Knowledge Center

Rental Property Emergency

How to Handle a Maintenance Emergency in your Seattle Rental Property

In our most recent blog series, we have been talking about Seattle property management. Since we think like investors, we want to make sure that you, as a Seattle real estate investor, has all the tools and resources you need to ensure that your residents have a great rental experience.Joining us is been Enrique Jevons, who’s an expert on the subject of Seattle investment properties. Not only does he manage 850 rental properties for Mynd, but he’s also busy investing in his own real estate. Enrique owns 73 rental properties, so if you have a question about Seattle real estate investing, he’s the expert to ask.Today, we’re focusing our attention on maintenance. Property managers are charged with responding to routine maintenance issues and emergency maintenance issues. Unplanned emergencies are usually more expensive, more time-consuming, and have to be handled immediately.We asked Enrique to share what he would do to handle a maintenance emergency properly.

Preparing for Emergency Issues

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All sorts of emergencies can come up. The most important thing for a owner is to be prepared. Be prepared for anything and everything. There are possible emergencies you probably haven’t even thought of yet, but you still need to have a response plan in place.For Enrique, just about everything has happened over the years that he’s rented out homes. Sadly, he’s had three different residents die while they were in his properties. That’s not something that most rental property owners prepare for; what do you do when a resident dies? What do you do with that resident’s belongings, and who do you have to call?That’s not a maintenance emergency. But it does address the absolute need to be prepared. If you are knowledgeable about what needs to be done and you have a process in place, you’ll be in good shape. These processes need to be created even if you can’t imagine a situation where you’d actually need them. Preparation will stop things from slipping out of control when the actual emergency occurs. You’ll already know what needs to be done.

Have a Team of First Responders Ready

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It’s important that you have someone available 24 hours a day and seven days a week to respond to any potential emergency maintenance situation. We have found that many owners think they don’t have to worry about this. They have a single-family home that’s in great shape, and they don’t think that anything can go terribly wrong.The reality is, something can always go wrong.When a hot water tank decides to give out, you’ll need to react quickly to stop the water and minimize the damage. These things rarely happen during business hours. A water tank has never been known to wait until 9:00 a.m. on a Monday to suddenly blow. The timing is never good. So, you have to be prepared and you have to have someone available to answer the call and respond to the situation.A lot of owners may think they can handle these things on their own. Self-managing owners are more than happy to give their residents a cell phone number and be the person who is called anytime there’s an emergency at the property.But, sometimes you go to the movies and you don’t have your cell phone available to you. Sometimes, you will be out to dinner or at a cruise ship or the phone will be dead or left at the gym or in the car. You might be backpacking in the words where there’s no signal or skiing down a mountain top.You’re busy living your life.No single human being can be available 24 days, every day. This is impossible. If you’re asleep at night, even if the phone is on the nightstand right next to you, you won’t necessarily hear it when it rings. So, have someone available.People think they’ll handle on their own. But sometimes you go to the movies and you’re not available. Or you’re out to dinner or on a cruise ship or backpacking or skiing or whatever. You’re living your life. No one human being can be available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. If you’re asleep at night even if the phone is near you, it doesn’t mean you’ll wake up when it rings. So, have someone available. Even better – have a team.

Professional Seattle Property Management

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A lot of owners will commonly give their residents the phone number of their handyman. Enrique admits that he did this himself when he was managing just a few units. All of his residents had the same cell phone number, and his handyman would take the calls. Usually.Again – he’s one human being. Sometimes, the cell battery would be dead and it would be a few hours before he realized it. This problem will keep happening if there’s only one person responsible for taking the emergency calls. When emergencies do happen, they are real emergencies. They usually deal with something major like water or fire or something equally as catastrophic. The resident is going to be shaken. Emergencies are a big deal, and they’re usually expensive. They get more expensive when you don’t address them immediately.That’s why you need a team.There has to be a team of people available to respond to these emergencies and take these panicked calls from residents. Maybe you’re set up to employ a call center. If you don’t have access to a call center, you might want to explore working with a professional property management company. They are usually reliable when it comes to emergency response.Even with a management company, however, make sure you’re hiring someone who has a team of people available to answer those phone calls. One person being responsible all alone can lead to endless rings, frustrated residents, and deteriorating property.Some owners are content to work with a real estate agent as a property manager. Maybe the agent who helped you buy the investment home has offered to find you a resident and manage the property. They might be licensed and capable. But, that one human being won’t be available all the time. It’s so much better to have a team of people so that no emergency phone call gets missed.Another risk in having your real estate agent manage your property is that an agent isn’t going to be as experienced as a professional property manager in all the things that can possibly occur. The list of things that can fail in a house is long. You could have a dishwasher begin leaking to the point that your entire kitchen is flooded. You could have residents lose heat in the middle of the night during one of the coldest weeks of the year. Maybe there’s a plumbing problem that went undetected for weeks or months and now it’s coming to a head, and everything is flooded and floorboards are rotting.Everything in the house has a lifespan. Property managers understand this. They spend every day of their professional lives dealing with appliances and systems and maintenance vendors and contractors. They know the law and they know what residents need in order to feel safe. A habitable home isn’t a suggestion – it’s a legal requirement.Weather can also play a role and cause emergency maintenance issues that you might not have expected. Property managers in Florida are prepared for hurricanes. Here in Seattle, we think about earthquakes. They’re not common, but they’re also not unheard of. So, it’s important for us to be prepared for earthquakes. When something weather-related happens, it’s happening to everyone. Getting a plumber to your house in the middle of the night is challenging enough. Getting a contractor to your property after an earthquake when everyone else in the region also needs a contractor is nearly impossible.This is where a property management relationship can help. As property managers, we work with the best local vendors and contractors to protect your residents and your valuable investment. When there’s an emergency and we need those vendors right away, they’re willing to respond to us. This is a benefit that not a lot of individual owners or self-managing rental property owners can access.Unforeseen circumstances are difficult to plan for, but you still have to be prepared. Have a plan in place and make sure you’ve communicated all emergency plans to your residents. When something terrible does happen, you’ll still have a mess to clean up, but you’ll also have a process to follow that makes the whole thing more tolerable.It seems simple, but if you don’t handle an emergency right away, you open yourself up to habitability issues that can turn into big fines. At the same time, you could be putting your residents in jeopardy. We can help you avoid that. If you have any questions, please contact us at Mynd Property Management in Seattle.

