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How Millennials Rent and What They Really Care About

There’s a lot of talk in media and marketing about how to reach Millennials—that generation born between 1981 and 2001. They may be recent graduates or just reaching the first peak in their careers, and they are flocking to city centers to expand their options and find new experiences.

And here’s the fact: if you own an urban apartment, these are your primary renters. It’s time you got to know them a little better.

What matters to them in a property or a property manager? What personal values do they bring into their living arrangements? What makes them stick around for more than a year or two?

1. Personalization

Younger Millennials are moving from shared accommodation or parents’ homes, and this may be their first opportunity to make a space their own. If you plan on making updates to your apartment between renters, consider letting the next tenants in on the process: consult them on paint swatches or new flooring. Taking their personal tastes into consideration (to a point) may help them feel like this is their home, contributing to them taking good care of your property and staying in your unit for longer.

Remaining a renter for life is a hot topic on investment blogs. This option is increasingly becoming a consideration for Millennials—and some are looking for a long term home where they can settle in. Allowing Millennial renters to have small gardens on their patios, or creating shared gardening space on rooftops may help them feel like they’ve laid down roots (pun intended).

2. Flexibility 

Many millennials choose to be renters because of the freedom it brings.

“I’ve taken a few months off to travel, and my landlord let me sublet to a friend while I was gone,” shares Stephanie, a 29-year-old renter who lives in Vancouver, BC. She didn’t want to leave the apartment she loved when she took off time between jobs. Allowing young renters the flexibility to sublet could keep a great tenant around for longer.

If you’re creating a rental unit in your home or renovating an existing rental property, consider creating a flex space in the floorplan—a small den that can be used as an office, or one day a nursery. More and more Millennials are moving towards self-employment, and many are staying in city centers even after starting a family. Having a small space they can adapt to their life changes gives them the flexibility to stay in your rental unit.

3. Community 

More than their Boomer parents’ generation, studies show that Millennials are choosing city centers because of the ease of access to their friends, work and entertainment. They are moving out to the suburbs at a slower rate and their desire for privacy and gated communities has been replaced with a yearning for connection. Creating a shared common space with barbecues or outdoor seating is an inexpensive way to create a sense of community in your building, adding to the desirability of your property for new and current Millennial renters.

A building with tenants who say “Hello” in the elevator and lend each other a hand with grocery bags goes a long way for attracting and keeping Millennial renters too—especially if they are new to the city. Consider introducing prospective tenants to existing tenants or hosting a building get-together. It is a sure way to increase safety and connection.

Tap into the connected social networks of your favorite Millennial tenants to attract new tenants. If you have a new unit coming available, craft a short Facebook post with a link to the listing for them to share with friends. Email or text it to them and let them know you’d love them to reach out to any friends and family who might be a great addition to the community. Consider giving an incentive if they help you find a good fit.

4. Communication

Millennials have grown up at a time when you can text a friend and expect an answer back almost instantly. Consider setting communication standards, like a three-hour response time between 8am and 8pm, and give them a cellphone number they can text versus a landline. Knowing they can easily reach you in an emergency, while setting parameters for this communication, builds trust and reduces frustration.

Keeping them informed—letting them know what days the shared spaces or windows will be cleaned, alerting them well in advance if there will be noisy maintenance or fire alarm testing, or giving them a text if you need to turn off utilities for any amount of time—not only helps them feel like valued members of the community, but helps them build trust in the care you give to their home.

The next generation of renters takes pride in their space, values community and expects rapid communication. Find opportunities to create freedom, personalization and connection, and you’ll fill your building with a vibrant, friendly and engaged group of Millennial tenants who stay put.


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