landlords offer move in specials

Updated November 2021

Wondering if landlords who offer move-in specials are onto something? Or are they just wasting their time?

Rental markets across the country can be very competitive. With more properties than ever on the market in some areas, landlords have to find ways to make their properties and businesses stand out from the competition. For some, the answer to their high vacancy rates has been to offer apartment promotions for new tenants.

Do move-in specials really work, though, and how can you incorporate them into your apartment business plans for long-term success? Learn more about why landlords use these specials, to see if they will be a good fit when renting your properties.

A Table Of Contents On Apartments With Move-In Specials

Moving specials on apartments may entice new prospective tenants to apply, but is this the right way to fill vacancies? The only way to find out is to learn more:

Why Do Landlords Offer Move-In Specials?

The reasons that any landlord decides to add a move-in special offer to their rentals vary, but some common reasons seem to show up time and time again.

Attracting More Attention

Why Do Landlords Offer Move-In Specials?

With more rental space than ever available to prospective tenants, many landlords wonder what they can do to stand out above the competition and attract the best and most qualified applicants.

Apartment move-in specials are a great way to attract attention and lead you to get more applicants than you might otherwise receive for your rental property.

More applicants are a good thing because that will enable you to choose from a larger pool of potential tenants. This typically enables landlords to find tenants who are a good fit.

Market Conditions

Market conditions play a role in what type of move-in specials you offer. However, unless the rental market is completely tipped in your favor, there’s always a good incentive to offer move-in specials to bring in as many applicants as possible so you can make the best choice.

When there are many comparable rental properties on the market, it can be hard to stand out. Something as simple as a move-in special can entice applicants to choose your rental property over similarly priced options.

When the market is working against your business, you need to find ways to stand out. This is what leads to landlords offering discounts and specials to potential tenants.

Ongoing Changes: Seasons And More

Other factors that may come into play in your decision to offer move-in specials include:

  •  The current season (fewer people move in the winter, especially around the holidays)
  • Something going on in the neighborhood (like serious road construction)
  • Increased competition (the modern multi-unit property opening up on the next block)

Landlords and property managers make the most money when they have excellent, long-term tenants and few vacancies, so offering move-in specials can be one of the first steps toward that goal when these changes affect your business.

5 Options: A Short List Of Apartment Move-In Specials

Consider these five options if you aren’t sure what type of move-in specials might be right for your properties. These are five of the top offers used in the rental industry by landlords and property management companies.

First Month Rent Free

At first glance, many landlords may not understand the advantage of running this type of move-in special. After all, how can they afford to go without one month of rent? The secret is to run this type of special when you offer a 12-month lease or longer.

If you’re having a hard time getting your vacant unit filled, waiving the first month can bring in those highly qualified applicants. You may not get your first month of rent, but you’ve locked in great tenants for the rest of the lease.

And, you wouldn’t have gotten that first month of rent anyhow if the unit were sitting vacant because it wasn’t attracting attention.

Lower Or No Security Deposit

Offering a lower security deposit is one way to attract applicants. You can choose to charge interested applicants a few hundred dollars for the deposit instead of a full month’s rent or whatever the amount is that your state allows.

Moving from one rental to another can be expensive, so whenever there is a chance for applicants to save some money, they often jump at the listings that will do so. Some landlords feel comfortable with a reduced security deposit amount because, much of the time, they end up sending most of it back to the tenant.

The downside is that a reduced security deposit will not cover the costs of damages if those same tenants eventually leave you with a mess. It also won’t cover most of the lost rent if the tenant bolts mid-lease. You can try to recover both through small claims court, but that may or may not work out for you. A good tenant screening process can minimize the risk.

Waive Fees

If you manage a multi-unit rental property and have fees in place for some of your services, you might consider waiving some application or processing fees to attract applicants. The most commonly waived fees are for the background check and/or the application fee. Waiving these fees can tip the scales in your favor for getting the right applicants to become your tenants.

Offer Free Stuff

Few things attract attention to a rental ad like the word “Free.” Offering free utilities like heat or water or something you already pay for is another way to make an impact. Many landlords and property managers charge for certain property amenities, like internet, cable, washers and dryers in the rental unit, special parking spots, and so forth.

