Texting and the Landlord/Tenant Relationship

A Friend and Colleague Jacob Beeson, with Beehive Property Management wrote this post. With his permission, I am sharing it here. Very Good Information.

While texting is a quick and convenient way to communicate, you must be very careful using it for professional, important, or potentially contentious and adversarial conversations.

Authentication:
Courts are not quite ready to count text messages as actual communication.
While it’s a good practice to keep screen shots of juicy messages, it won’t always work. Unless you have the whole conversation, it could be tough to prove the context. It’s tempting to negotiate late rent payments, timing of repairs, inspections, or move out dates via text. It’s best to assume that whatever ‘deals’ are struck via text are not enforceable without lengthy (and expen$ive) court proceedings.

Don’t get emotional!
Texting is for convenience in communicating with people you know and like. Text messages are usually personal and private; from family and close friends. Don’t invite sticky landlord-tenant issues into this type of communication!
Texting can get emotional quickly. When communicating via text with someone you don’t know well, you cannot pick up on non-verbal cues or other communication subtleties. This can lead to a ‘worst case scenario’ reading of any and every message; especially in an adversarial situation.

What’s the answer?
From the very beginning, establish with your tenant / landlord a professional relationship that does not include texting!

For example, if you get a text from a tenant asking if they can pay rent late; send this text back “my counsel has advised me not to discuss landlord tenant issues via text message. Please email this message to me. :-)” Then, do not respond to any more texts from them. Or, send an email in response to a text. It’s a nice way of saying that you’d rather have the message delivered in a traceable, verifiable, and professional way.

Most of all, when you have Arizona landlord – tenant problems, don’t stress!