Good neighbors don’t only exist in sitcom plots or the suburbs of small town U.S.A. Despite close quarters and shared walls, people in multi-family houses, apartment buildings and condo complexes can live in harmony too. In fact, they can even feel a sense of belonging within their building by getting to know one another and having a little fun.
As a condo association or property owner, you can take some simple steps to cultivate a community of good neighbors among your residents. Not only are these steps proactive ways to ward off petty squabbles and tenant disputes, they help reduce tenant turnover. The multi-family market in Washington D.C. is competitive, so ensuring your tenants are happy will prevent them from moving to a competitor once their lease is up.
Steps for a Happy Tenant Community:
- Conduct thorough tenant screenings. In addition to verifying a prospective tenant’s financial circumstances, make sure you check their rental history. Ask for character references, talk to former landlords and find out if they have ever been evicted. This helps ensure you don’t select a tenant who is prone to instigating fights or disrespecting property. But be sure to take measures to familiarize yourself with D.C.’s Fair Housing Law or hire professionals who are well versed in it, so you don’t discriminate or give the appearance of discrimination against any protected classes.
- Hold free social events. It doesn’t take a professional event planner to organize social events for tenants. Start small, spread the word with flyers, and use local surroundings for event ideas. Here are a few examples:
- Keep it simple – Start with easy, inexpensive events that appeal to everyone. Consider activities like ice cream socials, cookouts, pot luck dinners or game nights. If something is a big hit, repeat it the following month.
- Deploy your resources – Does your building have a pool, gym, or internet lounge? What about your tenants? Are there yoga gurus, film buffs or master chefs in your building? Use your facilities to coordinate pool parties, organized workouts, book clubs or movie nights. See if any of your tenants will lend their skills to your cause and plan an event based on what they can teach.
- Get inspired by your surroundings – Washington D.C. has plenty of annual festivals, events and things to do—use them for inspiration. Is your rooftop the perfect vantage point for viewing Fourth of July fireworks? Provide a few refreshments and encourage tenants to gather on the roof and watch. Is your property located close to a local running race course? Organize a group to go and cheer on the runners. The point is, keep up on activities going on in the city and incorporate your events and outings around them.
- Make communal upgrades. A lack of space conducive to hanging out can prevent tenants from socializing. Consider investing in some patio furniture, Adirondack chairs, swings or outdoor benches. If you don’t have the outdoor space, invest in ways to spruce up your lobby or lounge areas and make them look inviting.
The truth is, circumstances out of your control will arise and inevitably cause tenants to move out. However, when tenants feel a connection to their surroundings and their neighbors, they’ll be less likely to sacrifice that rare sense of community for lower rent, a closer commute or the hot new condo down the street.