Q: Should I use email to communicate with tenants?

Perry T. writes: What do you think about using email as a primary means of communication with tenants? I like the idea of automatically having a written record of what has been said, but are there any downsides to email, or things I should watch out for?

Rental Agent Guide answers: Email can be a great tool for keeping in touch with tenants. Opening up this channel of communication can facilitate easy, convenient dialogue between renters and landlords, which is generally a good thing, as long as both parties have an appropriate sense of proper boundaries. However, any communication that serves a legal purpose should be delivered in the form of a physical notice, as this is what will hold up in court. (Email is great as supporting evidence, but not as primary documentation.)

You should also be aware that not everyone checks email regularly—younger tenants tend to communicate via texting, or through social channels such as Facebook, and may rarely look at email. When you’re in the process of signing a lease with a new tenant, it’s a great idea to ask them how they prefer to be communicated with and to collect the relevant contact information. You can provide the same information to your tenant. The easier it is for you and your tenant to keep in touch, the happier you’ll be.