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How To Handle Maintenance Emergencies

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Maintenance emergencies are inevitable—especially when renting a property. Today we will be speaking with Doug Brien. Doug is the CEO of Mynd Property Management and he will be discussing the best way for any investor to successfully manage whatever emergency may arise.Alex Osenenko: Boys and girls, Alex here with Mynd Property Management. We're talking about investing in Vallejo real estate. Vast topic, but I have a good, solid, knowledgeable guests to help us unpack some of the potential icebergs or opportunities within the Vallejo area. His name is Doug Brien. Doug, how are you?Doug Brien: I'm doing well. How are you doing? You sound good!Alex Osenenko: Good, thanks, great to hear. So, Doug is CEO of Mynd, which is important. But I think even more relevant—he was a founder and CEO of a company called Waypoint which purchased over 750 homes in Vallejo area. So, he knows a thing or two. Today's topic is specifically on how to handle maintenance emergency in your rental home in Vallejo. How would you go about that, Doug?Doug Brien: Yes, so this is obviously something you’ve got to deal with properties anywhere you buy. We owned all over the country and, I think, one of the good things about Vallejo is, in the Bay Area, a lot of the tradespeople that work all over the Bay Area—they live in Vallejo. So you can actually find lots of good, local, reasonably-priced tradespeople. I think the key is, you’ve got to find the ones that are willing to come after-hours. That just happens to be when most emergencies happen. That can be a little bit tricky, and I think this is one of these areas where tapping into a good local property manager can be really helpful because they've gone through and typically vetted all the best vendors and found the ones that can basically service after-hours emergencies. You know, if you want to spend the time and find those vendors, you can. And, the good news is, they're fairly plentiful in the area.Alex Osenenko: Gotcha. Any specific qualifying criteria. By the way, before I ask this question—we've done the sort of local deep dive series on real estate investing for Seattle now and few other towns in the Bay Area as well. Oakland. Specifically, for Vallejo, the access to smart, good, solid tradespeople is good, but how would you go about choosing? We're talking about building a team, you have to have a team. Because there's electrician, there's a plumber, and there's this and that, how would you go about interviewing them and qualifying them and even handling your relationship? Because look, you only have one property. You're not really that important.Doug Brien: That's right. I mean, we all think we are, but if you’ve got one property, you’re not that important. That's right. So, I think the way I've always gone about it is, you have to know enough about how the trades work to be able to interview them and really probe it and figure out, are they going to be good? Are their prices appropriate? Are they going to be timely in terms of when you need service? I think it’s about interviewing them. But again, you’ve got to kind of know what you're talking about to ask the right questions. These guys are really good at giving generic, high-level answers to people who are newbies and don't really know the right questions to ask.And then two—and maybe more important—is to find other investors. There's lots of meet-up groups and other ways to meet other investors and I would talk to them and say, “hey, who do you use? How do they work out for you? How's the pricing? Are they responsive? High-quality? talk to your fellow investors.Alex Osenenko: That's a great idea. So, boys and girls, if you are, for example, a programmer in San Jose and you’re investing in Vallejo, and you don't know and don't understand like me—any kind of trades and how plumbing works and all that—I think the good advice would be to hire a property manager or, at least, you'll get in with other investors and group-think and borrow ideas from each other. So that was great, Doug. Thank you very much for your time. Those of you who are interested in Vallejo real estate and want to learn more—go to Mynd.co. We've done a number of episodes with Doug on the subjects—some of the good reasons, some of the potential pitfalls. Check it out. Mynd.co, M-Y-N-D dot CO. Put in the search Vallejo Real Estate. All of it will pop at you and you'll get educated. Doug, thank you for your time.Doug Brien: Hey, thank you.Alex Osenenko: And thanks for watching.For investors who prefer to self-manage their properties, it is imperative to build a team of professional tradespeople to mitigate any problem that may arise. Building such relationships can prove to be difficult, however, especially for new investors or those investors with very few properties. By hiring a property manager instead, one gains immediate access to an established infrastructure of trade professionals to immediately manage any problem or emergency.

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How to Handle Emergency Maintenance

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Maintenance emergencies are always a possibility, especially when renting a property. As such, having a team of experts and vendors to rely upon can mean the difference between fixing the problem now and fixing the problem in the morning. Scott Raymond is the founder of Raymond Property Management—now part of Mynd—and today he is here to discuss how to tackle such emergencies when they do occur and how some emergencies might be avoided, altogether.Alex: Boys and girls, Alex here with Mynd Property Management. Today we're talking all about investing in the Sacramento area. My guest today is Scott Raymond. Scott, how are you?Scott Raymond: Doing great, Alex.Alex: Great. Scott has a decade of experience investing in Sacramento, specifically. He's very successful in doing so. He founded his own property management company, Raymond Property Management, which is now part of Mynd, so very excited about that. The topic we want to cover today is what to do or how to handle an emergency maintenance situation with your rental.Scott Raymond: That's a good one, Alex. Most non-life threatening maintenance emergencies really have to do with plumbing or the HVAC system not working in extreme weather. Plumbing issues would be like a water leak or a sewer backup. An HVAC failure would be, the air conditioning's not working and it's 110 degrees outside or the heater's not working and it's freezing outside.So if you're self-managing, you need to have a reliable, stable group of vendors that you can call on—that will be there when you need them, like in the middle of the night or holidays, and won't completely price gauge you.Otherwise, my suggestion is to hire a property management company that has a dedicated staff of maintenance techs and vendors that can handle any problem, pretty much at any time.Alex: Yeah. So, we've done a similar interview with Enrique Jevons in Seattle. His sort of advice was—I think very similar to yours, but he was more specific into building a team—you have to have a team in place before you need them.Scott Raymond: Absolutely.Alex: Do you have any tips on how to build a team as an investor? I mean, I understand hiring a property manager gives you access to those teams, but folks who are not currently involved with property management companies, how would they go about building a team?Scott Raymond: I’ve got to tell you; the bad news is it's very tough. You know, if I'm a real estate investor and I have one rental house, I'm not going to get on anybody's radar, I'm not going to be considered a top client or top person for a plumber or an HVAC vendor or electrician to call.When I call them, I'm just going to be like any other customer. So it's really, unfortunately not until you get some real scale, three, four or five properties where you can give these people consistent work. When you start to give these vendors consistent work, that's when they put you on their team, you put them on your team and that's how that really works. But other than that, you're just another client calling off of Google to the local plumber trying to get a priority fix on an emergency issue.Alex: There you go. Get big or hire a property manager or be smart and do both. That's the advice. Thanks for your time today, Scott.Scott Raymond: Thanks, Alex.Alex: And all of you watching, thank you for watching. Go to mynd.co to find a number of other interviews Scott and I have done on investing in Sacramento. Until then, much love.Maintenance emergencies are bound to occur when owning a rental property. So, having the right team of vendors is the best way to tackle any emergency you may encounter. Building relationships with reliable experts and vendors can be quite difficult, however, especially for new investors or those with relatively few properties.Having an infrastructure in place before you start renting is imperative. By hiring a property manager, you gain a devoted team of vendors to handle whatever emergency may arise. And while self-managing is a viable option for many investors, the scale and expertise of a property management company can save you time and money by providing dedicated experts to fix any problems before they become worse.

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What Does a Reno Property Owner Do in Case of an Emergency

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Maintenance emergencies are guaranteed when owning or renting a property. Our guest today is Trevor Steadman, Portfolio Manager for Mynd Property Management in Reno. Trevor is here to discuss how to handle emergencies as they occur, and what options a property owner has in such a scenario.Steve Rozenberg: Hey, everyone. This is Steve Rozenberg with Mynd Property Management and I'm joined here today with Trevor Steadman who is the Portfolio Manager for the Reno Division of Mind Property Management. Trevor, thanks for joining me today.Trevor Steadman: Thanks, Steve. Always a pleasure to be on your podcast.Steve Rozenberg: Thanks. So what I want to ask you is, this is a big question and a big fear a lot of people have when it comes to owning a rental property, the “emergency,” right? You know, everyone fears, what do I do when someone calls me at 2am and the toilets backed up and it's an emergency? Well, first of all, I've never had anybody call me at 2AM. But again, I think it's important to understand, in Reno, in Nevada, there's certain things that constitute an emergency and there's certain things that are not. So, if I'm an investor, how would you suggest that I handle an emergency to begin with?Trevor Steadman: Great question, and always a common question we have a lot of our investors. What determines what an emergency actually is? I think any landlord knows that the tenants have a whole laundry list of things that they consider the emergency category where we know that some of those items don't belong in there. So, actually defining what an emergency is and setting that expectation with the resident, too, as to what the response time would be for typical things is also important.Just to kind of start off the bat, my typical go to is fire, flood, heat and water issues. Those are always ones you’ve got to watch out for. It goes back to the integrity of the home, habitability of the actual dwelling, and making sure that you have vendors lined up to actually get to these items and not puts you in a legal issue, too. Residents have rights, the state is changing the atmosphere, the dynamic, and so, we have to make sure we're in tune with what needs to be fixed and what the priority should be.Steve Rozenberg: I think, also, what need to realize is, when you are an investor and you own a rental property, you are in the customer service business and you have a client and that client is the tenant and if the resident is not feeling like they're being treated correctly, they have every right to leave.Now, if you put them in a hazardous situation that maybe their family or something is in peril and you knowingly do not fix that situation or allow it to get worse, now it could get into some litigation and lawsuits and all those things that happen. But again, I think what's important, and you said it very clearly in the beginning, you've got to understand, number one, what is an emergency and do you clearly define that with the resident to say this is considered an emergency, here's the list. Here's a list of things that are not. Don't call me at 2am because your light bulb is not working. That is not an emergency.I know, in certain areas, if you have a property and there are two bathrooms and one of the bathroom is not working, that is not emergency; however, if there's only one bathroom and that bathroom stops working, now it becomes an emergency.So again, you have to know that you have to understand, if it's below a certain temperature, maybe you have to make sure that the heat is working. Above a certain temperature, maybe not. So these are things that you want to make sure you understand. It's important that you do your homework, as an investor, to make sure you're not putting yourself in a position.Because you're at the movies one night, and the tenant calls you with something and you get upset, you have to remember you're running a business. And there are a lot of laws that protect both the owner, as well as the tenant, but you have to make sure that you understand those laws and you stay within the confines of those laws and you are not putting anybody in an unsafe or uninhabitable situation. Would you agree with that?Trevor Steadman: That's exactly it. And we see it every day when a work order service requests come through. We have to assess the priority on that and set the expectations of the resident and also keep our clients out of the courtroom. We see a lot of cases that go to litigation or go to civil justice court where it's clear as day that the landlord was in the wrong for not taking care of something. And when you put it on paper, it looks a lot worse than the phone call when you're at the movies. So, that's a perfect example of things you have to hop on and you do have an obligation to take care of it.Steve Rozenberg: Absolutely. And if you don't have that ability, hire a management company. I mean, it doesn't mean that you have to know these laws, but you want to hire and be around the people that do. So, let's say they want to talk to you about managing that property, how do they get ahold of you, Trevor?Trevor Steadman: Well, I do answer my phone at two in the morning so that’s perfectly fine with me. They can actually give me a call 775-335-0124 or shoot me an email. Trevor.steadman@mynd.co and we can answer the questions they have and maybe manage the rental property so they can enjoy their movie.Steve Rozenberg: That's great. And if you'd like to learn more about being an investor and be more involved, I would suggest you join our Facebook group, the Mastermynd Real Estate Investment Club. A lot of investors in there. They talk about these very things. We learn from each other. I'm in there. Trevor is in there. A lot of investors are in there. It's all about learning and educating and helping each other. Mastermynd Real Estate Investment Club.Or if you want to learn more about Mynd, in general, go to our website, mynd.co. M-Y-N-D.co. I'm Steve Rozenberg and this is Trevor Steadman. Thanks for watching, we'll talk to you guys later. Bye-bye.Maintenance emergencies can prove to be the most difficult aspect of owning and renting a property. The four major emergencies a tenant or owner will encounter are generally fire, flood, heat and water issues. Outlining this for a tenant can help an owner avoid any random, non-emergency 2am calls. Likewise, having a trustworthy team of vendors to answer the call when an actual emergency occurs is key to success in the Reno market, and in the investment market, overall.

