Updated 1, 2022.
When a disaster strikes, everyone looks for information about what’s happening, what to do, and how to find help. As a landlord, it’s your job to maintain the lines of communications with tenants during disasters—even if you’re still piecing your information together, too.
When COVID-19 first began affecting our everyday life and how we operate in the rental property industry, rental property owners looked to news sources, the CDC, and government resources to learn how to adjust to social distancing protocols. You and your tenants rely on up-to-date information to stay safe and functional during uncertain times.
They also need to hear from you! However, without the right communication, tenants won’t know how to reach you or pay the rent. If you’re more of a behind-the-scenes landlord, a crisis can pull you out front and center as the go-to resource for your tenants. To keep communication open during disasters, follow these tips from your fellow investors as we highlight how to respond from the perspective of expert property management!
Please note: This article is not intended as a substitute for the great legal advice of a skilled attorney. It’s designed to help property owners get a little footing during these troubling times for our community. If you need direct legal counsel, reach out to your allies at Reeder Asset Management.
Consolidate Communications Through Email
You probably use phone calls, texts, emails, and perhaps even an online portal to communicate with tenants on a routine basis. During a crisis, it’s essential to get everyone on the same platform to stay up to date with you!
Email is one of the most consistent ways to establish disaster communication protocols. It’s an excellent way to send an all-tenant email update once a week to keep people informed about current social distancing protocols or other updates during a crisis.
Plan Ahead for Email
Do you have a valid email address for each of your tenants? If not, some tenants could miss important updates from you. If you’re still working on your disaster communication plan or thinking ahead in case we need it again, start planning now.
You’ll need to:
- Reach out to each tenant and confirm a current email address: If tenants lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and the down economy, they might need to provide a new email address to replace a former work address.
- Create a tenant email list: This saves time and makes sure no one gets left out of an email update.
- Set up an email template and schedule: It doesn’t need to be complicated. Choose a day once or twice a week for regular disaster updates.
Let tenants know about your disaster communication protocol. If they know to look for updates in their email inbox on Mondays and Thursdays, they’ll feel informed and won’t miss any critical information from you.
Streamlining your disaster communication to email also helps you manage your time. Property owners don’t need to provide the same information via email, text, or phone call. That can get time-consuming and keep you from taking care of properties and tenants.
Train your tenants to depend on their email to receive important updates from you throughout a crisis.
What Should You Communicate?
Tenants probably aren’t looking to you for insight into COVID-19 or any disaster situation—and you shouldn’t try to be a 24-hr news source for your residents. Communications should be relevant to your properties and tenants. Being proactive with information about how the crisis affects them can include:
- Changes to operating hours and locations (working from home, leasing office closed, etc.)
- How to handle maintenance requests during the crisis
- How to reach you
- Local resources to help with rental or food assistance
- How to pay the rent during social distancing
- How government regulations affect rental property operations.
Check on your tenants and make sure they know you’re there for them. Reaching out one-on-one or sending regular updates doesn’t have to include a lot of information. Tenants need reassurance that you’re monitoring the situation, and you have a plan.
Expert property management can help you develop a communication plan for a crisis! Don’t wait until you need it: know how you’ll reach tenants before a disaster creates uncertainty for your residents.
Continue Communicating After a Disaster
Good, consistent landlord-tenant communication should take place year-round. After a crisis, you can “pause” your disaster updates. However, make sure your tenants still hear from you throughout the year.
- Excellent communication helps build relationships with your tenants!
- Continue checking in with tenants from time to time.
- Don’t overwhelm them with too many texts, calls, or emails.
- However, it’s crucial that they hear from you to know you’re there.
Providing excellent service for your properties year-round begins with next-level communication skills.
Property Management Can Help You Communicate!
Not every rental property owner enjoys dealing with tenants. Being behind the scenes is a great place to be—as long as you have professional property management to handle your communication needs before, during, and after a crisis.
The Reeder Asset Management team has the experience to handle tenant communications during good times and crisis events. We also have a process to encourage tenants to pay the rent during a disaster. Learn more about how we work with our free resource, the Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook!