4 Expert Tips for Low Tenant Delinquency Rates

Dominion Management, a property management company based in the Baltimore area that oversees roughly 800 single-family homes, has an exceptionally low delinquency rate – under 5% – compared to the average tenant delinquency of 11%, according to the Census Bureau’s Pulse Survey. They also maintain a long tenancy term of 5-6 years rather than the typical 12 month average. 

How do they make this happen?

Being a landlord entails more than just owning property and collecting rent. It involves careful management, communication, and foresight to protect your investment and maintain positive landlord-tenant relationships. Here are 4 expert tips to maintain low delinquency rates:

1. Don’t Take Shortcuts in Tenant Screening

It is critical to select reliable tenants. The single most important thing you can do to prevent delinquency is thoroughly background check your tenants. Do not take shortcuts in this process. Landlords should conduct comprehensive tenant screenings. Using all of the tools in your toolbelt to make the best selection on a candidate is key.

Landlords should prioritize verifying rental history with previous landlords as it often provides more valuable insights than a credit score. Previous landlords provide insightful information such as tenants rental history, payment track record, and housekeeping habits. Landlord verification brings to light possible lease violations, helping weed out unwanted tenants. 

Here’s another tip – consider requiring home inspections prior to tenant approval. This will give you a sense of how well they will take care of the property. You can evaluate the cleanliness and quality of maintenance of the prospect’s current residence. It might be an usual method, but how they treat their current unit is indicative of how they will treat yours. 

When running any business, customer service goes a long way. Treat your tenants as clients, not just as a commodity. Their experience matters.

2. Clear Communication and Documentation 

Effective communication is the cornerstone of a successful landlord-tenant relationship. Ensure all communication is clear, concise, and documented. It is crucial to establish clear and comprehensive contracts outlining the rights and responsibilities of both parties, including any agreements with homeowners associations. 

Professionalizing your property management business will allow you to be taken more seriously as a business in this industry, rather than just a landlord who can be taken advantage of. Start by creating a website for your business, or updating your current one regularly. Organize and file all of your legal documentation to help legitimize your business. 

Landlords should regularly update tenants on any changes or maintenance schedules and document all interactions, agreements, and incidents. CRM’s like Appfolio and Doorloop are  portfolio management softwares that enable investors to communicate with, and track all interactions with tenants. 

Make sure to photograph and document any issues related to broken appliances, lease violations, and poor property upkeep. These photographs and any notes should be saved to the tenant file. This documentation will come in handy if an eviction or property damage dispute ever arises.

3. Invest in Your Property

Just like any other business, take pride in the product that you’re offering your customer. When acquiring a new property for your portfolio, consider making upgrades that will enhance your resident’s experience. Don’t cut corners – invest in quality finishes and long lasting materials for your properties. While it may cost more upfront to make your investment high quality and durable, the benefits outweigh the costs. 

Stephanie Derry, property manager at Dominion Management, says “when people are happy, they don’t leave.” When a tenant is staying in a well cared for property they will stay longer – which will lengthen your average tenancy term, and minimize turnovers – which can cost upwards of $5,000/month per single family rental unit turnover.  

Invest in regular maintenance and repairs to your properties. Do not wait until your tenant is fuming to fix issues within the property. Prolonging repairs leads to more issues down the line, so be sure to fix issues as they occur.

4. Consider Affordable Housing 

Partnering with government-sponsored affordable housing programs can stabilize your portfolio cash flow because rent is partially paid by the government – eliminating the stress of late payments or tenants unable to afford their rent. Over 9 million Americans utilize section 8 or other affordable housing assistance. According to Stephanie Derry, “98% of Dominion’s tenants have affordable housing vouchers.” This unique customer pool is one of the reasons for Dominion’s low delinquency rate and high tenancy term. When a tenant is living in a high-quality rental unit and they are able to afford it, they have little reason to leave. 

In order to stay in compliance with fair housing laws, landlords and property managers need to stay up to date on inspections, evaluations, and paperwork. As a result, rental units that are fair- housing-complaint are often higher quality and house longer-term tenants. 


By embracing these tips, landlords can maintain low delinquency rates. Let us know if there are any property management tips that are working for your business!

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