Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Multifamily Blogs

This is some blog description about this site

Why Tenants Love to Hate Their Property Management Company

This is a follow up to our survey of almost 3,000 reviews of property management companies on Yelp and Yahoo Local.

Why is it that management companies seem to get such a bad rap in online reviews? It would be easy to dismiss these review sites as being platforms for libel by disgruntled people with an axe to grind, but the reality is rating sites are a useful tool that are widely used by consumers.

61% of people rely on user reviews for product information or research before a buying decision is made. (Razorfish, 2008)

Knowing that consumers use online rating and review sites for everything from restaurants to doctors to apartments, we felt compelled to better understand why our research showed property managers were on average getting 30% lower ratings than the average for all other industries.

In fact if you’re looking to be entertained by passionately negative reviews, the property management industry pretty much takes the cake:

Unfortunately property management can be a thankless job, where tenants are hyper-sensitive to mistakes and often resent the enforcer aspect of the management company’ role. Obviously, not all tenant/property manager relations are like this, but as our research and the ubiquity of these glowing (as in firebrand) reviews show, it isn’t uncommon either.

Here’s my breakdown of what makes this industry unique in garnering so much negativity.

Spoiler alert: You’re going to be disappointed if you’re wanting me to place all the blame squarely on tenants or the management company.

The single biggest reason for low reviews from tenants is that the management company acts as an enforcer to uphold the interests of the landlord. This tension lies behind about 75% of the negative reviews we surveyed. Granted, the complaints tend to deal with surface issues, but this enforcement dynamic in the relationship is a root cause for bad blood between tenants and management companies. In this respect, property management has something in common with professions like police officer, tax collector, prison guard, prosecutor, repo man, etc., which all have significant enforcement roles and suffer from the same negative sentiment.

This negative perception of the MC as an enforcer is amplified when it is the only frame of reference tenants have. Because much of rental housing is treated like a commodity (renters shop primarily on price) margins are low, leaving little room for the kinds of extra services that create a positive impression and relationship. This means that tenant interaction is limited to paying bills, trying to get broken things fixed, or reporting other problems, which isn’t exactly the foundation for a glowing relationship.

Together, these factors have a negative impact on both tenant AND management behavior making it easier to find fault than solutions. Constructive dialogue is quickly replaced with a willingness to jump to conclusions and demonize the actions of the other party. Once an “us against them” mentality takes hold, it isn’t long before the tenant views himself as the little guy “fighting the man” in a crusade against landlord tyranny. The flip-side is the property manager who feels totally unappreciated and is tired of getting dumped on resulting in cold or overly heavy handed in dealings with tenants.

All these emotions are amplified by the fact that people’s homes are an important part of their security causing strong reactions to any perceived threat.

Again, my goal is not to label one side as being primarily responsible. We can all recognize that there are bad tenants that don’t pay rent, as well as negligent management companies that fail in their responsibilities. My point is that the inherent dynamics of the tenant/manager relationship lend themselves to strife.

Obviously I’m not the first person to recognize this and many management companies have well thought out tenant retention programs designed to maintain strong positive relationships and keep tenants happy. Check out Mike Brewer and Heather Blume for cutting edge strategies.

Is it fair?

No, but does that really matter?

Clearly, tenants are not in a position to tell owners who they should hire, and yet their reviews can affect the reputation of the management companies and influence client perceptions.  While this can be a bitter pill to swallow, it’s imperative that you embrace the fact that you’re not in control of what is said about you online.

As consumers are empowered by review sites and social networks to share their experiences, businesses of all types are becoming acutely aware of the need for online reputation management.

Who is talking about you, what are they saying, and how should you respond?  We’ll cover this and more in next week’s overview of reputation management for property management companies.

How are you dealing with tenants and owners talking about you online?

Rate this blog entry:
0
 
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Jordan-
Thanks for the kind mention in your post! And on the note of online rep management, it's important to remember - respond to EVERY post, positive or negative. We focus so much on the mitigation of negative comments that we forget to say "thank you" when someone sends out praise. Our mothers must be so disappointed, since they taught us to thank others when they compliment us.

Make mom proud. Say thanks.

  Heather Blume
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Agreed. Caring and saying thank you are very very underrated. Thanks for the comment!

  Jordan Muela
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

My only comment...I would hate being called a tenant...please think of how it sounds....resident is our marketing word!!!

  Anne Sadovsky
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks for the tip Ann, that makes sense.

  Jordan Muela

Comment Below

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
We all know that great resident retention depends largely on factors like timely maintenance response, friendly staff, unique amenities and beautiful curb appeal. But how much thought is given to the importance of social connectedness relative to resident satisfaction and renewal rates? There is a great deal of evidence of late on the impact of being socially connected (or not) on physical health and psychological well-being. You can read an outstanding article on the subject citing several rel...
J Turner Research, a leading marketing research firm exclusively serving the multifamily industry, today announced a ranking of the top 10 apartment resident complaints, as revealed in an analysis of 10,000 customer satisfaction surveys completed over the past two years at communities nationwide. Results from the survey analysis were released last week at the National Apartment Association Education Conference and Exposition in San Diego. According to the analysis, apartment residents are most ...
Senior housing apartments are becoming a major consideration for apartment owners. With 10,000 baby boomers or more reaching the age of 65 daily, the senior housing market is big business. While American families are scaling up and opting for bigger houses in the suburbs, seniors are looking to scale down into something that’s easier to take care of and maneuver around. If you decide to take the plunge into the world of senior housing, what can you do, with respect to renovations, to make your ...