The mandate of most property managers is simple enough: track down great tenants, and keep them long-term. But that’s not always as straightforward as it sounds. The rental industry may be booming, but that doesn’t mean every applicant out there will be a great fit for your vacancy. And when you do find the right tenants, how do you entice them to stay?

Consider these tips for attracting – and hanging onto – good tenants:

1. Understand Who You’re Looking For

Be sure you establish who your ideal tenant is before you invest time and money in finding them. Not only will this help you to target the right audience with your marketing, it will prepare you to field questions about things like smoking, pet ownership, and minimum income requirements.

2. Sell Yourself

Creating a compelling rental listing is part strategy, part artform. Research suggests that you have about 8 seconds to grab and hold an applicant’s attention, so give them the practical details they need as you appeal to their imagination with visual images. Remember: a picture is still worth a thousand words, so don’t skimp when it comes to professional photography.

3. Know Your Amenities

A key element of any rental property is its location. Is your neighborhood blessed by great parks and schools, outstanding public transportation options, or groceries and coffee shops just minutes away? Understanding the needs of your market will help you highlight the right benefits during the interview process.

4. Make Screening a Priority

Vetting tenants can be time-consuming, but it’s one of the best ways to filter out potentially problematic renters. Hire a professional background screening company to check credit scores, eviction records, and employment and criminal histories. And don’t forget to follow up on any references you’re given.

5. Communicate Clearly and Consistently

Setting up your tenancy relationships for success hinges on initiating – and maintaining – reliable communication. Make yourself accessible through a variety of channels, respond to all inquiries and concerns promptly, and try to be proactive where your tenants’ happiness is concerned.

6. Stay on Top of Maintenance

After poor communication, a sluggish approach to repairs is the most common tenant complaint. They may not own it, but your property is still home in the eyes of your lease-holders. Preventative maintenance not only saves time and money on repairs down the road, it helps keep tenants from straying to more desirable digs.

7. Give Them a Reason to Stay

Keeping good tenants is a lot less expensive than replacing them. If you have a lease that’s about to expire – and your tenant is on the fence about renewing – consider swaying their decision with incentives like free parking or a gift voucher for some new household gadget.

8. Tenants Are People, Too

As simple as it sounds, the very best way to attract and keep good tenants is to treat them the way you’d like to be treated. Do your best to establish a solid relationship from day one, and the mutual respect you create will pay word-of-mouth dividends when it comes time to exchange one quality tenant for another.