Expert Practice for Completing Tenant Maintenance Requests
Rental property maintenance is pretty common; you’re going to need repairs at your property even if it’s brand new or in relatively good condition. Things happen. Leaks begin to show up, appliances break down, and the property responds to regular wear and tear that requires you to send vendors or contractors out to the home to inspect, fix, and replace certain items.
We know that investors and owners are mindful of their bottom line. A good maintenance process can help you save money on routine and emergency repairs. So today, we’re sharing some of our expert practices with you so you’ll know how to best manage service requests and maintenance.
Maintenance Components: Tenants, Owners and Vendors
Basically the components of maintenance and service requirements cover three different parties. These are:
- The vendors, contractors, and in-house maintenance technicians who take care of making repairs and responding to service calls.
- The tenant who live in the homes and usually request the repairs or maintenance that is needed.
- Property owners who have invested in rental property or own the homes that tenants are renting.
In our experience, we have found that when you’re dealing with your tenants, they really just want to be heard. It’s okay if you can’t get to something non-urgent right away, just make sure you explain to them that you’ve received their request, you know it’s important, and you’re going to take the necessary steps to make the repair as soon as possible.
Tenants value communication and they want to know you’re paying attention to them. As a landlord, you should care about their comfort and their needs. So, show them that you will handle all of their service requests in a timely manner. If you can make them feel like they’re part of the process and have everything accomplished and wrapped up as soon as possible, you’ll have happy tenants who are willing to continue renewing their leases.
Sometimes, you will run into issues, and the repair will not go as smoothly as you’d like it to. There may be a delay in ordering parts or scheduling a vendor on a certain day might be difficult. If you follow up with your tenants and let them know what’s going on, they will likely be satisfied that you are at least aware of the problem and trying to get it resolved.
Tenant communication is often the most important concern of our service department. You can always pick up the phone and call the tenants just to give them a quick update. Don’t rely solely on email, even if that’s the way you ask them to report maintenance issues. People don’t always see their emails right away. Call or text your tenant to ensure everyone is in the loop.
Establishing and Maintaining Positive Vendor Relationships
Make sure you have good relationships with your vendors. You have to be able to trust the people you hire to do the work. You want them to be licensed, insured, and professional. Make sure you can count on them to show up when they say they will. Check their rates and compare prices so you know they’re not overcharging you. It won’t take you long to learn who you want to use and who you want to avoid. Property management companies establish preferred vendor lists, and you should do the same.
Relationships with vendors can sometimes be tenuous and hard to deal with. Don’t waste time with vendors and contractors who don’t treat you fairly and aren’t good at what they do. Screen your vendors as carefully as you screen your tenants.
At Mynd, we sometimes work with property owners who have vendors that they want to use. This is understandable. If you have a vendor who you’ve worked with for a long time and that vendor knows your property, it’s a great idea to continue working with the company. This is something that we can incorporate into our maintenance plans when we’re managing a home and dealing with vendors.
Managing Owners and Maintenance Budgets
Providing a positive maintenance experience for rental property owners is also an important part of what we do.
Obviously, there will be times when repairs and maintenance issues exceed the monetary level at which owners are comfortable. This can be difficult. When we spend more than what we’ve agreed upon with our owners, we will involve the landlord and have a discussion to decide the best course of action. Generally, when there’s a repair that’s going to cost more than $500, we would like to notify that owner about the work that needs to be done.
Each owner has their own their own threshold. When we have a repair that’s going to be expensive or time-consuming, we know that a plan needs to be put together with everyone involved. Most owners don’t want to be part of the simple repairs. When we send a maintenance tech over to fix a garbage disposal, we typically don’t notify the owner of that repair.
Our strategy is to have an understanding previously set up. When we begin working with a new property owner, we discuss the limits that they are comfortable with and we talk about our willingness to take care of repairs and minor maintenance without the involvement of the owner.
Incorporating Renovations and Construction into Service Plans
In addition to routine, preventative, and emergency maintenance, there are also more involved projects that often require our involvement. In our property management company, we assist our owners with whatever they need, whether it’s a simple fix or a major rehab project. We can take care of renovations and construction management.
This is something that we don’t typically get involved in because most of our owners invest in properties that are already in excellent condition. But, it’s a service that we are always happy to provide. If you’re investing in a home that’s going to need a lot of work before it hits the rental market, we can help you with any renovations that are required.In the past, we have management projects such as window replacements and the installation of new appliances.
We have replaced rotten wood on decks and new roofs on multi-family buildings. These things have brought us into higher dollar repairs. Some of the work we have done really pushes the price points of other management companies. We’ve overseen projects with budgets of $30,000 or $40,000.
Generally, we don’t do construction management. However, our maintenance department is prepared and equipped for any type of major capital improvement that you might need us to supervise. We are happy to get involved when our owners need special or complex things done.
Another one of our specialty service areas when it comes to construction and repairs is understanding local code requirements. We work in a lot of different cities and a lot of different states. The requirements and code enforcement details are always different. We take the time to get to know them before we do any work at all. It’s not always a simple process. For example, dealing with cities in and around the San Francisco Bay area can be a challenge. It’s hard to negotiate what we need sometimes. But, we’re not unwilling to pick up the phone and talk to city inspectors. It’s about communication and relationships.
We will work with owners to decide on the best route to take when dealing with codes and permits. They change all the time. With our apartment buildings, we always have to be aware of the permits that are required when elevators need to be fixed. It’s important to stay involved. We have a growing list of people in each city that we can talk to over time to ensure we’re keeping everything up to code. None of us want to deal with a violation.
Turnovers and Preparing Properties
Turning vacant units is one of our specialties. We understand the urgency of avoiding vacancies, and we love to get properties turned in between three and seven days. Sometimes, it could take us longer depending on the work that needs to be done. When we have to replace carpets or paint the entire interior and exterior after a longer tenancy, it might take us extra days. But, we work quickly and professionally to get your property back on the market as soon as possible. We know it’s important to you, and we know a high quality of workmanship is important to the tenants who are moving in.
We understand the importance of service tenants when it comes to maintenance and repairs. We generate income from tenants and tenants are paying everyone’s salary. They’re paying the rent, which goes to the owner and the management company. So, we understand the importance of getting tenants in quickly when we’re working on turnovers.
About Chris Bolei
Chris Bolei is the Asset Services Manager for Mynd Property Management. He has more than two decades of experience as a maintenance and repairs specialist in the single-family and multifamily rental housing sector.
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