Appealing to Millennial and Gen Z Renters
November 30, 2022
Millennial and Gen Z have become the dominant age group in the rental market. Significantly fewer people in this age group are purchasing homes when compared to previous generations at the same age. This is largely due to the combined financial burdens of house prices rising significantly through their youth and early adulthood, living through the financial hardships of both the 2008 recession and the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, and significant student debt accrued in their late teens and early twenties. The younger generations are also much less likely than their older counterparts to want to settle down with a family and tend to prefer the flexibility to move locations as opportunities arise, so the larger space and relative stability of a house are not as necessary or attractive to many.
Younger generations are very conscientious of environmental issues and are generally willing to pay higher prices for green products and services. Smart thermostats in each unit and energy efficient washers and dryers (whether communal or ensuite) are excellent options that would make millennials and Gen Z’s feel confident about maintaining a lower carbon footprint.
Fulsome recycling and compost programs for the building are highly recommended as well. Many buildings, especially in urban areas, strictly have waste sorted as either garbage or general recycling (with all types of recyclables mixed together), and not all buildings have a compost option. A community garden could also be an excellent option for residents to both grow their own produce, and reuse their compostable waste.
Sourcing products locally and using environmentally friendly supplies where possible will also be appealing to millennials and Gen Z’s. This can apply to anything from construction materials, to office and cleaning supplies.
Digital Communication and Payment Options
Communicating with tenants via email and text is both a better way to connect with younger generations, and also more time and cost effective for landlords than printing and delivering individual notices. Having an online portal available for tenants to view important notices, engage with building services, and view and update account information such as rent and contact information is also a great cost effective and convenient way to engage with tenants.
Writing cheques to pay for rent is a rather antiquated practice, and in fact many millennials and Gen Z’s have never written a cheque before. Having online payment options available for rent is a must in today’s technology-driven world, but especially so with younger generations who have only ever known this way of doing things. Communal laundry rooms can also operate via apps, with digital payments through either a laundry card or their smartphones. Digital payments can be enabled for any other amenities in the building requiring payment, as well.
Online Marketing and Virtual Tours
Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with the internet being a constant presence, and a convenient resource for all their needs. They are much more likely than previous generations to begin their apartment search online and will want all requisite information to be available on a website or through social media. A virtual tour is a good option to provide so that renters can see if a unit suits their needs rather than wasting their own time and the leasing agent’s time coming to view an apartment without much prior knowledge of the space. When a prospective renter does wish to book an in-person unit viewing, an online reservation system can be a great way to make the process easy and convenient for everyone involved.
Millennials and Gen Z’s are less likely than older generations to want to gather for community events with their neighbours. However, there is a clear desire to have entertaining space for their own social groups. Having a community space available where tenants can invite their friends and family to spend time with them can be a real selling point, as apartment units will generally not have the space available for hosting large get-togethers.
Younger generations are also much more likely to be in remote working positions, and where feasible it could be a significant selling point to add a communal workspace to the building. This would especially be the case if units do not include areas that can be used as designated office space. A mix of single-person desks and larger communal tables, and perhaps separate meeting rooms where space allows, would be ideal to provide working space for remote workers. Another add-on option would be to provide free Wi-Fi and hardware such as printers.
Many buildings, especially older buildings, have building access “buzzer” systems connected to tenants’ landline phones. When a package is delivered or friends come to visit, they enter a code unique to the tenant’s unit, and the tenant can “buzz” them into the building using their landline phone. However, most younger generations do not use landline phones, and strictly rely on their cell phones. Upgrading building access systems to connect to tenants’ cell phones is an excellent way to allow tenants to conveniently receive deliveries and control who enters their building.
Also, as millennials and Gen Z’s typically do the bulk of their shopping online and prefer to have goods delivered over visiting brick and mortar stores, having a mail room available for tenants where couriers can safely leave packages would be a great option. With email or phone contact information on file for tenants, automated notifications could be sent out to tenants when a package arrives for them.
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