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How to Handle Emergency Rental Property Maintenance in Houston

Emergencies are often the most stressful aspect of owning a rental property. Today we are speaking with Margo Broughton with the Houston division of Mynd about what investors or property managers should expect in an emergency and how to determine if an emergency is occurring, overall.Steve Rozenberg: Hi everyone. This is Steve Rozenberg with Mynd Property Management and I'm here with Margo Broughton from the Houston division of Mynd Property Management, and Margo has been a property manager for 37 years.Margo Broughton: A very long time.Steve Rozenberg: Very long time. What we want to talk about today is, Margo, if I'm an investor and I hear the word emergency, how do I identify, number one, what I need to do in an emergency? What is an emergency? Just kind of give me some understanding from a property manager's perspective of giving me some educational tips.Fire, Flood and BloodMargo Broughton: Sure, absolutely. Well, one thing is a little bit reassuring for you as a property owner, there are very few things that are considered emergencies, especially in the state of Texas, there's almost nothing that's considered an emergency.Steve Rozenberg: I think it's important for people to understand is knowing the definition of what is an emergency.Margo Broughton: Absolutely, absolutely. The overall understanding is fire, flood, and blood.Steve Rozenberg: Okay, fire, flood, and blood.Margo Broughton: Those are probably the biggest emergencies you're ever going to have. Now, what tenants think are an emergency, and what a property owner thinks are an emergency are two entirely different things. Typically, property managers or management companies will have a set of guidelines that they use. For example, you might say, “well, an AC being out is an emergency if the temperature is over X amount,” then you might consider that an emergency. And basically then you want to get out there within 24-48 hours to get something fixed. But again, it's not a code that it's an emergency, but certainly in the middle of summer in Texas, a tenant will think that an AC being out is an emergency.

Know the Law

Steve Rozenberg: Right, and then obviously there are laws, Texas property code, that will dictate what the law actually states. That's the end all-be all when it comes to emergency, un-emergency.Margo Broughton: Absolutely. I took a quote actually out of the Texas property code here. According to the Texas property code, a reasonable time to make repairs is all it says, so it's very ambiguous. It's kind of, you have to sort of read between the lines. But what it says in our Texas property code is that there is a presumption that seven days is a reasonable time to address something, and that's not even to fix it. That's to go out, check it out, maybe get a contractor, have it dispatched, that sort of thing. You want to have it addressed within seven days according to Texas property.

Is the Property Safe and Habitable?

Steve Rozenberg: Okay. Now, let's talk about safety and habitability of a property, because that's important. It may not be considered quote, unquote an “emergency,” but it could be making the house unsafe or uninhabitable.Margo Broughton: Absolutely. One of the things that I like to talk about when we're talking about emergencies, is if you are doing periodic inspections or assessments of your properties, that's going to help, hopefully bringing down the number of emergencies that you have. So you can look at it ahead of time and kind of take a proactive stance. That's going to help. Now if a property becomes uninhabitable, let's say as we experienced in Houston, as you know, during hurricane Harvey, properties became uninhabitable because of that storm. If that's the case, you can't hold a tenant to the lease during that time. In situations like that you would have to let them out of the lease and give their security deposit back.Steve Rozenberg: Right. And just so people understand, uninhabitable: sewage, rat infestation, those kinds of things, right?Margo Broughton: Yeah, rats, sewage, bedbugs—all of those things will affect the health and safety of an ordinary tenant. And that's kind of the key. Those are good points that you just brought up, that those things will affect the health and safety of people.

Making Repairs Without Notice

Steve Rozenberg: Let me ask you this, and obviously in the lease agreement it normally states that you have to give prior notification to getting into a property if you're going to repair it, but there are certain times where you don't have to give that.Margo Broughton: That's right. That's right.Steve Rozenberg: What are those times?Margo Broughton: Most of the time what we see in property management and where it happens a lot is water. If you've got standing water, falling water, rising water, all of those things obviously can seriously affect the house, not only damage everything in there: electrical, sheet rock, all of it.Steve Rozenberg: Water is dangerous.Margo Broughton: Water is bad. You want to get in there as fast as you can. And as long as you can get in there and just even knock on the door and say, “hey, I'm here to fix that,” most tenants are going to be happy to see you.Steve Rozenberg: Right. If there's a storm going on and the roof blows off, you're not going to make an appointment with the tenant. That's an emergency situation. You're going to go there and fix it, and you're going to get it taken care of or send someone.

Making Repairs When a Tenant Owes Money…

Steven Rozenberg: I think there is something that's interesting that, as a landlord, most people do not know, that is if there's a tenant that owes money and they have a problem with the property, and this is a Texas law—can you explain what that is for the people?Margo Broughton: Absolutely. Landlords are happy to know this, that if the tenant owes money for rent, they haven't paid their rent, they call in a work order, you don't have to fix that work order until that rent is paid in full. That is stated also in Texas property code.Steve Rozenberg: Right. Obviously you don't want to make your property worse by proving a point. You've got flooding water, you don't say, “you owe me money, I'm not going to fix it,” but it's something to note that if the tenant owes you money and they start saying this needs to be fixed, and this needs to be fixed, and they start making a litany of lists that are going down, you can say, “wait a second, by law, I do not have to fix anything, because you owe money.”Margo Broughton: Right. And you also don't have to fix anything if they caused the damage. If themselves, or their friends, or their visitors caused damage, it is not up to the landlord to fix those things. And if the landlord does fix them, that certainly can be charged back to the tenant.

...Or If They Caused the Emergency

Steve Rozenberg: What if they caused the emergency?Margo Broughton: Again, so this happens where a tenant might call the police, I just had one of these the other day, the police come bust down the door because they're having some kind of domestic dispute. Now the house is not secure. Is that an emergency? Sure. That's probably an emergency. So of course we're going to go out and take care of it because of liability reasons, but we're going to charge that back to the tenant.Steve Rozenberg: It's going to go back to the tenant, yeah. So, I think what people need to hear and know is that yes, there are emergencies, but again, there's rules and maybe caveats with those emergencies. Like you said, not everything is an emergency, and most things are not emergencies unless the house is flooding, it's on fire or there's blood, as you said. But again, it's just something to understand that, when you are a landlord here in Texas, there are laws that protect the landlord and that protect the tenant, as well. There's things that you need to know and understand, so Texas property code is obviously good for you to know and understand. Margo, if they want to maybe find us, and they want to know a little bit more about Mynd, obviously they can go to a website, mynd.co. M-Y-N-D.co. And again, they can look us up online. Margo, thank you very much. I appreciate it.Margo Broughton: Absolutely. Absolutely.Steve Rozenberg: We'll talk to you guys later. Bye. Bye.Margo Broughton: Bye.It might be reassuring to know that, as an investor or property manager, very few things are considered an emergency. While a tenant may have a different perspective on this statement, typically an emergency, from a property management perspective, involves one of three things—fire, flood or blood.Likewise, while not often considered an immediate emergency, certain situations, such as a broken heater or air conditioner, can become an emergency, depending on the time of year. As such, it is always best to keep up with regular maintenance, have a dependable team of vendors, and know what rules and regulations are spelled out in codes and ordinances that dictate resolving such a scenario.

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What Is Considered a Maintenance Emergency, How to Handle it | Atlanta, GA

Every rental property will have emergency maintenance required at some point. As an investor in Atlanta, you need to be prepared for how you will define and respond to an emergency at your rental home.

Legal Definition of Maintenance Emergency

First, you need to know what the Atlanta law requires when it comes to emergencies. Then, you need to go further than what the law requires in order to provide a high level of service to your residents. You have a responsibility to provide services for someone who is renting your home. If there’s a flood at the property or the heat doesn’t work when it’s cold outside or the air conditioning doesn’t work when it’s hot outside, you need to respond right away. If the residents only have one toilet and it stops working; that’s a legal emergency.Other types of repair requests won’t meet the legal definition of an emergency, but they are things you should take care of immediately anyway. For example, if your resident reports that the refrigerator is broken, you can address it with the same sense of urgency that you’d address a lack of heat or water. This helps your relationship with your resident. And, if the fridge stops working on a Friday night, do you really want them to wait until Monday to have it taken care of? Legally, that’s okay, but think about the food that will be spoiled and the way your resident will feel about your responsiveness.Customer service is different from legal obligation.

Know Your Atlanta Rental Property

It’s also important that you know your rental property. If it’s a plumbing emergency that your residents are calling about, make sure you can tell them where the shut-off valve is. You need to know where the HVAC system is located, and whether you’ll need to access it in the basement or the attic or in a cage in the backyard. If you know what you’re looking for, you can address the problem quickly. You can also give your residents a full orientation to the property when they move in. Put something in writing so they know where all the emergency shut-offs are. This will help make emergency situations less traumatic for everyone.When you work with qualified vendors and contractors, your property will also be better protected. Those professionals can tell you the specifics of what’s going on and what it means for the short and long term. Having the right information is crucial to acting correctly. If the person who responds to your emergency doesn’t know anything about the problem and can’t figure out how to stop the bleeding, you’ll be in a worse position than you were before the emergency occurred. Make sure you’re surrounded by capable and qualified contractors.

Communicating with Your Residents

Having a good relationship in place with your residents will make emergencies far more manageable.Communication is especially important. You’ll need an established set of rules and standards that define exactly what an emergency is – and what an emergency isn’t. A door that isn’t closing properly isn’t going to be an emergency at 1:00 a.m. unless it’s the door to the property and it makes the home unsafe to live in. Establish what qualifies as an emergency, and make sure your residents are aware of how to handle each issue as they come up.If the house is flooding, everyone will consider this to be an emergency. Instead of waiting for you to arrive with a plumber, however, the residents can take a few steps on their own. They can shut the water off so the flooding doesn’t get worse. Have this conversation ahead of time and write up an emergency response plan so everyone understands their expectations and responsibilities.When you and your resident sign the lease, provide something that can easily be posted on the fridge or on a wall that includes your emergency contact information and the first steps that they should take when something happens.

Emergencies Will Happen – but Not Often

It’s a good idea to remember that emergencies will happen, but they won’t happen on a regular basis. Few of the calls you get will actually require you to drop everything and rush over to the property. While you have to address things quickly, a house burning down is not something you will be called about during most tenancies.From a legal standpoint, not a lot of repair issues are even emergencies. But, from a customer service point of view, you want your residents to know that you care about your property and you’re committed to providing a secure and comfortable place to live. Keep them safe and happy.The habitability laws are different throughout the country. The way you deal with HVAC emergencies in Atlanta is different than the way you deal with them in Florida. If you’re working with a property management company, make sure you choose someone who understands what’s required in Atlanta. You need the local market expertise. An Atlanta property manager will know all the best air conditioning vendors to call. If you’re living in another state, trying to find a contractor at 2:00 a.m. is nearly impossible.Emergencies may happen, and the most important thing you can do is ensure your priorities are aligned with those of your resident.Talk to us further about Atlanta rental property maintenance and how to handle emergencies. Contact us at Mynd Property Management.We also have other opportunities to connect with us and learn more about investing in Atlanta. You can also visit our Facebook group of investors, which is called Master Mynd. It’s a real estate investors’ club, where you can exchange ideas with other owners. Check out our weekly podcast as well, called The Myndful Investor. We invite leaders in real estate and property management to talk about their success and, more importantly, their failures. There’s a lot to learn from this relatable content.

