We've discussed the importance of crisis plans before from our perspective as Chesapeake property management. However, one element we didn't explore was that building a healthy relationship with your tenants is a crucial component of your crisis management response.
Without a doubt, it’s critical to be there for them when they have a problem with your property. Yet, in a time of crisis, it is even more important to take steps to keep the lines of communication open. How do you maintain tenant relationships during a pandemic or periods of social strife—especially when they are happening at the same time? If you’re a landlord in Chesapeake, here are some strategies to help you.
Foreword: If you've found this blog, it may be because you're facing a serious disaster scenario. While we are experts in Chesapeake property management, this blog is not intended to replace in-person legal counsel. If you need live support, get in touch with us!
Tell Them What You’re Doing
During a crisis, property management companies in Chesapeake that do the best work are those that strive to keep tenants and property owners educated about what they are doing. As a landlord, this principle applies to you as well.
- What are you doing to keep common surfaces clean if you own a multi-family property?
- What steps are you taking with your maintenance vendors to minimize contact?
- What payment plans are you offering for those who need assistance?
Perhaps the most important first step is to share that you know there’s a concern or crisis, and what you plan to do to address it. This creates a sense of care for your renters and has the added effect of making you more approachable.
Put People First Whenever Possible
Most property owners don’t have the luxury of skipping payments on mortgages—even in a disaster. That’s why it may seem difficult to offer tenants any real rental break. Yet, it pays to do your best to accommodate your renters anyway you can. If a tenant is putting off signing a lease during this time, they may be worried about their income over the next few months. Reach out, find out what you can do, and offer solutions to these heart-wrenching situations.
It’s also important to consider those you work with indirectly during this time. Your family and your tenants are a top priority, and the CDC has very specific guidance for handling any necessary contact during the pandemic. How does this relate to tenants? If you work with vendors who handle your maintenance concerns instead of a Chesapeake property management company, you need to know that their safety standards align with your own.
If those you hire to care for your properties and the needs of your renters come to work sick because they fear taking time off, not only does it put your tenant's health at risk, but it also puts your reputation on the line.
Show Compassion and Understanding
The people living in those homes are understandably worried about their health. If someone is ill, offer solutions to keep them at ease if they find themselves unable to work due to this illness.
If your renters reach out to you during this time because they need to collaborate with you on rental payments, kindness throughout this process will go a long way when it's time to renew a lease. Work to create renter payment plans that benefit you both.
Stick to the Lease as Legally Required
It’s also important to apply fair standards across the board for all tenants. That means if one person gets a break in rent, others should have that ability as well. Sometimes, it is best to simply keep to the terms in the lease in regards to factors such as late payments or tenant disputes. This can alleviate some of the concerns that you will face liability claims later.
This is one arena where working with Chesapeake property management can greatly benefit you as a landlord. Having a third party between you and your renters when you need to apply certain standards serves as a buffer for you and ensures that complaints are redirected elsewhere.
Maintain Consistency Across Your Rentals
When you have a single rental property, this is far easier to do as a landlord. However, things can begin to break down professionally if you have multiple rental properties that aren't under the guidance of property management.
- As a landlord, you should be working hard to communicate the same message across every property, not "spot-treating" issues.
- Remaining consistent with the communication methods you employ for each renter shows them you care about more than just collecting rent.
- Each of your renters should know what is expected of them, and that violations of their lease agreement during a crisis will still be handled professionally to protect your renters.
Ideally, consistent communication with your renters should be something you develop prior to a disaster. Investing your time into meaningful contact with your renters will benefit you before, during, and after any crisis.
The Right Management Makes a Difference
We know that it's challenging to be a property owner right now with everything going on in Chesapeake and across the nation. We aim to make all of this as easy as possible for you!
If you’re overwhelmed by the current crisis to the point where you can't keep up with the needs of your renters, reach out to learn more about what steps you can take right now. You can also get started quickly by downloading our free resource, the Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook.