The multifamily sector is changing rapidly. At this point in the pandemic, tenants are looking for different features, amenities, and rental spaces than they were just a few years ago. Considering roughly 45% of tenants rent multifamily units, understanding what tenants want is key to competing and growing in this competitive space.

Geography and your local market can play into which amenities are considered most important, but there are broad overarching experiences that most renters seek. These four items are on the top of many prospective tenants lists as we move into 2022.

People touring an apartment home.

Image Source: Getty Images.

Outdoor living

A full 66% of people say they have been doing more outdoor activities close to home since the pandemic began. In the past, much of the effort in multifamily housing has been focused on community spaces like a pool with a BBQ area or a rooftop hangout. The affinity for outdoor living space remains the same, but it's also a time of minimal social engagement. Hence, the need for private outdoor spaces.

Building in as many balconies or patios as possible can help meet that need. If you're working with an existing building, developing extensive walking paths with landscaping can give them a place to connect with nature without congregating everyone into one area. And if space allows, including garden beds or allowing container gardening on the balconies can help further their connection with the outdoors from the safety and privacy of their homes.

Healthy living environment

A 2020 study of 7,500 people by McKinsey Research found that 79% of respondents believed wellness was important, with 42% saying it was a top priority. From a multifamily-housing perspective, this includes everything from the building materials and amenities to general cleanliness. Using low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and having fresh-air inputs with superior filtration sets things right.

Offering a yoga room, gym, pool, walking paths, or other fitness features gives them convenient options for staying fit and healthy. And having an established and publicized regular cleaning schedule for all public living spaces -- including elevators, stairwells, and mailboxes -- is a must in today's world.

Telecommuting workspaces

The National Multifamily Housing Council found that 45% of people work from home at least once a week. Taking this into consideration, you can accommodate their needs in several ways. Having a dedicated on-premise co-workspace that enables tenants to get out of their houses yet have access to a desk, Wi-Fi, and quiet can relieve a lot of stress. Upgrading to the fastest Internet possible, if included in your amenities, will make remote work even easier. And on-site activities children can do can give parents much-needed relief while they juggle work and home life.

Pet-friendly accommodations

A 2021 survey by the American Pet Products Association found that 70% of U.S. households have a pet. Allowing pets in the rental agreement is one thing, but offering convenient accommodations for those pet owners takes it one step further.

A dog run or dog park is a great idea, but pet-friendly options could also be something as simple as having a treat in the lobby for the pups who come through. Also, placing pet-waste bags and regularly emptied trash cans consistently around the property will prevent pet-owning tenants from having to walk far to find one. Depending on the size of your complex, you could also solicit a grooming or pet walking service to give pet owners a convenient on-site option.

The four overarching concepts can be implemented at various levels depending on your specific market demands and the economic level that your housing units are geared toward. For instance, having a dog treat in the lobby may be a better fit than an on-site groomer depending on the average tenant income. The extent of the amenity will greatly depend on the apartment's location and tenant base.

Regardless of income, customer satisfaction pays. Deloitte research found that customer-centered businesses are 60% more profitable than companies that are not focused on the customer. And multifamily is no different from the restaurant or shopping mall down the street. There are 21.9 million other apartment units in the United States that you need to set yourself apart from. Catering to your tenants' needs and desires will set you apart from the competition and keep your multifamily property full and profitable.