If you are managing your own property, being able to keep in contact with your tenants is vital. But with physical post a thing of the past and/or junk mailers, and a plethora of digital communication platforms available, which one should you use?
A question as old as time itself – should you add your tenants on Facebook? Initially this might seem like a good idea, allowing you to keep tabs on what’s going on with your property – but let’s face it, would you let your landlord “Friend” you? There’s a fine line between keeping an eye on the comings and goings of your tenants and stalking their selfies to see if the toothpaste marks have been cleaned off the bathroom mirror yet. Ignorance is bliss; stick to the baby pics.
Connecting with your tenants on LinkedIn is a smart move. The formal nature of the business-oriented social network is ideal for not getting too pally with them. Also, it will allow you to keep updated on the only thing that really matters – that they haven’t been fired and are able to pay the rent.
If you really must spy on your tenants, Instagram may be the way to go. Unlike Facebook you can snoop on them without sharing any of your own information. Unfortunately, if you want to find out whether your property is being kept in tip top condition, you may be in for disappointment – you’re more likely to get a close-up of the meals they cook than whether the shower mould has grown. Still, at least you know the cooker’s still working.
WhatsApp is a smart way to keep in touch with tenants, especially if they are on the younger side – students love using it. It is also particularly handy for contacting multiple tenants at once, simply add them to a WhatsApp group and broadcast out a message. As an added bonus you can mute the group – your phone will receive the messages but you won’t get notifications. This allows you keep connected with your tenants without feeling that you are on call 24/7.
Following your tenants on Twitter could be a smart move. Clicking follow is much less intrusive than adding them on some of the other social networks, yet it still allows you access to breadcrumb trail of their day to day life. Be warned though – even the savviest of the Twitterati are prone to pouring out weird and wonderful short-form content that doesn’t necessarily give evidence of suitable tenancy.
While using Snapchat might seems like an usual way to connect with your tenants, for a landlord with a sense of fun it might work out. The light-hearted nature of the app could encourage tenants to own up to minor indiscretion – for instance they might send you a picture of a broken bedside lamp with a sad smiley and the word sorry. Or you might get receive a snap at 4am of your brand new Ikea Puang chair covered in vomit – it’s a risky choice. But it’s not great for record-keeping; most messages disappear once they’re viewed (unless you work for the intelligence services).
Texting has an old school authority that will make your tenants feel like they are talking with their mother. Using it concisely, sparingly and formally will lend a gravitas to your communication that you might not get from anything else on this list. Added bonus: no WhatsApp “seen” or “last online” timestamps to give away your round-the-clock snooping. Seriously, go to bed.
Video-calling is bold choice, but could be a smart option for troubleshooting problems with your property without having to physically visit it – a useful option for landlords with a large property portfolio. If you do communicate this way, keep things as formal as possible. Light yourself well, dress smartly and sit in front of a white background – your tenants won’t take you seriously if you Skype from bed in your jammies.
Are your tenants technological luddites? There’s always the trusty Post-It note. Sneak in when they’re out* and leave passive-aggressive messages all around the house.
*this may violate both the tenancy agreement and the law. Please landlord responsibly.