May 26, 2020
Addressing Tenant Concerns During the COVID-19 Pandemic: 3 Tips
Addressing tenant concerns has always been an important part of managing multi-unit properties. But recent financial hardships, unemployment and uncertainty have made it more important than ever. Here are three tips for communicating with tenants and addressing their concerns.
Communication may seem like an obvious tip, but the pandemic has made many basic property management activities a challenge.
Evictions are suspended. Maintenance and showings which are normally routine are now suspended due to social distancing and quarantine efforts. And with unemployment at 14.7%, tenants are having troubling making rent and utilities.
Under these circumstances, the most important tool for addressing these problems is communication. Many tenants will have concerns about how your property is responding to the crises. Communicating with them can resolve concerns while giving them the information they need to respond to accommodations you might need from them.
Communication also helps landlords. If you establish open communication lines early, tenants are more likely to let you know when they might be late on rent. Moreover, tenants might also have suggestions that could help both tenants and management.
A good way to ensure these things is to announce them well in advance. It gives all parties time to consider possible outcomes and prepare.
Figuring out what exactly to do in these situations can be tough. It’s usually best to look to public health guidelines, industry trade outlets and online community groups with other landlords.
Staying on top of communicating with dozens or hundreds of tenants can be time-consuming. Some landlords that need help with this turn to RBC (read, bill, collect) companies for customer support.
Introduce Education on Utility Billing
If you’re billing tenants for utilities, educating tenants is a critical part of making sure the program is successful. It’s an often-overlooked way to increase collections. If you want to get tenants to pay, help them understand what you’re asking them to do.
When tenants don’t understand how the bill is calculated, they ask questions and raise concerns. Any reasonable person would have concerns about bills with no explanation of the charge. And now that the country is in a recession, many tenants are going to be vigilant about unexplained expenses.
At the same time, you might also be changing the way you’re running your billing program. Many properties are adding new, contactless payment methods while discontinuing traditional, paper-based ones. To make this switch without issue, you can consider what questions your tenants might have and address them preemptively.
An effective approach to addressing tenant concerns, and sometimes prevent them, is to educate tenants on your billing initiatives and how the program works.
An easy way to do this is to include explanations of the bill on the invoice and then field whatever questions or concerns a tenant might have. We’ve seen landlords achieve 100% collection rates without concerning tenants by just doing this.
Get Help From Experts
When the world’s uncertain, it’s hard to have all the answers. That’s why, to help address tenant needs, many landlords are turning to outside help. And that means utility billing companies.
Because they work with many properties, RBCs can see trends across your market. This provides context to what strategies are most effective.
Say, for example, you’re considering helping your tenants by waving late fees on utility payments. An RBC could let you know if the market is taking more aggressive steps. You could then make sure you’re still competitive.
Some RBCs can also assist with collecting rents and providing payment methods.
Addressing tenant concerns during a pandemic is no easy task. But there are steps you can take to establish open communication and ensure the safety of everyone on your property. And if you need direction on how to do any of it, an RBC will be able to help.