With the partial government shutdown entering its sixth week, furloughed federal workers have now missed two paychecks. What does this mean for the multifamily industry?
Rent payments could be late, evictions might happen, and the online reputation of apartment communities could suffer.
The National Apartment Association issued guidelines on how apartment owners can respond to government employees who reach out with concerns about being unable to make their rent payments. It offers suggestions on how communities can work with residents to protect their residency, including deferring payments and waiving late fees.
While apartment communities and residents try to navigate this, it should be expected that residents will leave negative reviews on sites such as Apartment Ratings and Yelp as well as social media. In fact, it’s already happening.
Given that an estimated 800,000 government employees are affected, there is potential for this to have a major impact on the online reputation of countless apartment communities across the country.
What can multifamily communities do?
Respond to all negative reviews with empathy.
This is a best practice for any negative review, but this calls for more of a human touch. In addition to responding on the review site, reach out to the resident directly to help take the conversation offline.
Go public with your concessions.
If you’re accommodating residents as the NAA recommends, include that in your responses. Even if you’ve spoken to the resident directly about it, being transparent about the concessions you’re offering will restore public confidence.
Furloughed residents might be experiencing a great deal of stress, so it’s crucial that you don’t allow emotions to guide your conversations. A third party online reputation service can be helpful in ensuring that things stay on track.
Whether your community is accommodating residents or not, communicate this to anyone affected by the shutdown as soon as possible. This might not help to prevent negative reviews, but it’s important for residents know what to expect.
Respage is ready to help apartment communities who need a hand in responding to reviews about the government shutdown, so reach out to us!