With many states reopening during these continued days of COVID-19, it is more important now than at any other time to keep lines of communication open between you and your renters. For example, Maryland's stay-at-home order expired on May 15th, and the governor replaced this with a new health advisory. That means if you haven't been working with Maryland property management, you should be acting now regarding contact with your residents.
Though the crisis is several months old, that does not mean it is going to be over anytime soon. Your renters are likely wondering what options they have when disasters strike to continue meeting the obligations of their lease. Again, if you're not working with a skilled Rent Estate™Advisors at Renters Warehouse, it becomes your responsibility to provide this information before, during, and after disasters occur. Let's look at how to make that possible!
Please note: This article is not intended to be used as direct legal counsel. When in doubt, you should always reach out to your attorney or the experts at Renters Warehouse!
Use Email to Keep up to Date With Your Renters
Email is probably one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with your residents during a crisis. When an applicant fills out a rental application at the start of your working relationship with them, you might have asked them to provide their email address.
You can approach email communication in a couple of ways.
#1: Mass Email Updates
Use a software program to stay in touch with your renters through scheduled updates. This is an excellent option for property investors with multiple properties, and email happens to be more convenient used than other forms of communication.
- Outline information about updates that you receive regarding the disaster in question. This information could be anything from when the state is reopening to planning for rental payments after the emergency.
- Emails are also an excellent way to share resources with your renters. Some residents might need rental assistance or other programs.
- When they see that you are a source of this information, that helps open up the lines of communication.
#2: One-On-One Contact
While taking this step might be a bit more time-consuming, many of your renters will appreciate the personalized approach to your outreach attempts.
For example, if you are not sure how a specific renter is coping with a disaster, reach out to them individually. They might feel worried or embarrassed about their situation. Hearing from you in a relaxed setting helps alleviate those feelings and develops "tradelines of trust" you can turn to in the future.
No two disasters or emergencies are going to be the same. In the case of COVID-19, according to Maryland's emergency order, evictions are on hold if your renters are unable to make payments due to the pandemic. Therefore, working with your residents also happens to be paramount for your own success. Working with a Maryland property management professional during this time can be a tremendous asset in this regard, given they serve as a professional buffer between you and your renters when it comes to personal information.
For example, it is not appropriate for investors to demand rental payments throughout a disaster if there are government regulations in place which prevent this (which is exactly what we see happening in the District of Columbia). Instead, email must be used carefully to inquire about:
- The health of everyone on the property
- How the disaster is affecting your renters financially
- If your residents have lost their job due to the disaster and may need aid
- For those who lost their jobs, what resources they can access to meet the obligations of their lease.
How Good Communication Benefits You
Even when times are good for investors, you should be cultivating consistent contact with your renters! This means they're less likely to feel concerned or wary when they hear from you. Developing a normalized rapport between you and your renters also means they're more likely to reach out to you in an emergency!
You can further cement this working relationship by:
- Answering all messages promptly.
- Addressing repairs and other concerns immediately.
- Inspecting your properties when renovation requests come in.
- Responding to any safety concerns or emergencies your renters have immediately.
Each time you check in with your renters, ask them if they are still happy living in your rental. If you get any other answer beyond a positive one, it's time to dig deeper into why.
The last thing any rental property owner should do is neglect their renters during a disaster! Not only does this cause issues with collecting rent after the emergency is over, but it makes your residents feel like no one cares what they are going through.
Instead of waiting for a disaster to occur, make checking on the satisfaction of your residents part of your monthly routine. That does not mean reaching out to every renter every week. Instead, divide your residents up by week to ensure each one receives a call, text, or email message at least once monthly.
If this sounds like a tremendous addition to your workload, you can streamline your efforts by working with a skilled Maryland property management company to manage all forms of communication with your residents!
Communication in a Crisis Matters
No one likes the thought of disaster striking. However, when one occurs, working with a property manager can help ensure your properties, renters, and finances are organized and profitable. A great deal of that success begins with your communication.
To get a better understanding of how good communication benefits you during the rent collection process, download your free copy of our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook to learn more!