Top 9 Reasons Tenants Move Out of a Rental

Learn Why Good Tenants Leave

A good tenant moving
••• Gary Burchell/Taxi/Getty Images

There are many reasons tenants may decide to relocate. However, good landlords recognize the value of good tenants in their rental properties and do their best to retain them. Here are the top nine reasons a good tenant may leave and tips to avoid a vacancy at your property.

1. Too Expensive

Tenants may decide to move when an apartment becomes too expensive. Income may drop due to a job loss or expenses may go up due to adding a family member. They may also just have a desire to start saving more. 

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Offer Relocation:

If you manage multiple rental units, you can offer to let the tenant move into a cheaper apartment if you have another vacancy available. This way, you can still keep a good tenant and will only have to fill one vacancy instead of two.

  • Reduce Rent:

Another viable option may be to offer to reduce the tenant's monthly rent. If reducing rent by $50 dollars a month will get the tenant to stay, it may be worth it -- you may well spend more trying to fill the vacancy.

2. Need More Space

Tenants may choose to relocate because they are looking for a rental with more space. Marriage, childbirth, pet adoption, starting a home business -- any of a number of life events can precipitate a need for an extra bedroom, an extra bathroom, a larger kitchen, more storage space or a backyard.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Offer Larger Unit:

If it becomes clear that a good tenant's current unit is no longer meeting their needs letting them know if you have larger units available could serve you both quite well.

  • Offer Upgrade:

Depending on a tenant's specific need or desire and your own current liquidity, you may be able to entice a good one to stay by offering an upgrade to their current unit. Swapping out carpet, retiling a shower or addition of a stainless steel appliance may be enough to get the tenant to overlook the tighter space for a while longer.

3. Need Less Space- Downsize

A tenant may wish to move because their current unit is too large for them. Just as growing families easily see the need to expand living space, empty nesters and the newly-single often quickly begin to resent the responsibility of and fail to see the practicality in maintaining a larger space for just themselves.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Offer Smaller Unit:

If a smaller unit is available which might fit the tenant's needs, let your tenant know.

  • Offer Incentive:

You can also offer them an incentive, such as reduced rent, a free parking space or a new kitchen backsplash to try and convince them to stay. 

4. Job Change/Relocation

Some tenants move because they have no choice. Job changes are salary changes. Salary changes are inevitably accompanied by consideration of properties which suit adjusted incomes.

Job relocation can force a decision to move. In these instances, the tenant must usually make the move quickly. This is a good thing if the relocated tenant is looking to rent one of your vacant units. It is not such a good if it is one of your current tenants who must relocate quickly.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Job Relocation:

Unfortunately, there is little you can do if a tenant is moving due to a job relocation. In this case, you must commit to the work of finding a new tenant to fill the vacancy.

  • Job Change- Higher Salary:

If a tenant gets a raise, so seeks a newer place to live, you may offer to make upgrades to their apartment in exchange for a slight increase in rent. 

  • Job Change-Lower Salary:

For tenants who have changed jobs, causing a negative impact to their income, you can offer to reduce the tenant's rent to entice them to stay or you can offer to let them move into a cheaper apartment if you have another vacancy available.

5. Maintenance Issues

Maintenance issues can cause a tenant to move. They may be tired of dealing with clogged drains, leaky roofs, or pest problems. The good news is, if you stay on top of the maintenance at your property, you will not have to deal with this issue.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Regular Maintenance:

Periodic maintenance can help prevent problems from occurring.

  • Fix Problems Quickly:

If an issue does come up, addressing and resolving the issue quickly will usually be enough to keep the tenant happy. You should also have an easy way for tenants to contact you to make repair requests, whether it is email or a dedicated phone line.

6. Problems With Neighbors

Some tenants will move due to issues with neighbors or other tenants. They may have noise complaints, feel unsafe around a neighbor or constantly butt heads with another individual for whatever reason. A tenant wants to be able to enjoy their home in peace. If they don’t feel their home is a sanctuary, they are more likely to leave.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Tenant Screening:

While you cannot control the next-door neighbors, you can control the type of tenant you put into your property. It is so important to put quality tenants in your rentals. One bad apple could quickly cause good tenants to move out of your property.

  • Quiet Hours Policy:

You should also have a quiet hours policy in place. If a tenant continues to violate this policy, they will be faced with eviction

7. Want to Change Neighborhood

Another reason tenants leave is that they want to move to a different neighborhood. They may feel that their current neighborhood has become unsafe, they may want to experience a new location or they may want to switch school districts.

For example, a couple who has lived in the city for 10 years may want to relocate to the suburbs. A mother whose son is about to enter first grade may want to relocate to a better school district. A retiree may be sick of harsh northern winters and wishes to relocate to the south.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Offer Incentives:

If a tenant wants to leave the area, it can be hard to convince them to stay. You can offer incentives to see if that will change their mind.

  • Offer Different Location:

If you are lucky enough to have a rental in their desired new neighborhood or even a different location than your current property, you can see if the tenant might be willing to move there instead.

8. Separation/Divorce/Marriage

Some tenants will move due to changes in their relationship status. A separation or marriage might have changed their financial status or they may simply want to start fresh. Those undergoing a separation or divorce may be looking to downsize, while those getting married may be looking to move to a larger place.

Avoid a Vacancy-

Offer any available rentals you may have. Offer incentives such as a free parking space.

9. Renter's Market

Many renters will choose to relocate when the market becomes a renter’s market, meaning that supply outweighs demand for units so the tenant may be able to get a larger apartment, or one with better amenities, for a cheaper price. Tenants have the upper hand in a renter's market, so it can be very difficult to convince them to stay.

This will affect you in two ways:

1. You will lose your current tenant and have a vacancy.

2. Because it is a renter’s market, you may not be able to charge as much for the unit as you had previously.

Avoid a Vacancy-

  • Reduce Rent:

You can try to avoid a vacancy by reducing a current tenant's rent.

  • Offer Upgrades:

Instead of reducing rent, you can offer upgrades to the apartment such as granite countertops, new carpeting or appliances, in the hopes that they will renew their lease.