Give New Residents Orientation Letter to Get Off on Right Foot
In “Follow HUD Guidelines for New Resident Orientation,” above, we discuss the importance of briefing new residents on the terms of the lease and house rules. HUD's guidelines for conducting this briefing include providing information in written form, such as a packet of handouts, in addition to speaking with the new resident in person. The written material must be clear, HUD says, perhaps with graphics, and may need to be provided in languages other than English.
While a packet of handouts is a comprehensive tool to cover many topics, you also should consider creating a one-page letter, to deliver after lease signing, that focuses on the key issues for new residents. We'll explain what to put into an effective orientation letter, and give you a Model Letter: Welcome New Residents with Orientation Letter, which you can adapt for use at your site.
What Letter Should Cover
Site management experts offer the following tips for creating an effective orientation letter:
Make it personal. From the way the envelope is addressed to the greeting at the start of the letter, personalize this piece of communication. Form letters have their place, but this isn't one of them. Most of the information will be the same letter to letter, but make the effort to address your new residents as individuals. Be sure to keep a copy of the letter in your files.
Deliver it directly. If you have post-lease-signing orientation meetings, you can deliver the letter in person, or place the letters on a sign-in table at the entrance to a meeting that's held for more than one new household.
Address the essentials. Experienced site managers suggest your orientation letter cover these topics:
A friendly welcome. Let new residents know you are pleased to have them at your site.
Their responsibilities. Remind new residents that their lease and house rules are the documents that govern your landlord-tenant relationship. They signed the lease indicating their commitment to adhere to its provisions.
Next, cover their main responsibilities. The key one, of course, is to pay their rent when due. We've suggested other key responsibilities in our Model Letter, but you may want to bring attention to different ones at your site.
Don't try to cover everything in the lease and your house rules—that's not the point of this letter. The letter is intended to highlight the lease and house rules; you don't want new residents to perceive it as a substitute for these documents or give the impression that they don't need to read these documents since they've read your letter.
Maintenance and security. Ask your new residents to work with you by alerting you promptly to any maintenance or security problems they encounter. Remind them that quick attention to such problems helps you serve them better.
Interim recertification responsibilities. Request that your new residents notify you about changes in their household circumstances that might trigger interim recertification. You can't cover every possible scenario, but this is an important lease requirement that should be mentioned.
Open communication. Invite your new residents to come to you with any problems that may come up for them. You may want to include specific problems that commonly arise for new residents at your site, if there are any.
Reasonable accommodations. Encourage new residents to contact you about possible needs for reasonable accommodations, underscoring your commitment to fair housing practices.
Positive sign-off. Close the orientation letter on a positive and cordial note.
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|Welcome New Residents with Orientation Letter|