Reader Question: Texting Tenants

texting-34417_640I received this question a few days ago from a reader – what do you think of texting with your tenants?

When I first started managing my properties I was happy to hand out my cell number in order to promptly respond to my tenants requests.  I thought that I was being a helpful landlord and showing that I was super responsive to my tenants.  Soon I would realize that it was better to create a bit of separation in my Real Estate business.

I was on vacation in Haliburton and a tenant who was late with their rent decided to tell me their life story and why the rent was so late.  This particular tenant was getting upset and we were having a discussion via text message, instead of me enjoying my vacation I was dealing with a tenancy issue.  Truthfully, the issue could have easily handled by one email when I got back or I could have not responded to the messaging.

You are creating an open communication environment by having many different avenues for your tenants to contact you, but really what you are saying to your tenant is that you are “always available”.  This is a good when there is an emergency, but not so good when you are on vacation.

If you are going to text with your tenants I suggest you follow these simple rules:

  1. Use a separate phone number that you can use for texting. There are services and apps that allow you to create a unique phone number to send and receive texts and calls.  One inexpensive example is http://www.textnow.com.
  2. Set boundaries and expectations around what times you will respond to text messages.  For example 9am to 5pm – creating business hours or all text messages will be responded to within 24 hours.
  3. Use an SMS backup service for your smart phone.    On android you can use SMS Backup Plus.  This allows you to print off a paper copy of your text conversations.
  4. Be careful that you don’t respond too quickly to text messages.
  5. Do not serve notices by text message or by email either.

If you plan to scale your real estate portfolio into a number of rental properties and you want to manage your portfolio yourself, I suggest that you insist on email communication or use an virtual voicemail sytsem with voice to text option as outlined in The Property Managment Toolbox.  This gives you a copy of the communication which is always handy, and it creates a single process for your tenants to follow when reporting repairs or maintenance issues.

 

 

Comments on Reader Question: Texting Tenants

  1. Addy Saeed says:

    great points worth noting Quentin… I personally don’t publish my cell phone numbers to tenants or clients unless they specifically request it and even then I tell them that this is a business line and if they want immediate response, they should be sending an email followed by phone call to a phone number to make sure someone is able to help them out…

    Keep these posts coming… 🙂

    1. Quentin says:

      Nice. So you redirect them to the communication line that you prefer. Will do!

  2. Great topic Quentin! I have roughly 60 tenants that I manage and give them my cell number as a means of contacting me. As the number of tenants grew so did the frequency of texts and the amount of stress I had in my off time. I’ve started “expectation management” with my tenants, so when I go over how to contact me I let them know that i am off a couple of days during the week and am on call evenings and weekends for urgent matters. They know I won’t get back to them right away if they text when it’s not my regular business hours. I’ve also downloaded an auto-responder on my cell so if I’m not working they get a text back saying that if it’s not urgent they won’t hear back from me until the next “business” day. It seems to be working well so far and I’m just a little bit more sane:)

    1. Quentin says:

      Great point about expectation management. What is the autoresponder that your using on your phone?

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