Believe it or not, tenants care a little less about rental rates and a bit more about property management in 2012.

Over the last year, there has been a slight shift in what weighs more heavily into a renewal decision for multifamily tenants, according to the Q3 2012 Multifamily Industry Trends survey conducted by San Francisco-based research firm Kingsley Associates.

For renters who say they are “unlikely” to renew—the ones who have already been rubbed the wrong way—the top gripe was being pushed too far on rental rates, with 32 percent citing that as the deciding factor. But that figure is down 11 percent from last year. The top factors gaining importance from Q3 2011 to Q3 2102 were community management, up from 25 to 27 percent, community appearance, up from 11 to 15 percent, and location, up from 16 to 18 percent.

Perhaps the most interesting finding was that while fewer respondents cared about rental rates this year, more cared about pet policies, overtaking building upkeep in importance.

The top reason for respondents who identified as “likely” to renew? It’s all about the location. Tenants cited property location as the No. 1 factor when decided whether or not to renew with a majority 59 percent saying it was the most critical factor in resigning a lease. But that figure is down from 74 percent in 2011.

Among the other major changes in renewal behavior this year were the rise in importance of community management and pet policy, up to 42 percent and 18 percent, respectively. One huge drop in importance was in community quality, down from 37 percent in the third quarter of 2011 to 24 percent in 2012.

So it sounds like as long as you are located in a prime spot, take care of resident’s needs, and let them have their dogs, renters are happy to accept less-than-perfect communities with rising rental rates.

Leave a comment below telling us what factors are the biggest contributors to your renter turnover or how your company is retaining tenants.

Reprint from     By  Derek Mearns