Your Guide to Not Lashing Out at Your Renters During COVID-19

Emotions are running really high right now. We're all scared. We're all anxious. We're all stir-crazy. It's becoming really hard not to snap at people. Good thing there are ways to stop yourself.

Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor“Hello?”
“Hi! Can you hear me?”
“Hi, everyone! Can you go on mute if you’re not talking?”
[Slow Wi-Fi detected. Video will resume shortly.]
“Hello, please mute yourselves!”

Oh, my god! How hard is it to conduct a meeting? Why is everyone still talking? This isn’t my meeting, but I should say something. I’m totally going to say something. Why can’t they take control? Everyone, BE QUIET ALREADY! Seriously, I’m going to say something.

And that, my friends, is how I almost yelled at a bunch of kindergartners during my daughter’s class’ online Show and Tell.

It’s absolutely crazy out there right now. COVID-19 is still spreading. Millions of people are laid off. People are working from home. Essential workers have to put themselves at risk by going in. Your renters might not be able to afford rent, but you still have to keep the building running.

Emotions are running high. We’re scared. We’re anxious. We’re stir-crazy.

It’s becoming really hard not to snap at people.

Rationally, of course, we know we shouldn’t. It never helps to yell at someone, especially one of your renters. We need to remain professional and empathetic, even during these times. Especially during these times.

Here are some steps to take to avoid lashing out at people while you’re working at your multifamily community.

    1. Pause before you respond. If a resident comes to you about a rent issue now (not being able to pay, asking for a reduction because amenities are closed, etc.), don’t just respond. Take a breath, and think for a second. This could give you a chance to reset before you respond in anger for frustration. You’ll be in a much better space to respond when you have a clear head.
    2. Try to remember that renters are frustrated, too. Yes, you have to worry about utilities and property costs and renting vacant units when people might not want to be looking at apartments right now (though of course you can try virtual tours). But your renters are worried about their own jobs. They might be stuck inside for who knows how long in a studio apartment. It’s a scary time. For everyone.
    3. Don’t take things personally. A renter might be mad about the situation and might try to take it out on you. But that’s because you’re there and because they think you have power over a situation, even if you don’t. You may know you didn’t make the rule that there will be changes to the rent even now, but your resident doesn’t. They’re looking to blame someone, and you’re the one who’s there.
    4. Get physically away from the situation. If things are getting heated during a confrontation, give yourself some distance. Tell the resident that you have to fix something/check on a package/have an appointment to look a unit/whatever, and get out of there. Hopefully that will give you some time to calm down.
    5. If you’re responding by email, write your response right away if you want. But send it later. When you get a frustrating or accusatory email, it’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and send something equally accusatory back. That’s…not good. Plus, now there is a written record of you being nasty to a renter, which not only unprofessional, but could end up forwarded to your higher ups or even screenshot and plastered all over social media. So write what you want, even if it’s sarcastic. That’s very therapeutic. But don’t send it. Come back to the email later when you’re not angry. And always write facts, not speculation.
    6. Take your lunch and all your allotted breaks. It’s stressful during normal circumstances working at a property. During a crisis, it’s even more so. We all want to do a good job and do right by our renters. You may be classified as “essential.” But you’re not Superman. You can’t be “on” all the time. If you have a lunch break or other breaks, take them. According to Forbes, workers who don’t take breaks are likely to burnout, especially during stressful times. And now is about as stressful as it can get.
    7. Have a plan. The best defense is a good offense, right? Actually, who knows—there are no sports anymore. But meet with the whole property management team and discuss what is or isn’t changing. And communicate with your residents frequently so everyone has all the information necessary and there are minimal last-minute surprises if that can be helped. That will helpfully keep everyone calm and informed.

What else can you do to stay calm at your community? How are you all faring right now? And, will someone please tell me why it’s so hard to mute yourself during a video conference? Post your comments on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @MHNOnline or @jfiur. Stay safe, everyone.

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