New on #AptChat: How to Deliver Bad News to Residents

apartment chat


Each week, we tune into the Twitter-based chats going on between property managers at #AptChat to bring you helpful tips. The theme of a recent chat was “How to Deliver Bad News to Residents.” In this context, “bad news” could be anything from a rent increase, to an eviction notice, to a death in the family.

Here’s a summary of the Apartment Chat discussion:

What are some common types of bad news that you’ve had to deliver to residents, either one-to-one or to the entire community?

The following are examples various managers threw out:

  • Rent increases
  • Wi-fi or other services down (it was mentioned that service failures are sticky, since renters are paying not to have to deal with this sort of inconvenience).
  • Pest issues
  • Eviction/non-renewal
  • Deaths
  • Staff changes
  • Occupancy limit exceeded
  • Policy changes (such as changes during onboarding)

Participants agreed that delivering bad news such as an eviction notice is particularly hard when someone is down on their luck (for example, has lost a job), and a lot easier if the person is simply irresponsible or has behaved badly.

Do you have standard communication templates/responses for common occurrences? Who’s responsible for those messages?

The answer here was that the form of response depends on the sort of news it is. A standardized yet customizable email template works well for getting a message across quickly.  But for personal matters, while there are standardized letters, there’s “never a standardized conversation.”

apartment chat

Do you have processes in place to review messages before they go out? Anything to avoid sending the wrong message?

The first respondent said simply: “Proper training.” Other managers agreed that yes, it was important to have policies or procedures in place rather than improvising when delivering bad news, and that non-standard communications should always get a second set of eyes. One participant said her company’s policy changes are generally issued by corporate.

What are some tips you’ve learned about delivering a rent increase? Any ways to “soften the blow”?

Managers agreed about the importance of looking at local comps and having this information ready so as to be able to explain to renters that “it’s not just us, it’s the whole market.” Where applicable, you can always also let them know that they’re getting things they wouldn’t get from the other properties.

One participant suggested being prepared to discuss the cost of moving vs. a rent increase, since often renters forget to think about the hassles and expenses of moving when they decide to leave due to higher rent. You might convince them it makes more sense to stay.

What format/channels are you using to deliver bad news to residents? Through the portal? Email? Paper? In person?

One manager answered that at her property the form of message delivery depends on the resident, but another said that all forms are acceptable – with property-wide notices always being written ones. Another participant said their online portal was being used increasingly for property-wide notices and event notifications.

Stay tuned to our blog for future coverage of the important subjects property managers are discussing on Apartment Chat!


Author and Contributor

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Based in New Orleans, Guy Lyman is a professional writer with over 25 years’ experience writing about multifamily and commercial real estate. Lyman is a frequent contributor and writer for the Property Management Insider blog.

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