Effective communication with your tenants is vital -- for a variety of reasons. For one, you need to stay top of mind. With all that's going on in the world, it's easy for property maintenance and even the monthly rent to fall through the cracks. Regular communication ensures those things don't happen.
Additionally, you also want the tenant to feel comfortable coming to you with problems. If the toilet is backed up, there's a pest infestation on the property, or something else is awry, you want a heads-up right away -- before the issue worsens and hurts that bottom line.
How are you doing at communicating with your tenants? Want to improve your game? Here's how to do it:
1. Keep it professional and respectful
Respect begets respect, so don't talk down to your tenants or get too friendly. Be clear, concise, and direct in your communications, and make sure you're polite, too. A little "please" and "thank you" never hurt anyone -- in fact, it might actually keep those tenants around longer.
2. Automate the important stuff
Unless you want to manually send out a dozen emails or texts every month, you might want to consider automating the more important messages -- things like rent-due notices, lease renewal reminders, and other more formal items. Many property management platforms allow you to do this, as do basic marketing tools like customer relationship management systems (CRMs) and newsletter tools.
Automating these tasks will ultimately save you time and, in today's weird world, ensure the job gets done -- no matter what may be going on around you.
3. Stick to business hours unless they contact you first
Even if you don't have set office hours, operate like you do when communicating with tenants. Keep texts and emails between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time, and avoid contacting them late at night or on the weekends unless you absolutely have to. (If they contact you during off-hours first, feel free to respond. Just don't initiate after-hours contact.)
4. Don't show up unannounced
You might legally own the property, but you should still be mindful of your tenant's need for privacy. Unless they've given you a reason to think they're damaging your property or violating their lease, give them a heads-up if you plan to come over. Violating those assumptions of privacy is an easy way to get on a renter's bad side, or worse, lose a tenant entirely.
5. Be flexible and fast
Give your tenants multiple ways to contact you -- an email address, a phone number, and an in-case-of-emergency option, too. Most tenants don't reach out unless it's important, so make sure they have plenty of ways to get in touch when they need to.
You should also commit to quick response times. That doesn't mean you have to address the issue at hand right away (unless it's an emergency), but you should acknowledge the message and give the tenant an estimated timeline for your full response or the requested repair.
6. Make sure it's well documented
This one's super important. Whenever you communicate with a tenant, always make sure the conversation is documented and that there's a paper trail if at all possible. Set your phone to store text message conversations indefinitely, and stow any email communications in a dedicated folder on your computer. You want to be able to refer back to those messages when needed or, in case some sort of legal issue crops up, use them to protect yourself.
7. Finally, remember that we're all human
At the end of the day, your tenant is a person -- one with their own world of responsibilities, stressors, and feelings. Be respectful of each other (as well as each other's time), and keep your conversations open, honest, and candid. It will benefit both parties in the long run.
Want more help keeping those tenants around? Try these tips for being a good landlord.