For many, home ownership is seen as a badge of honor representing a financial milestone on the journey through adulthood. But as the saying goes—times are a changin’—and today we are seeing more people choosing to rent – but not for the reasons you might think.
Referred to as Lifestyle Renters, this cohort includes young professionals with and without small children, as well as empty nesters. While many of them could purchase a home and maintain it, they are choosing not to, in exchange for the freedom, flexibility, and security that comes with living in a professionally managed modern apartment building.
Across Canada there are new purpose-built rental projects underway and for the most part, these are being designed with the lifestyle renter in mind; with elevated amenities and quality finishes, and well situated along transit corridors, in or near vibrant neighbourhoods.
Creating spaces and places where people love to live
Anyone who has been in the rental management business for a while will tell you that it takes more than a good-looking building to keep residents happy. While high-end living spaces and quality amenities are what may initially draw someone to a particular building, it’s the experience of living there - how the building is managed, and the services provided - that will keep them there.
Here are a few things to consider to attract and retain lifestyle renters to your property:
Location. OK, you may not be able to control where your building is located but lifestyle renters typically want to be close to the things they love. For empty nesters, this can mean restaurants, theatre, and venues that they now have the time to enjoy. For others, it could mean being close to transit in favor of having no vehicle expenses to worry about. If you are not close to these things, consider offering a shuttle service or providing access to car sharing.
Working from home. With hybrid work becoming the norm, think about how you can create interesting work and flex spaces in your building. Smart unit design will make it easier to work in the apartment but having access to great workspaces in the building will give them options they will appreciate… especially in the winter!
Social spaces and events. Hire a decorator to add some pizzazz to your common areas. Host events to welcome new residents, explore interests, or support local charities. While not everyone will participate in these events, our experience is that everyone appreciates them.
Security. One of the more common reasons empty nesters choose to downsize and rent is that they want the freedom to travel knowing their home is safe and secure. Be sure to promote your security protocols and be proactive when issues arise.
Make things easy. How easy is it for your residents to pay rent? Receive parcels? Book a party room? or talk to someone about a problem or service request? If residents can’t do these things with just a few clicks on their mobile device, there’s a good chance they wish they could. Most digital solutions provide analytics that allow you to see trends within your building - giving you better insight into the needs of your residents.
Sense of community. Creating community takes effort and dedication by a team of people who share a commitment to the well being of their residents and the properties they manage. When done right, a property’s brand will become synonymous with a certain lifestyle that will then attract the type of people who will be most happy at that property. Get to know your residents – or the personas of who you want in a new building – and develop programming and initiatives that will resonate with them, enhancing their quality of life.
The upside of getting it right
Lifestyle renters are typically good tenants who can afford to pay premium rents, and that’s what makes them attractive to landlords. These residents will also be more inclined to take care of the property – treating it as a homeowner would. With that said, they expect the very best from their landlord and property manager, but get the formula right – brand, amenities, and experience – and you will have happy residents who will become ambassadors for your property. By example, here is a recent comment from one of our Ottawa residents: “I love this property so much that when I see potential tenants waiting for a tour, I always tell them that they will love living here!”