At various points in time when managing a rental property, you’ll need to get in contact with your tenant. It could be to provide them with formal notice that you need access to the property, remind them that their rent is due, or simply ask them if one of your recent repairs is still working properly.
If and when you need to contact a tenant, what are the best ways to do it? There are many mediums and communication possibilities in the modern era, so which ones should you be using?
Email and Portal Communications
Let’s start by looking at email, and by extension, communications within a property management portal/platform, which function mostly the same.
These are some of the advantages:
- Documentation. Writing and sending an electronic message serves as a kind of official documentation with your tenants. If there’s ever a dispute between you and your tenant in the future over this issue, you will be able to point to the email you sent and prove that you said what you said. Likewise, if your tenant says something they eventually come to regret, email allows you to prove that they said it.
- Professionalism. Email and official communications through the portal are generally seen as professional. These are somewhat formal forms of communication that add some gravity to your words.
- Convenient access. For most people, access to email is both easy and convenient. As long as you have an internet connection and a device that can access messages, you should be able to read these communications easily.
- Thoughtful wording. Unlike conversations over the phone or in person, you won’t have to speak on the fly. Instead, you can think through all of your phrases and words with as much time as you need. Because of this, your emails will probably be better worded and more coherent than your spoken speech.
- Immediate delivery. Like all forms of electronic communication, emails afford you immediate delivery. After hitting send, your message will immediately hit your recipient’s inbox.
These are some of the potential drawbacks:
- Accessibility issues. Some people may struggle to access email or refuse to access it regularly. Some people are unfamiliar with this technology, some people will have internet connectivity issues, and some people will be too lazy to check their email regularly. Accordingly, you can’t always guarantee that your tenants will read all of your messages.
- Impersonal nature. Email can be seen as cold and impersonal. If you have to break some bad news, or if you’re just checking in, this may not be the place to do it.
- Delays in responding. Despite being fast in terms of transmission, email conversations tend to unfold slowly. If you need an immediate response, email isn’t the best platform for it.
- Minimal room for dialogue. Similarly, email isn’t designed for rapid, back-and-forth conversation. If you need to talk something out, consider choosing a different medium.
Now let’s look at text messages. These are some of the benefits:
- Documentation. Like with email, text messages provide you with formally documented proof of your conversation.
- Convenient access. Most people send and receive text messages daily, so they have convenient access to whatever you’re sending.
- Thoughtful wording. You won’t have as much space to work with as you will with email, but you can still think through your words with as much time as you need.
- Immediate delivery. Text messages are sent and received immediately (barring any technical issues).
- Informality and speed. The informality and speed with which text messages can be exchanged makes them ideal for quick conversations. If you just need a fast answer to a simple question, or if you’re just verifying something, this medium is perfect.
These are some of the drawbacks:
- Potential interruptions. Text messages can sometimes be obtrusive. You’ll need to think carefully and send your text messages at a reasonable hour if you want to avoid annoying your tenant.
- Truncated formats. These messages are designed to be short, so if you have a lot to say, you’re better off choosing a different medium.
- Somewhat unprofessional style. Text messages aren’t necessarily unprofessional, but they’re seen as less formal than other modes of communication.
What about phone calls?
Phone calls are excellent complements to emails and text messages for a couple of reasons:
- Personal interaction. Phone calls are much more personal. They provide you with an opportunity to be more expressive and convey tone, and they’re seen as much warmer forms of interaction by most people.
- Ample room for dialogue. If you have a complicated issue to discuss, emails and text messages don’t provide you with the environment you need to be successful. But with phone calls, there’s ample room for dialogue.
There are a few downsides to phone calls, however:
- Timing issues. Before you can have a conversation, both parties need to be available. Mistiming your calls could make it impossible to reach your tenant.
- Potential legal complexities. In some areas, you’re not legally allowed to record a phone call without the consent of the other party. In some areas, information exchanged over the phone doesn’t constitute a legally binding contract. Be wary of these legal complexities.
- Less thoughtful wording. If you’re improvising a conversation, you won’t have as much time to think through your words as you would with email or text messages.
It’s also possible to communicate through snail mail, which is, for the most part, a slow and antiquated method of communicating. However, it can be valuable for sending some forms of official communication, especially if they’re not pressing.
If you have a formal legal notice to provide to your tenant, serve it to them in person or post it on their front door. Typically, laws dictate how you should provide these notices and when and where you’re responsible for providing them.
Using Multiple Mediums
Also, keep in mind that you can always use multiple communication mediums in tandem with each other. For example, if you have a lot to explain, you can send a long email to your tenant, then follow up with a quick text message asking them to check their inbox.
If communicating with tenants is difficult for you, or if you’re never sure which medium you should use, don’t worry. There’s another solution available to you. If you work with the property management company, you may never have to interact with the tenant directly; your property managers will take care of tenant screening, onboarding, managing tenant requests, and more. If you’re interested in more information, contact us today!