Landlords, Want to Identify Your Superpower? Consider Pickleball.


Denise Kinsley

– VOL. 17

Is it just us, or has everyone gone Pickleball-crazy lately? Everyone’s favorite pastime with the funny name is now the fastest growing sport in America. (Fun Fact: Pickleball was named in honor of the originator’s dog, Pickles.) And it’s really no big surprise that this extremely social sport is on the rise in post-pandemic communities.

Group gatherings and social interactions have made a major comeback, and pickleball demonstrates how people of all ages prioritize shared experiences close to home—within the neighborhoods where they live.

Why is everyone so obsessed with Pickleball?

Well, it pretty much breaks down to those “feel good” chemicals in the brain. And who doesn’t want to feel like a member of the coolest, new club? Most pickleball players, a.k.a. “picklers” pack together on court like sardines with several nets set up side by side.

And then . . . it gets loud. It gets social; it gets fun. Pickleball invokes a party scene with a shot of oxytocin on the side kind of vibe. And one of the best parts is that this acclaimed recreational activity is easy to pick up. Sure, some people complain pickleball is more of a social scene than a workout, but what’s wrong with that?

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Picklers are taking over tennis courts in residential communities across the country.

Picklers are taking neighborhoods by storm and persevering despite the inevitable push-back from tennis players. Some die-hard picklers are even moving to neighborhoods that specifically have a public court where they can play with their friends. This friend factor is key, something  savvy property owners, landlords, and developers should take into consideration. 

Connection is key to creating a lively living situation. And that results in renewals.

According to Venn’s Experience Era Report, neighborhood is a huge deciding factor as to where a person chooses to live. And it plays a pivotal role in renters’ renewal decision-making. Venn asked renters to select the top three criteria in renewing their lease, and nearly 60 percent of all people selected at least one neighborhood factor among their choices. 

Strong social connections are one of the biggest factors in mental health, and landlords are finding ways to support that in the amenities they offer. 

As vaccines and boosters grow ubiquitous, we’re no longer required to feel isolated or lonely indoors. And it’s a good thing because researchers flagged loneliness as a major factor in chronic disease and isolation. Loneliness has the potential to lead to high stress levels and depression, which can increase inflammation in the body. The antidote? Human connection. 

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The real value of pickleball goes beyond fitness: it’s the social connections and staying power they create for residents.

We’re not suggesting that landlords invest a bunch of resources into building pickleball courts per se, but they definitely should pay heed to residents’ and potential residents’ social connections. Maybe cornhole or darts would fit better in your unique space? Regardless, creating opportunities for tenants to build community should be on the top of a competitively-minded landlord’s to-do list.

At Venn, we know that the fast rise of Pickleball is really just an indicator of our enthusiasm for neighborhood connection. Renters satisfied with opportunities to meet neighbors are 2x more likely to renew. According to the Venn 2022 Renter Experience report: “The most powerful lever property owners have to improve retention is helping residents connect with their neighbors. What’s more, the significance of these connections has grown over time. Renters’ sense of community has grown in importance as a renewal factor by nearly 20% since 2019.” 

Ultimately, these moments of connection—whether they happen on the Pickleball court, at the coworking space, or rooftop yoga—are what make an apartment building a desirable place to live. Giving tenants the opportunity to enjoy experiences and spaces together is just as important as what goes on inside an apartment’s four walls in terms of boosting their likelihood to renew. So start thinking of your community as an amenity. It’s a win-win for landlords and tenants alike.