And so it begins…. Please read this article before you go any further. “Corporate Meltdown Leaves Renters in Limbo”
My argument to compete against homes for rent written at the end of 2008 is out the window. Now owners of apartment communities are losing their investments and the fallout is impacting their former residents and will begin to impact all of us in one way or another. For management companies looking to grow, if you’re on top of things, you should be able to pick up some management deals out of this and there will be business out there for everybody. You just need to decide if this type of business is a fit or a distraction for your current business model.
While this situation is hopefully an extreme exception to the rule, the resident quoted in the article is 100% correct. She “shouldn’t have to pay $800 a month to live in a… hole.” Listen to her story.
So the question is, how do we make it easier on the residents? There’s not much that can be done to change this specific situation as it unfolded, but there is much that can be done once new management takes over. For the management company that takes over, communicate with the residents immediately. Notify the residents that new management has taken over and by all means explain what happened in the first place. A little empathy goes a long way. Do not make any promises that you cannot keep. These residents just want to have peace of mind that their water and power are not going to be shut off. Set up a temporary call center so residents can voice thier concerns or hold a “town hall meeting”. Know that you are walking into a hornet’s nest and the only way to change the perception of the residents will be to tackle their issues head on. If you don’t have an in house Public Relations Manager, working with an agency would be a smart decision. This is an opportunity where you can’t make things much worse and in the end can be a “hero”. The concerns voiced in this article can be addressed by Property Management 101.
I have my own opinions on how this should have been handled up front and if you are a frequent reader of my blog you can probably come to those on your own. I am no expert in this arena, but I’m sure someone reading this might be. Please feel free to share your opinion on how this could have been avoided or at least how the residents paying $800 a month could have been warned in advance. There is a solution out there somewhere that makes sense. As an industry of professionals, it’s our responsibility to make it known so the next company to face a similar situation doesn’t leave thousands of residents in limbo.