What Maintenance Issues Are Emergencies And What Can Wait For Regular Business Hours?
When it comes to rental property maintenance, there are no set hours. Sometimes maintenance issues happen outside regular business hours and, as a landlord, it’s your duty to address them.
Depending on the nature of the property damage or maintenance issue, you may need to arrange for repairs right away, especially if you’re a long-distance landlord.
However, not all property concerns should be treated as emergencies. As a property owner, it’s important to learn about rental safety standards so you can categorize which maintenance issues are emergencies and which are not.
What Counts as Rental Property Emergency Maintenance
A landlord must know what an emergency is. A lot of situations can be uncomfortable for renters and act as an inconvenience, but they’re not necessarily an emergency. Sometimes, small issues occur after hours but they can be addressed the following day.
Defining an Emergency
Maintenance issues that are likely to result in injury, serious property damage or threaten anyone’s health and safety are categorized as emergencies. Some property concerns that constitute an emergency are:
- Broken water lines or frozen pipes
- Broken doors or locks that can’t be secured
- Gas leaks or a broken gas line
- Sewer backup
- Broken heaters in winter
- Broken air conditioning units during a heat wave
- Electrical issues
- Leaking roofs
- Lack of access to potable water
- Extended power outages
- High carbon monoxide levels
Maintenance Issues That Aren’t Emergencies
If the maintenance concern doesn’t threaten your tenants’ health, safety or property, then the issue isn’t an emergency. That means you can address the issue during normal business hours.
These kinds of maintenance issues include:
- Malfunctioning appliances
- No hot water access
- Air conditioner or heating malfunctions during mild weather
- Burnt out lightbulbs
- Noise complaints
- Parking issues
- Minor leaks
Ways to Manage Rental Property Emergency Maintenance
Landlords need to pay attention to how they handle maintenance requests from their renters so they can maintain a healthy landlord-tenant relationship and protect their investment.
When you’re developing your maintenance request procedures and strategies, it can help to ask yourself the following questions.
Are You Reachable
Although not all property concerns are emergencies, landlords still need to be available to respond to their tenant’s concerns and inform them of updates during maintenance and repairs.
Do You Have Contact Information for Emergency Services
Even if your renters already have contact numbers for police, fire, medical, and utility services, landlords must be able to contact emergency services at any hour. When a renter reports an emergency, such as a burst pipe, outside normal business, you should have a vendor on-call 24/7 who can handle the emergency situation.
Having a network of reliable vendors who can handle emergency maintenance issues is crucial to reducing stress, maintaining good relations with your tenant, and resolving urgent problems.
Are You Practicing Open Communication
Regular communication between landlords and their tenants is vital even when an emergency is already dealt with. Even if you’ve arranged maintenance services and left your tenant with instructions, you’ll still need to provide routine updates.
Your tenant needs to be aware of when the vendor will arrive and what to do in the meantime to ensure their safety and your property as well.
Do You Know Your Responsibilities as a Landlord
As a landlord, you can be expected to handle a variety of issues, from coordinating minor repairs to resolving emergencies. It’s important to know which issues need immediate attention and which ones can be handled later. Similarly, you should also know what issues should be handled by your renters.
Ultimately, anything that threatens the health and safety of your tenants or results in massive property damage is best dealt with right away. For non-emergencies, you can send a notice to your tenants advising them when vendors will come to fix the issue during regular business hours.
Can You Answer Important Questions
Being a decisive landlord is important during emergencies. The first step to making informed decisions is asking a professional to advise on the situation so you can find out the severity of the issue.
This allows you to make a plan if your renters require temporary accommodation. You can also find out who is accountable for repairing the issue and if any tenant insurance claim can be made during emergencies.
Having these answers before letting your tenant know what to expect gives you more information to work with so you can decide on the next steps.
Are You Understanding When Your Tenants Raise Issues
As a landlord, being calm is necessary, especially when emergencies occur. If the situation doesn’t warrant an emergency response, you can still provide clear instructions to the tenants and have them submit a maintenance request.
A new renter may have trouble identifying an emergency case and may call up for assistance. That’s why it’s important to be patient and reassure them whenever possible.
Can You Provide Documentation
Unlike maintenance requests that go through regular channels, such as online tenant portals, emergencies are often addressed via phone calls which makes them difficult to document.
However, it’s still essential for landlords to document the request and how it’s being handled. Be sure to jot down notes on the nature of the emergency, next steps, repair schedules, and updates, and follow-ups with your tenants.
For example, when the repairs are done, you can send an email to your tenant so you both have a record of what transpired and how it was handled.
As a landlord, a lot of responsibility is placed on your shoulders and renters expect you to always be on top of things. However, if you wish to reduce your stress and save time, you can hire a trusted property management company!
If you’re looking for a reputable property manager, consider Leenan Property Management. Call us today for more information on our comprehensive property management services!