How Should Rental Property Owners Communicate With Renters?
January 3, 2023 / by Hignell Property Management Team
If you're the owner of an investment property, you need a reliable means of communication with the residents and business owners occupying your leased spaces. So, which method of communication should you use when making these business contacts? For most rental property owners, a situation-dependent, judicious mix of emails, texts, and phone calls could be best.
Consider the Needs of Your Rental Demographic
If you're the owner of rental property with most of its units rented to senior citizens, your mode of contact will likely be different than your counterparts with real estate in proximity to a university.
Making sure that your residents have the option of communicating in a way in which they're comfortable is a hallmark of a reputable and reliable property manager and owner.
Stipulate the Means of Communication in Your Lease
Before signing the lease, make sure that each resident lists multiple means of communicating with them, e.g., cell phone number and email. They can also indicate their preference regarding notifications.
Here's where clarity is key. Residents should understand the status level of the issue will dictate how they or you or anyone acting as your designee will attempt to communicate. Here's why.
People can have wildly disparate ideas about what constitutes an emergency. For most, it would be a burst pipe or something similarly urgent. But a few residents may mistakenly believe that a burned-out hallway light justifies the late-night call that jolts you out of a sound sleep.
Social Media and Its Role in Communication
These days, all successful businesses have established social media presences. To many people, reaching out to businesses via their social media apps and pages is second nature.
It's a legitimate means of reaching a company or business entity. One problem that can arise from social media communications is the public nature of the matter.
Another is the response time. Rental property owners should stress in their leases that comments on social media are welcome, but are not the official means of disseminating information.
The Pros of Texts
It's a good idea for all residents and business occupants to list a number that can be texted even when it's not the preferred means of communication. In natural disasters and other emergencies, texts are sometimes the only means of quickly communicating vital information.
One tip for rental property owners who are updating residents via text is to screenshot the communications, including "read by" tags.
What About Emails?
Emails are great because they are time-and date-stamped. That creates a digital trail of your attempts to communicate or respond to a resident or business occupant.
But emails have a tendency to wind up in the wrong folder, get designated as spam, and overlooked entirely. Emails should recapitulate your in-person conversation, text message(s) and the following method of communication.
If it's 3 a.m. and one resident's toilet is overflowing into the resident's unit beneath them, that's something you want to know about immediately -- and likely will.
Ditto for anything that triggers a smoke alarm (except those that go off if you burn your toast!). These are emergencies threatening at least your and your residents' property. As such, that should be specified in your lease as an emergency situation requiring a telephone call to inform you of the event(s).
However the situation is handled in the short-term, sending a summarizing email establishes your awareness and diligence in resolving the problem.
Some Communication Is More Formal
Inevitably, all rental property owners have to deal with the unpleasantness of an eviction. When that day comes, you will need to use a "hard" form of communication, i.e., a certified letter and/or petition served by an agent of the court to the resident being evicted.
Buttressing that formal communication should be copies of the emails, screenshots of texts and photos and narrative recaps of conversations with the resident(s).
That's Starting to Sound a Whole Lot Like Work
It does -- because it is. Rental property owners quickly learn that there's no such thing as "passive income" when you own and operate your own rental property.
Nights, holidays, weekends, it doesn't matter. Somebody still has to be in charge and responsive to the residents' means of communication in the moment when circumstances require it.
You could soon discover that you bit off more than you can chew. But there's good news here as well.
Rental Property Owners Don't Have to Take It All On Themselves
As an investment property owner, you can still reap the benefits of your rental property income without taking on the daily minutiae that can annoy and aggravate you.
By hiring a reputable property management company to oversee the day-to-day management tasks, property owners add a buffer between them and angry or displaced residents.
When situations rise to certain levels, they get escalated accordingly. Property owners will still get post-midnight calls when necessary. But it will be the property manager apprising the owner of how they successfully managed the emergency situations as they arose.
Property Management Sites Have Communication Portals
Another good way for your residents to reach those who can best meet their needs is through the communication portal of the property management company's website. They can also pay rent digitally from the comfort of their residences.
Today's technology offers so many different ways for individuals to connect with businesses. You can work with your property management company to devise the best hierarchy of communication between the residents, the property management team, and you.
You can't put a price on peace of mind. But there are very reasonable management packages available for your rental properties.