News & Information: Patty the Property Manager

Dear Patty - Efficient Communications

Wednesday, October 5, 2011  
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Dear Patty the Property Manager,

What is the most effective way to communicate with landlords and tenants? I just started my property management career and would like to establish a standard on how to transmit all information in the most effective method.

--Newbie Communicator

Dear Newbie Communicator,

Welcome to your new career! Everything you say, write, text, e-mail, record, videotape, chat, whisper, etc., will be used against you in the court of law. Taking in consideration the above I would recommend a simple and clear approach.

Be timely — waiting too long to respond to a concerned tenant or landlord could make the matter escalate to something that would have been resolved much easier if you took charge immediately. Try to respond to customers within 24 hours of their contacting you.

  • Be factual — sugarcoating the facts is not a good way to inform customers. Eventually the facts will speak for themselves. On the other hand, over reacting when communicating may result in chaos; however, do not communicate things that you have not confirmed yet. For example: "Mr. Landlord, there was a fire in the kitchen yesterday. Don’t worry; we will be taking care of it with the tenant since they were the ones cooking at the time of the fire.” What if the fire was caused by electric malfunction of an appliance or even a lighting strike? You are better off communicating the incident, investigating, and then providing a complete report and recommending an action plan.
  • Be courteous and respectful — never engage in any form of communication with your customers when you are upset. Usually when this happens you will transmit a message in a way you would have never done if you were calm and collected. You also would use a better vocabulary.
  • Many long-time practitioners in property management have a set of templates, checklists, and forms that have been reviewed by their attorneys and will eliminate the need to improvise and essentially limit your liability.  Also, they save a lot of time.

Another good practice is to confirm important conversations by e-mail or letter. This way you keep a good record on file in case you need to refer back to it.

No matter what tool you are using (e-mail, text, letter, etc.) always keep in mind that you were hired to give service. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and be the best communicator and property manager you can be.

Good luck,


"Patty the Property Manager” appears courtesy of the ORRA Property Management Subcommittee. Readers are invited to submit property management related questions to Patty by sending an e-mail to

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