, send them to us! We would love to hear about how you think you can keep a tenant for 2 years.

That’s all I have for you today. Thanks so much.