To mitigate damage to your communities and business, multifamily marketers and communications teams need accurate, consistent messaging across all digital platforms. Multifamily property managers are responsible for not only taking measures to slow the virus, but also keeping employees, residents, suppliers and tenants regularly informed.
Those tenants need specific, up-to-date COVID-19 information in your communications in order to stay safe. In this article, we will offer guidelines on how property management companies can communicate with residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
Anticipate COVID-19 Tenant Questions on All Platforms
The most common coronavirus-related communications will concern prevention practices, changes in office policies and resident policy adjustments, such as emergency-only maintenance.
Property managers need to anticipate questions from tenants on a global and local level, in addition to communicating what precautions are being taken and reminding staff of best practices.
These should be clear on both your property and corporate websites, across social media profiles, marketing communications, rental listings and your Google My Business profiles. And remember that even while coronavirus spreads, potential tenants are going to post questions on your pages.
Your communications plan should anticipate questions in the event that COVID-19 affects your properties. It should also include a central hub of available resources for tenants and employees.
Keep Tenants Informed on Coronavirus Developments
First and foremost, property managers need to collect and properly disseminate all available contact information for your staff, residents and suppliers. Have alternative communication methods ready (website, app, text), in case contact gets disrupted.
Your tenants have a host of concerns, so sending reminders via email and text message can help ensure that scheduled appointments and rent payments are under control. When the time is right, use a carefully crafted resident survey to understand their needs and how to better manage your coronavirus response.
With so many people working from home, you might need to remind residents who are acclimating to home life community guidelines like parking, smoking and trash pickup policies. However, a majority of your COVID-19 tenant communications should focus on the coronavirus at this time.
If Someone Gets Sick
As the virus spreads, your buildings become more likely to have a positive test. Implement a plan for notifications of tenant or staff diagnosis with COVID-19 and prepare notices to relevant third parties.
If tenants or staff members are diagnosed with COVID-19, your obligation to notify tenants will vary according to lease terms, public health mandates, state regulations and industry standards. If your notify a full building about tenants testing positive for the virus, consider applicable privacy laws and regulations. Your notification shouldn’t disclose the individual’s name, apartment number or other identifying characteristics, and it’s wise to consult your legal team before publishing.
Your online services are a keystone of keeping up with rent payments as the world reacts to the coronavirus.
Drive residents to web-based services, apps and portals. Avoid handling checks by encouraging electronic payments, which might include resending instructions on establish accounts and setting up online payments.
But apartment owners and operators are facing the reality that many residents won’t be able to make their rent payments – through no fault of their own. Your tenant communications plan should include instructions on residents with economic hardships contacting you to discuss options.
The National Multifamily Housing Council recommends that firms remind residents that there generally aren’t fees to pay by bank transfer. Offer tenants a clear line of communication for addressing financial new hardships – financial or otherwise – that can make expenses difficult to cover.
Small pieces of communication, like email announcements about the steps you’re taking to combat COVID-19, go a long way to encourage resident safety. And preventative information – even seemingly obvious ones – should populate your website, listings and social feeds.
Most multifamily communities are being advised to practice some level of social distancing, increased handwashing and cleaning of high-touch surfaces. In many states, apartment and condo communities are now subject to “shelter-in-place” orders requiring individuals to self-isolate in their residences except for certain essential travel and other functions.
The National Apartment Association encourages property managers to post CDC resources in public areas. Relevant information includes:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away.
- Frequently clean and disinfect touched objects and surfaces.
If you have the bandwidth as a marketer or communications specialist, you can also consider publishing COVID-19-related tenant communications for those looking for homeschooling, food options or rent assistance.
Updates for Potential Tenant Communications
No matter what changes you’ve made due to COVID-19, make sure your tenants and potential tenants are well aware of the situation. Update leasing office hours, contact information, maintenance availability and other changes across your website and listings. If you are still looking for tenants, make that apparent.
For prospects, make it clear if tours are available by appointment only. Even better, now is the time to use digital tools to virtually hold appointments and tour units. While your marketing shouldn’t freeze in its tracks, be sure to review any automated ads and marketing messages to ensure the content is appropriate in the current conditions.
Visit our COVID-19 Resources Page or read more on managing your online reputation during the COVID-19 crisis:
- COVID-19: Updates to Local Listings and Reviews on Google, Yelp
- Checklist for Managing Your Online Reputation During the COVID-19 Crisis
- Coronavirus and Your Listings Management Program: A 5 Item Checklist
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist