What Maintenance Issues Are Emergencies and What Can Wait for Regular Business Hours?

Being a landlord is not a job with standard hours. There may be times when you have to put in hours early in the morning or late at night. You never know when you might get a call from a tenant who has a last-minute maintenance issue.

But how do you know what is an emergency and what can be dealt with the next day?

In this article, the property specialists from Windermere Property Management cover what can be considered a maintenance emergency and how to handle these calls.

What Is an Emergency Maintenance Issue?

What constitutes a property emergency? Understanding what an emergency is is half the issue. There are some property issues that, while they may be an inconvenience to tenants, can be postponed until morning.

From our experience, a property issue can be considered an emergency when it can cause either serious damage to the property or endanger a tenant’s life. To give you a feel of a property emergency, here are some of the examples:

  • Frozen or broken pipes
  • Fire
  • Flooding on the premises
  • Leaking gas
  • Broken locks to the doors and/or windows
  • Electrical issues
  • Smoke or carbon monoxide detection
  • Backed-up sewer

Close up of someone's arms fixing a pipe under a sink

As mentioned earlier, there are some things that cannot be considered an emergency. These property issues are minor inconveniences that can be handled during business hours. Some of the non-emergency property issues:

  • Burnt-out lightbulbs
  • No hot water in the boiler
  • Appliances that have stopped working
  • Noise complaints in the neighborhood
  • Parking disputes in the neighborhood

How You Can Handle Emergencies

The tips below can help you maintain a positive landlord-tenant relationship and help keep your property in the best shape possible.

Be Reachable

As we have described above, not all maintenance issues can be considered emergencies. You don’t have to drop what you are doing and head over to the property. However, you want your tenants to know that you are reachable and dedicated to finding a solution as fast as possible.

At the beginning of the tenancy, provide your tenants with contact information for you and anyone else involved in the management of your rental property.

Know When to Call 911

If, for example, a fire breaks out on the property, you won’t be able to help the tenants very much. They should initially contact 911 so they can get the help they need. Then they can call you to inform you of what’s going on on the property.

A box of tools and a pair of pliers on a marble floor

Although it might seem obvious, outlining this process to your tenants is important. You should put a list of emergency contacts together.

This can include experienced and trusted vendors whose expertise you trust, as well as a secondary contact for you in case the initial call goes unanswered.

Communicate with Your Tenants

Once the authorities have come to the property and made sure everyone is safe, you should still maintain communication with the tenant. Let’s say for example the tenant had a burst pipe on the property. They might be worried about their belongings.

You should keep them updated on the progress of repairs on the property. If the maintenance issue requires a longer timeline, tell them what steps you are taking to solve the issue.

This shows your tenants that you care about their well-being and want them back in their home as soon as possible.

Understand Your Responsibilities as a Landlord

When it comes to general maintenance, you want to promptly handle issues that your tenants report. However, you should differentiate between what is your responsibility and what is the tenant’s responsibility to handle.

We recommend that you understand what is considered property damage vs. normal wear and tear. The state’s landlord-tenant laws make it clear what you need to repair.

Be sure to include these responsibilities in the lease agreement and make sure the tenant understands their duties.

A person standing on a ladder painting a wall while another person holds the ladder

For example, if the boiler has always had an issue and it suddenly gives out, it is your responsibility to handle it. However, if a tenant breaks the lock on a door as a result of their negligence or abuse, they should be the one to resolve the issue.

You can, however, offer to solve the issue and deduct the cost of the repairs from the security deposit.

Be Kind

Imagine you wake up in the middle of the night to a burst water pipe and water flowing everywhere in the house. You are bound to feel myriad emotions from frustration to anger to fear.

This is the same range of emotions that your tenants would feel when they are handling an emergency situation. Depending on the situation at hand, you can react accordingly and advise a tenant on how to handle a matter.

From what we have described above, not every issue needs you to get out of bed and rush over to the property. By simply issuing a set of instructions via the phone, you might be able to de-escalate a situation.

As a landlord, reassuring your tenant that everything is going to be okay will put them at ease.

In Conclusion

Knowing how to handle property emergency issues will help you to understand the scenario and respond appropriately.

Being reachable, communicating openly, and knowing your responsibilities as a landlord are the main things to consider when dealing with maintenance emergencies.

If you are a property owner in Spokane and the surrounding areas, you might be having some difficulty handling emergency property issues. For those looking for a property company, you can rely on a leading service provider in the area.

Windermere Property Management is a full-service property management company. Our company offers a wide range of property solutions and services. We provide comprehensive solutions that are tailored to match our client's needs and wants.

Get in touch with us today!

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