As a landlord, you get to meet a lot of interesting people over the years. Couples and singles, parents, and roommates who are barely out of high school themselves. Over time, you figure out what kind of landlord management style works best for different types of people. You know how to ask a resident child to run get their parent, you know how to give college students a few tries to figure out how to pay rent on time, you always call ahead on visits when your tenants are newlyweds. But there's one kind of tenant that often has landlords stumped on how to be courteous to their lifestyle: Night shifters.
People who are up all night tend to get a reputation for being wild, but in reality there are thousands of hard-working reliable people who make an extra few bucks an hour by working the night shift. Tech support, emergency services, late night food delivery, transport drivers and more. These tenants are reliable rent payers and often tidy tenants, but it can be pretty challenging to communicate or schedule services when their entire day-night routine is opposite from your own. So today, we're here to give landlords a few helpful tips on how to manage nocturnal tenants and those who work the night shift.
Find Your Daylight Overlap Zone
People who work at night almost always have a few hours of daylight when they're awake and available for business, and knowing what these hours are will help you with all future scheduling questions. People who work 'night shift' actually come in about three scheduling varieties. Second-shifters work from late afternoon to midnight, and tend to be available for scheduling purposes in the early afternoon which is their coffee and sleepy-eyed 'morning'.
Third-shifters work from mid-evening to early morning. They are your traditional night shift and tend to be available both in the very early morning and in the late afternoon, but sleep between those times.
And Freelance night-shifters who set their own work times may have unique hours depending on their business. Delivery, emergency services, or passenger driving all have unique hours for hot and cold work times.
Second Shift Scheduling
- Works: ~4pm to 12am
- Available: 1pm to 3pm (morning)
Third Shift Scheduling
- Works: ~10pm to 6am
- Available: 6pm to 9pm (morning)
- Available: 6am to 8am (evening)
Once you understand when your night-shift tenant is likely to be awake and at home, it becomes much easier to schedule things like maintenance, annual inspections, and phone calls. Especially if you also understand that the can't wait around for the plumber during the same hours everyone else can. Your night shift tenants will greatly appreciate your consideration.
Don't Schedule Anything During Sleeping Hours
You wouldn't dream of calling a tenant at 2AM to chat about repainting the front porch. And by understanding your tenant's schedule, you can give night-shift tenants the same courtesy you would give anyone else. Sleep time between work shifts is sacred, and something all of us can understand as needing to be respected. If you have a night-shift tenant, consider sketching out a clear chart of when they are sleeping and you absolutley should not call. This is something you can keep on your fridge or in the file-folder where you keep everything about managing that house.
Or schedule anything. The last thing your night-shift tenants want is to have to be awake and dealing with services during their sleep hours. Many landlords have accidentally inconvenienced their night-shift tenants in a serious way by misunderstanding when tenants need to be asleep. And you can do your tenants a real courtesy by taking a little extra effort to schedule around their sleep hours.
Confirm Weekend Hours
Weekends are a great tool for night-shift professionals because it is two solid days to get normal day-time stuff done before resetting their sleep for night work again. Scheduling services for your nocturnal tenants on the weekend is one of the friendliest things you can do, especially for things like plumbers or repair technicians who have an 'arrival window' and may have to be waited for.
But as you well know, not everyone's weekends happen on the same days. So before scheduling something for Saturday, double-check with your tenants to confirm which days they actually have off. Because night shift jobs are already off the normal 'family' schedule, employers are also more likely to give these positions unusual weekend days like Wednesday and Thursday instead of Saturday and Sunday.
Tuning in to your tenant's weekend schedule is a considerate thing to do for any tenant, as there are many jobs with an unusual off-day arrangement. But this practice is especially helpful when dealing with tenants on an unusual nocturnal work schedule.
Make Plans a Week Ahead
But with all of this, the best possible way to make anything work with your tenants is always to call at least a week in advance. Because you never know what your tenants will be up to or what their plans will be, even if you are familiar with their usual off hours and weekend schedule. A full week is enough time for anyone to arrange for a brief meeting or for the two of you to compare your calendars and figure out which day and time in the near future works for everyone.
Once you have a scheduled a meeting, service, or phone call, it's fine to send one or two reminders to make sure your tenant hasn't forgotten and will definitely be available at the arranged time.
Communicate Through Email
Our final word of advice for landlords of nocturnal tenants is to forget the phone and send most of your messages through email instead. People who work the night shift are almost never awake and ready to do business during polite phoning hours. And they don't appreciate their phones ringing or chirping with messages during the hours they are trying to sleep. In fact, many night shift professionals mute their phones for sleep because so few people remember not to call during their sleeping hours.
So instead of wanting to 'talk over' any new decision or scheduling need, drop your nocturnal tenant an email instead. Emails are incredibly polite because they wait quietly to be read. When your tenant starts their day, whenever that is, they will read and answer your emails which you can then read the next time you're awake and ready to do work. This saves you both the trouble of inconveniently timed phone calls.
Whether you have a nocturnal tenant now or are considering an applicant who works the night shift, these tips will help you stay on the right page with tenants who work during the night. Not to mention showing an unusual amount of courtesy for their sleeping hours and general scheduling needs. Be an awesome landlord to night-shift tenants and they will appreciate it in ways that are difficult to express before coffee. For more great landlording insights, contact us today or keep reading the blog!
About the author
Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America.