Will You Accept This Rose…And Rent Increase?

Next Monday is the season finale of “The Bachelorette.” Naturally, I’m an emotional wreck.

Despite the upheaval in my personal life, I still managed to cover July 24th’s Webinar Wednesday, “Dollars and Rents: How to Navigate Your Residents Through the Changing Rental Market”—which, coincidentally, discussed my favorite show.

According to Webinar moderator Rommel Anacan, President of the Relationship Difference, interactions with residents are similar to interactions on “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”: You’re trying to keep the heart of your residents while competitors are attempting to steal them away.

There are (hopefully) fewer hot tubs and roses, but otherwise, art and life are very much the same.

This is especially true when it comes to discussions regarding rent increases, Anacan says. Just because the business climate supports rent changes doesn’t mean your residents will. Thus, it’s important to bridge the gap. 

When a resident has an emotionally charged response to a rent increase, it’s not enough to give a purely logical response. You have to show some empathy and listen to their concerns. The same holds true when the Bachelor or Bachelorette sends someone home. If a jilted lover is dry heaving over a balcony railing, simply telling them your “other relationships have progressed faster” is not going to go over well. You better shed a single tear, at the very least.

Here are some other things you better do—both as the Bachelorette, and as an apartment professional:

1. Keep the fairy tale alive.

Are you not as courteous or responsive as you once were? Anacan says if you’re going to ask for more money, your residents are going to demand that you deliver the goods and services you promised. The wooing shouldn’t end when a resident says “I do” to a lease. 

And if you’re going to ask a Bachelorette contestant to leave his friends, family and job for eight weeks, you better give him all the helicopter rides, free alcohol and exotic locations he can handle.

2. Give a heads up. 

Consider sending a letter before the renewal letter, giving residents a heads up that the rental market has changed recently and rent will reflect this fluctuation. 

Considerate Bachelorettes do similar things, such as not looking contestants in the eyes right before sending them home during a rose ceremony. How much advanced notice do you need?

3. Listen.

It’s pretty self-explanatory. Don’t interrupt residents, don’t assume you know what they’re going to say, and don’t counter their rent-increase concerns with, “I’m sorry you feel this way” (which is a nice way of saying, “I’m sorry you have these unfounded emotions”).

4. Validate.

Offer statements such as, “I understand your concerns about a rental increase—I would feel the same,” and “I understand you think you’re in love with me after two dates that were filmed and manipulated by producers.”

5. Explain.

Don’t just tell your residents their rent is going up; tell them why. Explain that as the demand for apartments continues to increase, so, too, have the prices.

And if you’re sending home a heartbroken man, explain that he did nothing wrong. His overbearing mother did.

Learn more about Webinar Wednesdays (hosted by NAAEI, Apartment All Stars and Multifamily Insiders), and register for August 7th’s “What’s New and What’s Hot in Fair Housing” today.