Rental maintenance is part of the process you expect as a property manager. You know that move-ins, move-outs, or new purchases are going to require some fixes, and expect all the routine maintenance requests that come along with it.
Something you can’t prepare for, though, is emergency rental maintenance.
Knowing what steps to take and putting a process for emergencies in place helps mitigate the stress when it comes to the unknown.
As experienced Amelia Island property managers, we know how important emergencies are – especially in Florida, where air conditioning is a must, critters can be rampant, and storms are strong. We know that managing rental properties is a 24/7 process and we are here to help avoid hassles.
Below are the four steps we recommend Amelia Island property owners take so you can plan for emergencies as much as possible.
Define What Counts as an Emergency
A key element that makes an emergency maintenance request so urgent is the seriousness of the matter. Regular rental maintenance requests should be taken care of quickly but have more leeway when it comes to timeliness. An emergency request, however, typically impacts the tenant greatly and qualifies as an immediate issue.
What is an Emergency Rental Maintenance Request?
When your resident signs the lease, go over what counts as an emergency. Here are a few examples:
- Broken air conditioning (if it is a hot Amelia Island day)
- Broken door or window
- Gas leak
- Power outage
- No working toilets
- Fire (911 should also be called)
- Lack of water
What is NOT an Emergency Rental Maintenance Request?
Any inconvenience may seem like an emergency to your resident, so provide examples of regular maintenance issues to give them more context as well. Some examples of non-emergencies include:
- Burnt out Lightbulb
- Broken ice maker
- Lightly dripping faucet
- Loud neighbors
- Heat (typically not an issue in Amelia Island; may count as an emergency if a cold front comes through)
- No hot water (this should be resolved ASAP, but if there is running water the temperature doesn’t qualify as a drop-everything emergency)
When someone calls with a request, the level of seriousness of the rental maintenance problem needs to be defined to make sure it is indeed an emergency. If it isn’t, make sure the resident is reassured that their problem will still be resolved quickly.
Provide Clear Communication
At Real Property Management Sunstate, we’re used to handling maintenance and juggling many different services at once; we know that communication is key.
Beyond defining what an emergency is, communication needs to remain clear throughout the process. From the intake of the request to the dispatch of someone to fix the issue to the confirmation of a resolution, make sure that you as the property manager, the maintenance worker, and the resident are constantly updated. Do your residents typically file requests via a resident portal or by directly calling you? Simplify the process by keeping it similar but have a very clear differentiator for requests that qualify as an emergency.
Your process should look something like the following examples:
- Tenant calls with an emergency
- Emergency is confirmed
- Repair person is contacted
- Repair person is confirmed and arrives at the scene
- Issue is fixed
- Resident is comfortable again
You may use an external phone center or a property manager in Amelia Island to answer emergency calls, knowing that the calls can come in at any hour of the night. Either way, make sure there is a way for tenants to reach someone about their rental 24/7. Once someone is on the job, make sure the resident is expecting them and will be able to open the door. Finally, make sure everyone is updated after the fact (including yourself – ask for a status report from the maintenance tech if you aren’t there in person and ask if the resident is satisfied).
If, for some reason, the emergency is larger than it initially seemed and requires extra work (if something were to fall through the roof, for example), providing your residents with an alternative place to stay or compensation may need to be part of your preparation playbook depending on the terms of the lease.
Have a Contact List
You never know what you might get when it comes to an emergency, so have a list of trusted contacts at the ready. Think through some of the examples we gave for emergencies, like broken windows and gas leaks, when curating your list of professionals. We suggest starting with:
- HVAC Technician
- Repair Contractor
It isn’t necessary to have your regular maintenance team be on call for emergencies, though you can go that route. It is typical to hire outside contractors based largely on who is available; including more than one option on your go-to list is a must. Remember that fees for last-minute jobs are likely to be higher and keep some room in your budget for situations that arise.
Emergencies are going to happen no matter how much you prepare but conduct routine checks to help avoid issues. For example, check your pipes regularly to avoid flooding. Have someone inspect for structural damage, pests, or faulty appliances. If a tenant complains about something seemingly small like a clogged toilet, do your due diligence to make sure there isn’t a larger issue at play. Here is a list to cross off with every rental:
- Test smoke detectors
- Check for leaks and make sure that the water system works
- Keep everything clean (avoiding mold, bugs, etc.)
- Replace air filters
- Clean gutters and any outdoor debris
Anticipate problems by organizing all the components of this article into a guide for tenants; they should have a list that details what an emergency is, how to get in touch with you, and any external contacts you’re willing to share. Include a note that calling 911 is the best first step if something dangerous like a chemical leak or break-in occurs.
Need help managing maintenance for your Amelia Island investment property? At Real Property Management Sunstate, we can help manage maintenance along with any other needs you have. Contact us today to learn more.
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