If you own one or more rental properties, you can count on being on the receiving end of a late-night “emergency” maintenance calls from time to time. Being adequately prepared for these calls can help make dealing with them much easier.
What Constitutes an Emergency
When renting your properties out, it is crucial that you explain to your new tenants what you consider to be a maintenance emergency. In fact,you should outline the details in your lease. This way, there can be no arguments when you present your tenants for an after-hoursmaintenance call that could have waited.
Emergencies can be describedas those situations in which either your property is at risk or those which could be putting your tenants in danger. Among these might be:
- Significant water leaks the tenant can’t stop.
- Holes in the building that could be from a falling tree, tree limb, the wind, or vandalism.
- Heating system failure in the winter months.
- A clogged toilet where the home only has one.
- A fire that has been reported by your tenants.
Know Your Vendors
You need to have your list of vendors put together ahead of time. You need plumbers, electricians, handymen, and roofers. Be sure that any vendor on your list does after-hoursemergency calls. Let’s face it, 90% of your tenants’ emergency calls are going to come in after 5 o’clock.
You should also be sure that any outsourced vendor you place on your call list has all the appropriate licenses, is bonded, carries the appropriate worker’s compensation and liability insurance coverages. Should anything happen to your property or your tenants as a result of action or inaction by the tradesman and they don’t have the right coverages, you are the one who will be left footing the bills.
The Follow Up
Once the repairs have been made, you should follow up with both the tenants and the repair service. The first is to make sure the required repairs were made correctly and that your tenants are happy. The second is to talk to the vendors to see if they could determine the cause of the problem. For example, a clogged toilet resulting from toys or other items being stuffeddown the toilet.
In situations like this, you have to decide whether or not you want to charge your tenants for the repairs. You are well within your rights legally to charge your tenants the full amount of the repair bill, including the after-hourscallout fees, providing it can be determinedthey were at fault.
Consider Using a Virtual Property Management Service
Once your inventory starts to grow, you might want to consider investing in a virtual property management service. Doing so would relieve you of the responsibilities that go with handling the call, screening it to make sure the call warrants an emergency repairand then contacting the necessary tradesmen.
The most important thing to keep in mindis that no matter how you handle your tenants’ emergency needs, you need to do so in an expedient manner. Making sure things get fixed expedientlyis an integralpart ofgood tenant relations and retention.