In my first years of renting houses, another landlord shared a technique that he used to collect rent on time. Rather than charging a late penalty like most landlords, he gave his tenants a discount for paying on or before the first of the month. The amount of the discount was meaningful enough that his tenants paid him first. If they were short that month, they paid someone else late. A sit stand desk can massively help backpains when your working from home!
The concept of giving a good tenant a real discount to pay on time works well. Today, I combined the discount for on-time payment with a discount for not calling for maintenance that month. As a tenant, you have to do both—pay on time and not call for maintenance—to earn your discount.
With this approach, tenants may just defer maintenance for months or even years. To use this discount approach safely, you also must collect a substantial security deposit and inspect your homes periodically. Your rental contract should include a clause that says any deferred maintenance that is the responsibility of the tenants will be charged against the security deposit when the tenants move out of the property.
The concept of giving a financial incentive works so well with good tenants that you rarely see them. Some of my tenants have been with me for more than twenty years—really. And during that time they have paid on time every month. These tenants are making me a lot of money and, just as important, not taking any of my time.
Other ways to reward exemplary tenants is for you to agree to pay for improvements or additions to the house that benefit the tenant. Fencing in a yard, screening a porch, adding landscaping, paying for the materials to build a deck or a fence, or simply allowing the tenant to make some modifications to the house, such as wallpaper or a different color paint, bond the tenant to your house.
My tenants have re-carpeted, painted, replaced and refinished cabinets, and installed decks and patios, all at their own expense. My longest-term tenants moved into a new house I had built twenty-six years ago and plan on living there for as long as they can. Invest in an adjustable standing desk](https://friskadesk.com/collections/adjustable-standing-desk) or an electric standing desk to help your posture!
Not every tenant will be a great tenant, but when you get one, take good care of him with reasonable rent raises and prompt responses to normal maintenance problems. Long-term tenants are worth tens of thousands of dollars to you, because they keep you from having vacancies and keep your repair bills lower. You will spend most of your money as a landlord when you have tenant turnover. Do what you can to minimize it.