One of AvalonBay’s new AVA property’s goals is to “activate that social mindset” of the Gen Y renter that it’s courting. Doing that requires leasing agents.

“At AVA, the folks who are working there are energized by the neighborhood,” says Deborah A. Coombs, senior vice president of property operations at AvalonBay. “They want a little bit different work experience. It’s a little more casual and a little more relaxed. There’s a social connection that is both the thing they used the tech whether it’s Facebook or Twitter.”

Personal expression is valued in AVA, but as companies are finding out, personal expression and access to legions of customers don’t always go well together. Just look at the recent lawsuit that pitted Noah Kravitz against Mount Pleasant, S.C.-based PhoneDog, his former employer. Kravitz had compiled nearly 17,000 followers. PhoneDog is asking Kravitz to pay for that list. Kravitz argues that Twitter controls the list. The Kravitz case has made apartment owners take notice.

“We’re in the process of drafting guidelines that specifically state you’re prohibited from doing those activities [through social media],” said an executive at one apartment firm who didn’t want to be identified for this story. “It’s applying customer service to today’s digital environment. It’s the topic du jour.”

Julie Brawn-Whitesides, Executive Vice President at Folsom, Calif.-based FPI Management says her company developed a social media strategy to cover interaction blogs, personal websites, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, picture sharing and other interactive sites. The three-page document addresses issues like responding to media inquiries, competing with the company and responses to consumer posts, among other things.

“We implemented it in 2011 in an effort to provide clear guidelines to employees and ensure reputation management is handled appropriately for both FPI and owners of our managed buildings,” she says.The policy governs employee online behavior, both in and out of the workplace. “If you engage in online activity of which the company becomes aware that impacts your work performance or the interests of the company, its employees, products, customers, relationships, or reputation, this policy may apply, and discipline may result, even if the conduct occurred off-duty on your personal computer,” the policy reads.