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Should You Text Your Tenant?

· Scott Safadi,Palo Alto California,housingforgoogle,Atari-themed,San Jose

Human communication is ever-evolving. From the telegrams and morse code of yesteryear to the Snapchats and Facebook messages of today, the way we communicate with one another can say a lot about the things we value. Of course, as the way we chat with friends and family off the clock changes, so do the ways we communicate at work. While your staff may be on a text basis with one another, texting your tenants is a different story. Cal Bay Property Management's Scott Safadi recommends practicing caution when determining whether or not to text your tenants.

Why? Because texting can be a bit like opening Pandora's Box. Text a tenant to let them know they have a package to pick up in the office and you may soon receive replies not about their delivery, but about their air conditioning unit going out or their neighbor throwing a party. Texting is a two way street - at least until it isn't.

There are services that can act as a go-between you and your tenants and still offer many of the same conveniences as a text. Rather than associate your personal or even business phone number with a text, send reminders to tenants to pick up packages or to pay their rent from a third-party app. Should tenants try to text back, they'll be reminded that no human is actually monitoring replies and that any questions should be directed to your office.

Of course, these kinds of alerts work great for certain kinds of messages, but not all. If you have a sensitive topic to discuss, like a late rent payment, getting a text about it can feel impersonal, especially if it's run through a third-party app. Rely on such a service and you risk alienating a tenant over something that might normally have been a run-of-the-mill conversation.

So should you text your tenants? Ultimately, the call is yours. As we rely more and more upon digital forms of communication to chat with friends, family and colleagues, it makes sense that our discussions with our tenants go that way too. Because property management professionals are used to exercising caution when it comes to tenant communications, we tend to be overly careful about adopting new technology in that space. As long as you trust your instincts and leave the sensitive discussions for phone calls or in person chats, texting is a fine opportunity to keep your tenants in the loop.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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