Tenant Communication and Best Practices

Written on Monday April 8, 2019 by Bob Hinrichs

Before we cover some of the best practices for communicating with tenants, it’s helpful to know why great communication is so important. Effective tenant communication can be incredibly impactful on your profitability and workload, and will make your landlord experience a more positive one.

Importance of Communication

Every relationship in life involves communication, especially the landlord-tenant relationship. Good communication helps lead to a better tenant retention. Keeping tenants longer means that you’ll spend less money advertising vacant units and cleaning, painting, and  turning over units. Not to mention, you’ll have a steady flow of rental income flowing in because the units will remain occupied.

You can also save money with effective communication because it will allow you to catch issues before they become more expensive. Tenants who have an open line of communication with their landlord are more likely to report maintenance issues early. You’ll save big bucks if you catch maintenance early! When tenants don’t know how to reach their landlord or are made to feel like they are a bother for reaching out about issues, they don’t reach out as often. And then the seemingly small issues they were asking about (like a small water leak or high humidity in the unit) can have gotten a lot bigger. We know that a small issue like a water leak can quickly turn into serious mold or rotting. And that racks up massive costs to remediate. 

Communication is so important is because it affects your reputation. Maybe a tenant must move out due to relocation for work or other reasons. But having a great relationship and reputation with them will increase your chances of referrals! Again, having referrals saves greatly on advertising costs. (And they usually refer other great tenants) From experience, we can attest to the fact that happy tenants who love where they live will recommend their landlord/property manager to friends and family!

Best Practices for Tenant Communication

So we know that talking to tenants is important. Now, how do we do it? Let’s talk through some best practices on how to make sure you’re doing it effectively. In our experience, there are four guidelines you should always follow.

Timeliness

  • Timeliness is one of the most important practices when communicating with tenants. Typically, when a tenant reaches out to their landlord, it’s because they need something. If it takes you a week to get back to them about their issue or question, you may not only frustrate them further. But you could get yourself into legal trouble.

If they were reaching out to tell you about a maintenance issue that was causing unsafe/unsatisfactory living conditions and you don’t handle it for an extended period of time, it could be a breach of the lease. An easy way to avoid these issues is to be available and respond within a reasonable amount of time. Never take more than 1-2 days, but preferably, respond within a few hours!

Consistency

  • A sure-fire way to never miss communication from tenants is be to use consistent contact methods. It’s important that all of your tenants know the best way to reach you for the various needs they may have. For example, if it’s a maintenance request (emergency or otherwise), do they call a certain phone number? Or is there an online submission they should fill out? Should they text you? Make sure they know the best way to reach you for ‘normal’ versus ‘dire’ matters.

Being consistent will help keep you sane. It’ll allow you to know exactly where you communicated last with your tenant (or tenants). Using the tenant’s preferred method of contact can be helpful, but keeping track of that on a large scale can be a nightmare. Be sure to explain to them when they move in exactly how you’ll communicate important information to them and stick to it! In this day in age, a great way to get information to your tenants quickly is email. Also, this automatically creates a written record of correspondence which helps protect all parties. (You never know when you’ll need some written proof)

If you need a calendar of “when to reach out to my tenant”, many industry experts recommend reaching out on the same schedule as when your tenants pay rent. You don’t even need to have a long communication! Just remind the tenants that you’re there. That point of contact will make them more likely to call you when they have maintenance issues!

Provide Value

  • When you communicate with your tenants, make sure you provide value. If you’re sending them frequent messages but they don’t find any value, they’re going to start ignoring all of your correspondence. Don’t be like ‘junk mail’ to your tenants! Before you press “send” on your newsletter make sure you ask yourself “does this content either a) teach them something helpful or b) inform them of important coming events?” If you can say “yes” to one of those two options, go ahead and send it!

Like we alluded to above, newsletters or mass-memos can be a great way to quickly inform your tenants of property events. For instance, let’s say you need to repaint the lines in your parking lot. If you’re knocking on your tenant’s door last minute to ask them to move their car, not only will they be irritated, but you’re wasting your time. A better way to approach this would be to send out a memo a week prior to the scheduled painting. Send another a day in advance as a reminder to move vehicles to a pre-determined location. Tenants are usually reasonable about inconveniences that will benefit them in the long-run if you give them enough notice to accommodate.

Listen and Solve the Problems

  • The best way you can provide value is to actually help them when they reach out with issues. Listen to their problem, get them a solution quickly and calmly, follow up, and move on!

Another reason to listen closely to your tenants is that it shows you really care about them. One really easy way to prove this is to ask them for occasional feedback through surveys. This will not only show them you value their opinion, but it will provide you with tangible action items to improve your systems, properties, etc.

Hopefully this has given you some insight on how to communicate better with your tenants and maintain high-occupancy in your units without breaking the bank on advertising costs. When in doubt, communicate with your tenants the way you would want to communicated to if you were in their shoes.

Please remember the content of this website is simply intended for informational purposes and does not guarantee any financial results.

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