Why are landlords afraid of the truth? They expect you to tell the truth about your income, household members, past rental history, and a host of other things. They expect you to sign your name to an application stating that you’ve told the truth, and to a lease stating that your living there is dependent upon having told the truth on the application. But when light is shined upon landlords, a few of the less savory ones scurry back to their dark corners. Why?
We live in an era of truth. All of the information you could want is out there, it’s up to you to glean it and figure out what’s worth taking at face value. Many landlords will do a social media background check on prospective tenants to make sure they’re not friends with unsavory people. So why are landlords afraid of the truth when it comes to reviews on social media?
Yelp is a perfect example. Some landlords, like many Greystar property managers, put a great deal of effort into making sure that they respond to negative reviews. In those cases, it’s not simply justification, there’s often an admission that they could have done something differently and that they’ll do better in the future, or even a direct offer to help. Property managers like these are to be commended for making an effort to find opportunities for improvement wherever they can.
Other landlords and property management firms are nowhere to be found on social media. No presence at all, and they make a point not to respond to reviews. A ton of negative reviews is not necessarily a red flag in and of itself – happy people tend not to leave reviews, and angry people tend to tell everyone they can find about their experience. When you’re signing contracts that last a year or more and leasing real estate that’s bound to not please everyone, people will be unhappy from time to time. It’s just the nature of the beast, and you can’t expect for there never to be a negative comment. Some people just don’t pay their rent for six months and then trash the landlord on social media when the inevitable happens.
But the important question to ask when there are no responses from the landlord being reviewed is why are landlords afraid of the truth? Do they not want to respond because they think it lends validity to the complaint? That’s wrong – it gives a rebuttal opportunity and a chance to fix or clarify the situation. A far more serious risk, however, is this:
If the landlord doesn’t respond to social media complaints and reviews, it’s quite possible that they maintain their reputation exactly as well as they maintain their apartments – that is to say, not at all. If the landlord can’t be bothered to maintain their reputation, do you think they’ll fix your toilet when it breaks? The two are quite often, though not always, correlated. That’s the sort of thing you need to seriously consider, especially if you see other signs of deferred maintenance or problems when you view an apartment.
Landlords, or any business, that attack people who leave negative reviews are often to be avoided. Look, Mr. Property Manager… You’re not Ronda Rousey – you don’t need to go straight for the ground game and beat the person up. Why are landlords afraid of the truth? Honest, straightforward responses and admissions of failings are positive. Landlords who take to social media and review sites and actually respond to comments do better than those who don’t. It’s a fact of business that responsiveness in any venue is the best way to handle a public complaint. Whether it’s on Yelp or a letter to the editor, by responding in kind you are able to show that you care, that you’re willing to fix issues, and that the situation as presented by the reviewer may not be an accurate summation of events.
The takeaway from this is that as a landlord, you should make an effort to respond to those comments, because people do notice and they do care. It can impact your business and your reputation, and when you’re in real estate both of those are crucial. The number one thing you can do to protect your reputation is to require renters insurance, however. When everyone in your building has Renters Insurance, you know that even if one tenant causes a loss, the others will be made whole and you’re unlikely to need to contend with those angry people on social media. It’s good for your reputation and good for your business.
Why are landlords afraid of the truth? They should embrace it, because it’s going to come out.