Making sure your properties cash flow each month depends upon one critical component: keeping the property rented. If you find a distressed property and perform your own internal evaluation such as acquisition cost, rehab costs and marketing, all that work goes down the drain if you don’t have a tenant. That means finding and keeping happy tenants is key. What are some of the things you can do to make sure you have zero vacancies?

First, understand that a vacancy at some point will be unavoidable. Tenants give notice and move out in 30 days but your new tenants can’t move in until two or three weeks after that. Perhaps you want to perform some routine maintenance and prepare the property for your next tenants which mean the property will be vacant for some time. Regardless, there will be times when there is zero income.

The best way to keep your unit occupied is with longer term leases. Anything less than one year means you’ll be spending an inordinate amount of time constantly searching for new tenants every six months. Try for a two or even a three year lease agreement and perhaps in exchange offer a slightly better rate.

With regard to move-out notices, require at least a 30 day notice for your tenants to notify you if they’re going to renew but make sure you make the initial query two months before the lease expires. With more time, you can begin your search for a new tenant and have new tenants lined up before your current ones move out.

Keep your tenants happy at every opportunity. If they contact you about a maintenance issue, don’t put it off. Either you or someone you hire should be at the property to address the maintenance problem almost immediately. Responding quickly to a tenant’s request keeps them happy and happy tenants are more likely to renew than unhappy ones.

That’s probably the best advice to give to make sure you cash flow each and every month, keep happy tenants. Even when they decide to ultimately move, they can be a good referral source for future tenants. If you can’t respond quickly enough then hire a full time property manager to take care of tenant issues for you. When your tenants are happy, your bank account is too.