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What Is Considered a Maintenance Emergency for San Antonio Rental Properties?

Today, we are discussing maintenance emergencies in your San Antonio rental property and how you should respond. If you don’t have a plan in place already to respond to emergencies, we suggest you create a policy and a procedure that will help you effectively and efficiently handle these things. Your prompt response is important for two reasons:

It protects the condition and the future of your investment property.It keeps your tenants protected and feeling secure.

We’ll tell you what we do at Mynd Property Management, and we’ll offer some advice on how to get a handle on this yourself if you’re managing a rental property on your own.

Identify What an Emergency Really Is

When a light bulb burns out, that’s not exactly an emergency.The first thing you need to do is establish some boundaries and expectations about what constitutes an emergency and what doesn’t. At Mynd, we notify our residents about emergency procedures and the definition of an emergency before they even move in. We want to avoid any emergency calls that aren’t actually emergencies.Every repair issue is unpleasant. A toilet that doesn’t flush in one bathroom is a huge inconvenience, but if there’s another working toilet in the house, it’s not an emergency. Make sure you and your residents are on the same page about emergencies. You don’t need your residents calling and texting at all hours for things that you simply won’t be able to respond to right away.If the house is on fire or there’s a major leak that’s causing water to flood the home, those are obviously emergencies. Be clear and specific with your residents. Put the information in writing in your lease agreement, of course. But, it’s also worth it to have a discussion with your residents so they understand what you’re saying and how you define an emergency.

Rental Property Emergency Procedures

At Mynd, when an emergency occurs and our resident reports us, we immediately determine what needs to be done first. Our team handles the situation from start to finish, and while we’re taking care of things, we notify the property owner.You need to be responsive, and you need to have a procedure in place. If you don’t already have a process in writing, you need to create one.The most important thing you can do is stop the emergency as soon as possible. This starts by educating your residents. If the house is flooding, you don’t want those residents waiting for you to come over while the water rises. You want to make sure your resident knows how to shut off the water.When you’re thinking about maintenance emergencies at your rental property, you want to make sure you’re prepared for them before they happen. Does your resident know where the shut-off valve is for the water? Do your residents know where the gas line is, and how to shut it down? These are things you can show them with pictures and instructions in your lease agreement or through an orientation process when they’re moving in.Every rental property owner is afraid they’re going to get that call at 2:00 a.m. that something’s wrong. If you do get that call, you want your residents to be capable and prepared. Then, you can step in and take the necessary actions.Above all, make sure the rental home is safe and habitable.

Get to Know the Texas Property Code

In San Antonio, the Texas Property Code determines what is and is not an emergency. If you aren’t familiar with the Texas Property Code, you should really educate yourself on it. Renting out a property in San Antonio or anywhere in Texas is nearly impossible if you don’t understand the requirements and responsibilities in this law. Each state and city will have its own requirements, but for us, the Texas Property Code helps us establish the legal definition of what an emergency is.Following the legal definition of an emergency is not negotiable, and your standards and procedures need to follow the legal guidelines. There’s also good customer service. When you’re providing a great rental experience for your residents and you’re focused on retaining those good residents for the long term, you want to fix something right away whether it’s an emergency or not. Don’t leave things for too long because you’ll cause further damage to your property and you’ll have a frustrated resident who is not having their needs met.Responding to maintenance emergencies with good customer service in mind is important. At Mynd, we will notify our residents of our plan and let them know what they should do. We’ll guide them through any actions that they need to take right away, and then we’ll assure them that the first available vendor will be at the property to completely take care of the issue.Know the law and respond appropriately. Make sure you’re communicating well with your residents and have an established and written definition in place so they know what an emergency really looks like.This can get complicated, so if you’re in doubt about the legal requirements of maintenance emergencies or you’re not sure you have the time and resources to respond to an emergency at your rental home, you need to consider working with a San Antonio property management company.We’d be happy to help. Contact us at Mynd Property Management if you have any questions about emergency maintenance repairs in San Antonio or surrounding areas like New Braunfels, Converse, and neighboring communities.We also have other opportunities to connect with us and learn more about investing in San Antonio. You can also visit our Facebook group of investors, which is called Master Mynd. It’s a real estate investors’ club, where you can exchange ideas with other owners. Check out our weekly podcast as well, called The Myndful Investor. We invite leaders in real estate and property management to talk about their success and, more importantly, their failures. There’s a lot to learn from this relatable content.

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Sacramento Investors and Landlords: What Should You Do to Prepare for a Global Emergency?

If you’re an investor and you own rental property in Sacramento or the surrounding area, you may be wondering how you can prepare for an emergency. If there’s a disaster, whether it’s local or global, you want to be prepared.Today, we are talking to Sacramento investors and property owners about some of the things they should be thinking about.

Proactive Planning for Sacramento Investors

It’s very important to be proactive. You need to have a detailed and strong plan in place ahead of time so you’re not scrambling to figure things out in the middle of the emergency. The best offense is a great defense, and you can defend yourself and your property against all the uncertainty and fear that comes with emergencies by having a good crisis plan in place.There are several things to address in your emergency plan. If you’re renting out a multi-family property, for example, you’ll want to be sure that all the exits are clearly marked. If all of your tenants need to vacate the property immediately or in the dark, they’ll need to know exactly how to get out. If you’re renting out a single-family home, make sure it’s up to code and not vulnerable to any potential natural disasters that could occur without warning. There are lots of laws and regulations around earthquake strapping on water heaters, for example. Those laws are in place for a reason.Have all of this in place before you need it.

Educate your Sacramento Residents

Let your residents know how to protect themselves and your property during an emergency. They should know where the shut-off valves are for water and natural gas, and they should also know how to get to the closest local hospital. Taking care of your property is a priority, but the safety and security of your residents has to be part of your planning process.There are many different ways to educate your residents. Some people prefer to use a handbook, which you can give to people before they move into your home. You can also provide PDF handouts and flyers that give your residents detailed instructions for what to do during an emergency. You might also include contact information for local emergency personnel.There are different ways to put the necessary information in front of your residents.

