Sometimes when you are a landlord, it can be hard to “turn off” your work and not let the line between your personal life and your property management business blur. This theory rings especially true in regards to social media, particularly if you are “friends” with your tenants in social networks.
There are several reasons, in both the positive and negative aspects, of why you would want to friend (or not) your tenants online. Three benefits to fostering an online friendship with your tenants could be for the following:
1) Sensitivity reasons. If you’re comfortable with sharing information about your personal life online, your tenants will feel a personal connection with you that can lead to tenant retention when their lease expires.
2) Indirect disclosure reasons. It’s easier to keep an “eye” on your property when you see the status update activity of your tenants. For example, if the tenant is often posting that they’re “taking the dog for another walk” and pets are not allowed on the premises, this will allow you to confront any potential issues before they become major problems. It’s also good to keep a pulse on where your tenants are working or hanging out if there ever becomes a time when you cannot reach them.
3) Communication reasons. Due to the ease of use with social media and the ability for it to be available on mobile devices, more and more people are using it to replace phone calls, voice mail and even emails. This can also make it easier for you to deal with any communication coming from your tenants and not be chained to your office.
However, sometimes watching the social media activity of your tenants can feel a little like espionage or eavesdropping. To avoid these types of feelings or the feelings of being a stand-in parent or babysitter to your tenants, or even the blurring of the professional/personal lines, here are three reasons of why you might consider avoiding “friending” your tenant on social media:
1) Security reasons. You may or may not want your tenants seeing your personal life played out in status updates and photos. However, you can combat this by limiting your profile settings and only allowing your tenants to see specific posts.
2) TMI reasons. And when the tables are turned in reason number one above in regards to security reasons– you may not want to see every post, update, photo or conversation that goes on in your tenant’s personal life. Too much information (TMI) may cause you to judge your tenant unfairly when they request a payment arrangement or maintenance request.
3) Consistency reasons. If you’re not consistent in your social media use, it could be detrimental if your tenant decides to send you an urgent message via the social network about an issue with their property or account, you may not receive it in a timely manner.
There really is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of whether or not you should confirm your tenant’s friend request. It comes down to what boundaries you want to set in an online world. And this doesn’t just apply to your landlord/tenants, but real estate agent/client relationships and just about any other online work and personal connection you may have.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.