Many landlords find it well worth it to absorb the relatively small cost of one or more of these amenities in order to lock in a long-term tenant who will pay a full deposit and rent. Some landlords even offer free items, like a TV, gift cards, or tickets to a sporting event to applicants who sign a lease, figuring that it is a controlled expense that they plan for, and “buys” them a great tenant in a long-term lease.

Reduce The Rent

5 Options: A Short List Of Apartment Move-In Specials

It makes sense to charge the monthly rent the current market dictates, and presumably you’ve done your research on what a fair rent is for your area. Advertising a reduced monthly rent can be a big attention-grabber, but you need to turn it to your advantage. Charging a slightly lower rent can actually save you more over the long run than having a lot of turnovers or even a month or so of vacancies.

This works well if you typically use month-to-month rental agreements and would like something more stable. If your ideal applicant is wavering over signing a long-term lease, consider knocking off some of the rent via a move-in special to sweeten the deal.

When it comes to attracting qualified tenants, you have to do what makes sense for you and your rental property. Many successful landlords have learned that offering hard-to-ignore move-in specials makes applicants who are out shopping for the best deal on a rental property take a look at their place over the competition. After all, giving up a little bit of money for a long-term lease signed by good tenants is well worth the small sacrifice.

Additionally, landlords find a lot of success when they have more potential tenants apply for a property. However, with more applicants, you will also need to be sure that you have the right screening process in place. Tenant screening with RentPrep can make this process more effective and expedient.

FAQs: Moving Specials For Apartments

It’s important to keep in mind that offering tenants an incentive can be beneficial for your rental business. Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about move-in specials for rentals.

What is a move-in special for an apartment?

A move-in special is an offer by a landlord or property management company given to prospective or new tenants when they move into an apartment. The tenants can receive some benefit, such as a reduced rent or free parking spot, in exchange for signing a lease.

Are rent specials worth it?

Whether or not rent specials are worth it is going to depend on the specific property and the market. Rent specials are great in markets where you need to out-market the competition or fill a lot of vacancies, but might not be a great choice in markets where the profit margin is very thin.

Analyzing your own properties, profits, and the overall market is the best way to determine how and when to consider using rent specials. The key is to only use a rent special that matches the benefit you will be able to earn as a result.

Why do apartments offer free rent?

Some apartment owners and property managers decide to offer a month of free rent when a new tenant or existing tenant signs a long-term lease, as a way to entice these individuals to rent. Long-term tenants are very important for the success of rental businesses.

By offering free rent, they can reduce the number of vacancies they have at any given time and improve their overall profit margin.

Can you negotiate rent after signing a lease?

Once a lease is signed, the terms of the lease are locked in place for the duration of the lease unless both parties agree to it. If you decide that you want to offer your tenant a lower rate, you can negotiate this with them and then sign a lease addendum to change this.

Otherwise, it is not possible to change rent during a lease. The lease can be renegotiated before signing an extension or new lease agreement, but otherwise will remain the same.

Why do landlords usually offer rent concessions such as free rent up front rather than just reducing the rent?

The reason that any landlord offers one special over another will vary. However, most landlords find that offering a free month of rent attracts and entices prospective tenants more than reducing the overall price of rent.

Additionally, it is usually more financially manageable for landlords to offer a free month of rent rather than locking in a reduced rent long term. However, that will vary depending on the specific market in which the property is located.

Why do apartments give gift cards?

Apartments often give free gift cards to tenant applicants or new tenants who meet certain requirements in order to entice more people to come view their apartments. The cost of handing out gift cards is balanced out by the increased number of applicants for an apartment as well as the guarantee of a long-term lease agreement in many situations.

Will These Specials Work For You?

Move-in specials are not going to be the right fit for every rental business or landlord. Before implementing this type of offer, consider if this will help you to have fewer vacancies or just end up costing you more money.

In most cases, landlords find that move-in offers keep tenants in their properties longer and reduce the total number of vacancies they experience. If you’ve been plagued by these problems, it’s time to try something new like apartment specials to make a difference in your bottom line.

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