Landlords seeking to keep good tenants in place would do well to communicate and connect as the coronavirus plague continues to roil lives and markets. That's the takeaway from the sixth and final round of nationwide surveys of tenants taken during the pandemic by ApartmentRatings and SatisFacts Research. Here's a link to the whole series. The sixth round focused on communications and can be downloaded here.
ApartmentRatings and SatisFacts Research are sister operations under Internet Brands. SatisFacts provides resident surveys that focus on multifamily retention and reputation management as part of a technology platform the company says educates renters themselves while helping property managers attract, understand, and retain tenants through data and education.
Timely communications through multiple channels serves two purposes: keeping tenants informed while providing proof apartment managers are at work, even if their offices are closed.
"As operators and renters continue to navigate this pandemic, there should be no worry that overcommunicating is a bad thing," the report says.
No change in satisfaction found since the spring
The latest survey was taken through the month of September and found 38% of tenants were working at home, while 86% of them were not sure for how long that would be the case. Meanwhile, the number of leasing/rental offices that are completely closed has fallen sharply to 9.5% in September from 29.7% six months ago.
But, the report says, while more offices are opened and staffed, renters have found the amount and frequency of pandemic-related communication to be an ongoing struggle. The report says, "There has been virtually no change in satisfaction over six months, which is why 'management decisions' due to COVID-19' has once again appeared in the top five renewal detractors."
The top five renewal detractors, according to the survey, are:
- Overall community quality.
- Apartment appearance and condition.
- Office staff.
- Safety/sense of security.
The report found 73.7% of respondents have received COVID-19 communications. Overall, 39.9% of the respondents said they are "not likely" to renew their leases, and 27.5% said they are "very likely" to renew.
The researchers stress that ensuring residents feel connected to where they live will influence that renewal decision, and social media should be a go-to tactic for creating that bond. Before the pandemic, renters may not have paid much attention, but now they're very much aware of a rental community's social media efforts.
The researchers wrote: "They're now looking to social media and a means to connect and keep in touch with those around them, and that also includes the communities in which they live. Making certain residents feel connected to where they live will positively impact future renewal decisions."
There's a sample weekly communication/social media calendar free for downloading with the survey's round three whitepaper.
The report concludes: "Communication and connection are the tenets of a sense of community and serve to make residents feel valued and important... Over the next six months, we recommend teams are communicating and connecting on a daily basis with residents."
Even just diminishing churn is a good thing for rental investors and managers, and tenants who feel engaged would seem more likely to stick around if they can -- and perhaps even feel a sense of communal ownership that will benefit both them and their landlords.