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What Maintenance Issues Are Emergencies?

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Maintenance issues are inevitable When managing a property, whether it’s your home or a commercial space. These problems can arise anytime, often when you least expect them, from leaky pipes to malfunctioning electrical systems. 

However, not all maintenance issues require immediate attention. Some can wait for regular business hours, while others demand swift action to prevent further damage and costly repairs. 

In this blog post, we will explore the difference between emergency maintenance issues and those that can be put on hold until the next business day.

Examples of Maintenance Emergencies

Rental property emergency maintenance refers to urgent situations that demand immediate attention to protect the property. Here are examples of rental property emergencies:

Security Breaches

Any issue compromising the property’s security, such as broken doors, windows, or locks, should be treated as an emergency. Prompt repairs are essential to protect tenants and the property.

Burst Water Pipe

A burst water pipe is one of the most critical maintenance emergencies. Water can gush into your property when this happens, causing extensive damage within minutes. 

Immediate action is crucial to minimize the harm. Shut off the main water supply and call a plumber without delay. Water damage can be expensive to repair, and ignoring it can lead to mold and structural issues.

Gas Leaks

A gas leak is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate attention. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, evacuate the premises and call your gas company and the fire department. 

Do not attempt to fix the issue yourself, as this can be extremely dangerous.

Electrical Outages

A complete loss of power in your property can disrupt your daily routine and pose safety risks. 

While some minor electrical issues can wait, a complete blackout or sparking outlets should be treated as an emergency. Contact an electrician to diagnose and address the problem promptly.

Sewer Backup

A sewer backup is a major inconvenience and a health hazard. It can lead to contamination and damage to your property. 

Call a plumber immediately if you notice sewage backing up into your sinks or toilets. Avoid using any plumbing fixtures until the issue is resolved.

Heating or Cooling System Failure

A malfunctioning heating or cooling system can be an emergency in extreme weather conditions. 

Exposure to extreme temperatures can be dangerous, especially for vulnerable individuals like the elderly or young children. 

If your HVAC system stops working during extreme weather, call a technician to restore comfort and safety to your property.

What are Not Considered Maintenance Emergency Issues?

Conversely, specific maintenance issues in a rental property can wait until regular business hours. These non-emergencies include:

Dripping Faucet

A dripping faucet is an annoyance but is not typically an emergency. While it can waste water over time, it can generally wait for regular business hours unless the flow is so excessive that it’s causing significant water damage.

Minor Roof Leak

A minor roof leak during a rainstorm may not be an immediate emergency, especially if it’s not causing significant interior damage. 

You can place buckets or towels to collect the dripping water and contact a roofer for a repair assessment during regular business hours.

Non-Critical Appliance Malfunctions

When a non-critical appliance, such as a dishwasher or microwave, stops working, it’s inconvenient but not an emergency. 

You can wait until regular business hours to schedule a repair or replacement.

Clogged Drain

A clogged drain is a common household issue; while it’s frustrating, it’s rarely an emergency. Try DIY methods or wait to contact a plumber during regular business hours.

Minor Electrical Issues

If you experience a minor electrical issue, like a single outlet not working, it can typically wait until regular business hours. Ensure safety by turning off power to the affected area and avoid using the faulty outlet.

Tips for Handling Rental Property Emergency Maintenance

Handling emergency maintenance in your rental property is crucial to ensure tenant safety and protect your investment. Here are some tips to help you navigate emergency maintenance effectively:

Establish Clear Emergency Procedures

Ensure that both you and your tenants know the steps to follow in case of an emergency. Create a comprehensive emergency procedure document that outlines who to contact, what to do, and how to stay safe during different types of emergencies.

Provide 24/7 Emergency Contacts

Make sure tenants have access to emergency contact information at all times. This should include contact numbers for you, maintenance vendors, and any relevant local authorities, such as the fire department or gas company.

Prioritize Tenant Safety

Safety should always be the top priority in any emergency situation. Encourage tenants to evacuate the property if it’s unsafe, and remind them not to attempt repairs or fixes unless it’s absolutely safe.

Maintain a List of Trusted Vendors

Create a list of reliable emergency maintenance vendors, including plumbers, electricians, and locksmiths. Vet these vendors carefully, ensuring they are available for emergency calls, even during non-business hours.

Offer After-Hours Support

Consider providing after-hours support for tenants to report emergencies. This could be through a dedicated emergency hotline or an online reporting system. Ensure that someone is available to respond promptly.

Regularly Inspect and Maintain

Conduct routine inspections and maintenance to identify potential issues before they become emergencies. Regular servicing of HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical systems can prevent unexpected problems.

Maintain Adequate Insurance

Ensure your rental property has adequate insurance coverage to protect against damages caused by emergencies. Review your policy regularly to confirm it meets your property’s needs.

Follow Up After Emergencies

After resolving an emergency, follow up with tenants to ensure that the issue has been fully resolved to their satisfaction. This can help maintain tenant trust and address any lingering concerns.

Regularly Review and Update Procedures

Periodically review your emergency procedures and vendor contacts to ensure they remain up-to-date. Property management software can help you keep track of this information efficiently.

Budget for Emergency Repairs

Set aside a portion of your rental income for emergency repairs and maintenance. Having funds readily available can expedite the resolution of emergencies and reduce stress.

Bottom Line

Managing maintenance issues in rental properties is multifaceted. Distinguishing emergencies from non-emergencies, establishing clear procedures, and providing reliable contacts are vital for tenant safety and property preservation. 

Trusted vendors, after-hours support, and regular inspections prevent issues and ensure effective responses. Realty Management Associates, Inc. offers a solution for seamless property management, benefiting property owners and tenants. 

Proactive preparation, communication, and prioritizing safety are essential for successful rental property management amidst maintenance challenges.