Should You or Should You Not Text Your Tenants?

Texting a tenant can be a very convenient way to communicate with them.  It’s an easy way to have a quick, real time conversation with them without having to call them on the phone.

Receiving a text is also convenient and quick. This can be a blessing, but it could also create headaches. If you plan on using texting as a form of communication with tenants, it is best to lay out guidelines for communication at the beginning of the relationship.

Establish guidelines for texting with tenants right from the beginning.

When you’re signing a lease, it is wise to put in writing what your preferred method of communication is. When it comes to texting, put the following guidelines in place:

 

  1. Make sure the tenant is able and willing to receive text messages.  Some people don’t like texting. There is also a generation of people who don’t have cell phones and won’t have the ability to text. What is convenient for you might be something your tenant isn’t able or willing to do. Getting on the same page at the beginning will help set expectations.
  2. Put it in writing.  In the lease agreement, you should have the methods of communication written out. For example, if you have a specific way you want maintenance work orders to come in, that should be detailed in the lease. If you’re using texting for emergencies only, then you need to detail what your definition of an emergency is. The lease should also state that the tenant is responsible to notify you if the tenant changes their phone number.
  3. Specify what you will be texting to the tenant.  Put in writing the information you will be texting to the tenant.  Just like you don’t want the tenant texting you whenever they want, they don’t want to get random text messages from their landlord.  Limit yourself to these situations listed in the lease agreement and do not text any personal information to the tenant.
  4. Specify when the tenant can text to you. The last thing you want is a text from your tenant on Sunday night with random questions. If you are going to allow your tenant to text you, it would be wise to list the times the tenant can send you a text.

 

Know when to avoid texting a tenant.

There are some situations where texting isn’t the right tool for communication. For example:

 

  1. Don’t send text messages that convey anger or frustration. If you find yourself in a situation that causes an emotional response, step away and take a breather. Then, do not respond in text. Situations like this should be done over email to help create a paper trail. If it gets to a point where it activates your “Spidy-senses”, then it should be done on paper. This leads to point #2.
  2. Don’t text information if you might need a paper trail. If you suspect that you may need to keep a record that a certain communication was delivered, make sure the communication is on paper and delivered appropriately.
  3. Don’t text formal written notices to a tenant.  Most states and counties have an organization with formal forms. you can use to provide written notices to your tenant. If for some reason you cannot find that resource in your area, we suggest discussing this with an attorney to get an official notice that you can use for your tenants.

 

Texting tenants can be an efficient way to communicate, saving property managers time and money.  If you know when and when not to use text, it can be a valuable tool.