Put Together an Emergency Checklist

It’s important to be aware of who your regional authorities are. You’ll also need to know which state, local, and federal agency will be best equipped to help you. Put together a checklist of people to contact. That might be the CDC if you have an illness outbreak or FEMA if there’s a flood or an earthquake.The next thing on your checklist should be ensuring your insurance policies are up to date. Make sure you know where your policies are, and have a plan for how to get to them during an emergency. Paper copies are not always safe, so make sure they’re scanned and loaded into the cloud or an online server. You’ll want to be able to provide the relevant documents to your resident, property management company, or insurance agent.With the ability to take videos and pictures of your property, do everything you can to document its condition and what you have inside of it. Before your resident moves in, take a video that shows how the home looks. If there’s damage from a disaster, you’ll have proof of what the property looked like prior to the emergency occurring. Documenting the starting line may help when you’re filing claims or asking for help.Prepare your own protocols. Insurance companies have their policies, and you know what they entail. When an emergency actually occurs, you want to be able to go directly to your plan of action. When you have a standardized model of how you’ll respond, you’re going to feel more prepared and empowered. If you don’t have a protocol for something, you’ll have to put one together. This is vital: have all the documents and documentation you need, and make sure it’s safely stored online.Your checklist is best put together when you have time to sit down and plan. You don’t want to be making a list of things to do when you’re in the heat of an emergency. Ask yourself about what you’ll hope to have when you’re in a panic or dealing with something terrible. What do you hope you’ll remember? Think about what your residents will need you to remember. What are they hoping you have the foresight to think about now?If you’re renting out a multi-family property for example, someone within that building should know how to turn off the water and the gas. If there’s water coming through a ceiling, you don’t want to wait for someone else to respond. Give your residents instructions on how to stop the immediate flooding.In the case of a larger emergency, remember that first responders and emergency personnel are going to be backed up. A lot of people will need help, so if you know how to stop the damage from actively occurring on your property, you’ll be in a much better position.

Understanding the Sacramento Region

In the Sacramento area, there are the local authorities such as fire departments and hospitals that will be your best resources if there’s an emergency. Your residents should know who they are and how to contact them.Sacramento also has a 3-1-1 system for resources during an emergency. They list a ton of stuff and provide information on where to find shelters, resources, and help. Even federal resources are linked, so it’s a great starting point. Google is also amazing these days with phone numbers and resources.Fortunately, Sacramento isn’t tornado prone. We are in a pretty stable area weather-wise, and we don’t have to deal with hurricanes or dramatic snows. But, some areas are designated flood zones, so make sure you’re insured. Know your coverage limits and exclusions. Not all insurance policies include earthquake coverage, for example. It’s typically something you have to add on, and you want to be prepared for that.If you have any questions about how to prepare your rental property for an emergency, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Mynd Property Management. We’re here to assist you.You can also visit our Facebook group of investors, which is called Master Mynd. It’s a real estate investors’ club, where you can exchange ideas with other owners. Check out our weekly podcast as well, called The Myndful Investor. We invite leaders in real estate and property management to talk about their success and, more importantly, their failures. There’s a lot to learn from this relatable content.

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What Should Sacramento Landlords Do If They're Caught in the Middle of an Emergency Situation?

What do you do if you own a rental property in Sacramento and you find yourself in the middle of an emergency situation? We’re exploring that with our local expert today, and helping investors understand how to respond to and handle an emergency when they have rental homes and residents to think about in Sacramento.

Communicate Proactively During Emergencies

Communicate proactively, especially with your residents. Don’t assume they know everything. Often when people are operating from a place of fear and reactive behaviors, a little extra communication can go a long way.Keep your residents in the loop. If the emergency is an electrical issue or a water issue, communicate with your residents in the building through email or mass texts. If you’re only working with one or two residents, make a phone call. Make sure they know what you’re doing to help. If there’s an active emergency and you’re living in a home that doesn’t have power, every minute can feel like an hour. So, get ahead of the curve as soon as possible. Treat your residents right and make them feel like you’re on it and taking care of them.

Establish Sacramento Emergency Protocols

Prior to an emergency happening, make sure you and your resident understand what an emergency actually is. At the property, we may think of emergencies as something that meets the standard of the housing code or our business model. Residents may have other ideas. So, put something consistent in place. For example, if a toilet isn’t working, that may not be an emergency in a property with three bathrooms, but it would be an emergency in a property with only one bathroom.Make sure your residents are empowered to mitigate the emergency as well. If the house is flooding, have your residents shut off the water valve if it’s safe. When you have water flooding the home, the first step you take isn’t necessary to call the landlord. Stop the flood first, and then make the call.There’s a pecking order. When your house is on fire, you call the fire department, not the landlord.

Expect After-Effects of Emergencies

Every emergency will take a lot of time and attention in the moment. But, you have to expect that it will kick up some downstream things, too. An illness, for example, will impact the economy as we are seeing right now. Be ready for the questions you’ll receive from your resident. You may need to change some collection protocols. If there’s a lockdown, you’ll need to make sure everyone in your building is safe. If there’s an earthquake and the water and power are shut off, you’ll need to work on relocation. Every emergency will come with its own set of circumstances, and those will lead to additional circumstances.Be consistent but flexible. There are fair housing and discrimination laws in place. So, if an emergency occurs and you decide to change the way you collect rent for one tenant who has lost a job, you’ll have to be prepared to offer the same consideration to your other tenants.There’s a lot of nuance. You need to be fair, but you also need to provide relief in each situation. It’s reasonable to hold the line on existing policies. But, if the government halts the enforcement of those policies, you will want to have your own playbook in place that addresses how you treat specific things.It’s very difficult to find a one-size-fits all approach. It depends on the severity and the rippling effect.

