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April 16, 2018

Happy tenants mean less profit lost over vacancies—so what’s the secret to happy tenants? Put simply, good property management. And nothing sets the tone for your lessor-lessee relationship quite like what occurs when your tenants move in. 

If your property is in a state where electricity or gas is deregulated, one of the best ways to help your new renters as they’re settling in is to give them a crash course on how to set up utilities. Deregulation makes the market a little more complex, so here’s what you can do to help your tenants navigate the process.

Provide a List of Available Power Companies or Plans

While deregulated markets give users access to affordable energy by offering variety, your new tenants might be overwhelmed by having to sift through all the options to find the best choice—particularly if they moved from a state that wasn’t deregulated. Providing a list of all the local utilities in your area as well as highlighting the most popular plans will help them get started.

Your high-level overview can help reduce one of the many stresses of moving into a new place, and your tenants will appreciate your thoughtfulness on their behalf.

Explain the Most Popular Deregulated Energy Packages

In addition to providing your renters with a few recommended plan options, give them a rundown on the types of plans they might consider if they start looking for providers on their own.

Every tenant has different energy needs, but most use habits will fit neatly into one of these five plan types:

1. Fixed: Many renters need the assurance that their energy costs will never exceed their budgets. Energy prices tend to fluctuate based on demand and the economy, but with a fixed-rate package, your tenants can avoid those fluctuations and pay a fixed amount each month. Fixed-rate terms vary from location to location, so advise your tenants to check the contract length before signing.

2. Flexible: For other tenants who are out of town on the weekends or not home much of the day, a flexible-rate plan (sometimes called a “time-of-use plan”) that rewards them for not using much energy during the day could be a top choice. By listing deregulated local energy vendors that offer flexible plans, you can help your tenant find a plan that will charge them less for off-hours use.

3. Variable: Not to be confused with flexible-rate plans, variable-rate energy plans offer pricing that fluctuates with the market. If your tenants feel confident in the market’s stability, opting for a variable-rate plan could result in a lot of savings. However, if demand spikes, as it could during a particularly hot summer, rates might jump with it.

4. Prepaid: For tenants who won’t be around for very long or who may have bad credit, prepaid energy plans are a great solution. Prepaid energy packages are perfect for tenants who want to pay month to month and are wary of cancellation fees. As a bonus, there are often no credit or background checks for these types of plans.

5. Renewable Energy: Win the hearts of any eco-conscious tenants by showing them the local deregulated renewable energy options available to them. Although most renewable energy options offered by energy vendors may be only partially obtained from renewable sources, these energy plans can help fund the infrastructure for increased sustainable energy.

In addition to covering the basic plan options, encourage your tenants to evaluate other energy company considerations too: customer service, billing ease, and special offers should all play a role as they make their choice.

Make Sure Your Tenants Know Whether Utilities Will Be in Their Names

Unless you’re leasing units with very temporary contracts or large multi-family units without individualized energy meters, it’s easier for all parties involved to have tenants place utilities in their names. Otherwise, you’ll be inserting yourself as an intermediary between the utility company and your tenants when you really don’t need to.

Further, if you put all the energy bills in your name, you’ll be adding a lot more responsibility to your plate—it’ll be one more thing that you’ll have to track and manage in your already busy day. So keep things simple and allow your tenants the ability to choose the energy package that fits their needs. Just make sure to communicate that this is your policy so your new renters can take the necessary steps to get an account set up.

In a sea of bad property managers, it’s easy to stand out when you respect your tenants’ autonomy and give them the freedom to secure the best deals on their utilities.

Author Bio: Elaine Thompson is based in Salt Lake City and has a BA in communication and journalism. She is an expert in home savings and improvement. Follow her on Twitter @EThompOfficial

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