Sacramento Owners and Their Responsibilities to Residents

You have to be well-versed in the law and what your parameters are. Owners need to remember, however, that you are providing a shelter and a home for residents, and there’s a real responsibility that comes with that. Be prepared for difficult situations and tough conversations. You’re working with people during fearful and difficult times. Everyone is in reaction mode, and this presents you with an opportunity to be a good human and a compassionate person.You’re an investor and you’re running a business, but there are emotions running on the other side of that business. It’s not always numbers when one of your residents loses a job that has supported her family for 30 years. There are human beings behind every door you own. This is a customer service business, and sometimes emotions run high and things are said and done that aren’t logical. You have to remember that.This is a people business. Your business revolves around the people who are renting your property.Emotions will be a driving factor, which is why the communication we discussed at the beginning of this conversation is so important. Resources will slow down. Contractors and first responders will be swamped. Communities will need to rebuild.Make sure your residents know what’s going on. If someone says to you that you won’t have an update for two weeks, at least you have that expectation. If you’re not told anything, however, you’re going to feel the weight piling up more and more every day.Getting back to someone to say ‘I don’t have any information’ is still an answer. Ignoring them is not an answer.Don’t assume your residents know what’s going on, and don’t assume they’ve been through anything like this before. They may not have the confidence or peace of mind to navigate these emergency situations. Try to provide pieces of information that would make you feel helped if you were on the other side.If you’ve gone through a heavy flood before, dealing with a flood the second time is a lot more familiar. You’re more confident in your ability to get through it. But if you’ve never dealt with a flood before, the sight of running water in your house makes you fearful. It’s natural and expected.conAs the property owner, you need to be the cool head. People are feeling emotional. You want to be fair, and there are people’s lives at stake. Remember that.If you need any help with emergency planning or Sacramento property management, we invite you to contact our team at Mynd Property Management.You can also visit our Facebook group of investors, which is called Master Mynd. It’s a real estate investors’ club, where you can exchange ideas with other owners. Check out our weekly podcast as well, called The Myndful Investor. We invite leaders in real estate and property management to talk about their success and, more importantly, their failures. There’s a lot to learn from this relatable content.

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How Should Rental Property Owners Prepare for a Local Emergency in Dallas?

If you own a rental property in Dallas, what can you do to prepare for a local emergency?We’re talking about emergency planning and preparation today, and it’s especially important as people in Dallas and throughout the country deal with the current emergency, which is a virus pandemic.

Put Together an Action Plan

The best way to approach any local Dallas emergency is to have an action plan. A lot of the owners we work with at Mynd Property Management are not in Dallas. They might not even be in Texas. So, we need to be prepared for out-of-state owners and investors who are desperate to keep in touch and follow up on how their property and their residents are faring during any emergency.Action plans can help you stay focused, organized, and prepared. Depending on the emergency, it will include any number of things. Maybe it means finding out who the government resources are at agencies that can help you. If you need to relocate a resident, you’ll want to know how to find the best options and where to go when you need help.

Prepare for Resident Relocation

If the emergency that occurs makes your Dallas rental property inhabitable, you’ll need to prepare to move your residents out of the home. This may be complicated, because most emergencies will attract first responders and other agents from outside of the area, and they’re going to take up a lot of the temporary housing and hotel rooms. If a tornado takes down your house and the entire city of Dallas is impacted, relocating your resident is not going to be as easy as booking a room at the Motel 6 or the Sheraton.Be prepared for who you have to move. You’ll want to confirm the number of people living in the home. The action plan you put together will differ depending on whether you’re moving one person or an entire family. Is there a pet? Does someone have a disability that needs to be considered? You really need to engage with your resident so you can relocate them into the temporary housing that’s going to be best for them. You may relocate them for one day or one week. Maybe it will be longer. Have a plan, but make sure you’re flexible. That plan may need to change based on how the disaster impacts you, your community, and the recovery efforts.

Update Your Insurance Policy

When there’s an emergency that impacts your rental property, you’re going to need to know that your insurance policy is up to date and that you’re covered. Don’t wait for the emergency to happen before you find out whether you’re protected against that particular type of loss. Make it a habit to check in with your insurance agent regularly.There are a lot of different policies out there. You need to be sure your asset is covered, and you need to know what else you can count on. Maybe your landlord policy covers relocation assistance for your residents and loss of rent.Insurance is important, and you shouldn’t spend a lot of time thinking about how to save money by cutting corners on insurance policies. If the emergency in question happens to be a hail storm and you have huge holes in your roof from hail, you don’t want to find out after the fact that your policy doesn’t cover hail.

Provide Dallas Property Managers with Contact Information

When there’s an emergency, your property management company is going to need to get in touch with you. They’ll want to be in regular contact, especially if your property and your residents are seriously impacted. Make sure we have the right contact information for you.A secondary contact is also important. If you’re out of state or out of the country, you’re going to want to provide your property manager with multiple people who can get in touch with you or make decisions on your behalf. Communication is always important, and it’s especially critical during emergencies.

Prepare Financially with a Reserve

Emergencies can have an immediate physical impact, and then they can ripple through the community and the economy to have an additional impact. This is happening right now with the coronavirus. A lot of Dallas residents can’t work, and that means they can’t pay rent.You aren’t necessarily going to evict the residents in need during an emergency that affects the entire world, but you need to be prepared to make important decisions. If your residents lose their job, what will you do? Moratoriums on evictions and mortgage payments, if they become part of the response, will only last so long.If you don’t have the funds to sustain a few months of missing rental payments, you’re going to experience even more anxiety. These are the things you really need to think about when you’re putting your action plan together. A strong savings or reserve will help you survive financially until the emergency is under control. You don’t want to be in a position where rent isn’t coming in, but if that actually happens, make sure you have the financial security to come through it.There are so many discussions about what an assistance package or relief package might look like for people who have been furloughed or laid off. We don’t know what they will do or how we will be expected to handle it as landlords.We don’t always know what an emergency will look like. This is why you have to feel prepared.Whether it’s a virus or a tornado or a hurricane or a hail storm, know what steps you will take to address any needs that you, your property, or your resident may have. This might be a relocation, a physical property repair, or an interruption in cash flow. None of this is what we want, but it’s a reality that you may have to deal with.If you’d like to learn a little bit more about how to handle an emergency, please contact us at Mynd Property Management. We would be happy to be your resource and expert partner when it comes to Dallas property management.

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