If you own a rental property in Dallas, you’ll need to know how to handle maintenance emergencies. We always recommend that owners have a sound preventative maintenance plan in place. This will cut down on unexpected repairs, replacements, and outages. If you do have an emergency at your rental property, however, you’ll need to know how to handle it. Your residents will need to be prepared as well.

Get to the Root of the Maintenance Issue

It’s extremely important to focus on understanding the root of the maintenance issue, and not necessarily the result. If all the plumbing in your rental property suddenly stops working, it’s probably a foundation issue. Unless you’re from this area and your residents understand the foundation issues that are common in this area, you’re not necessarily going to suspect that as the root problem. But, foundations shift. Nine times out of 10, a shifting foundation will damage your plumbing. When this emergency is reported, you’ll need a foundation expert and a plumber.

Weather-Related Emergencies are Common

Weather-Related Emergencies are CommonYour rental property in Dallas or Fort Worth will be at the mercy of our weather. This area has all types of weather, and we never really know when it’s going to show up. In a matter of one week, there can be hail and a heat wave. There are heavy rains. All of these things can happen in a three or four-day period. So, your air conditioning might be out in the middle of winter, and that might not seem like a big deal. But, there could be a 90 degree day in November or December. Legally it’s an emergency repair that needs to be made within 48 hours of it being reported.

If you don’t fix an emergency repair within those 48 hours, you face fines or penalties. There’s a wide range of consequences, so address it fast and early.

Take Steps to Mitigate the Loss

It’s also important to understand that when you have an emergency situation at the property, your first responsibility is to make sure the residents are safe. Then, you need to stop the emergency. Make sure the water is turned off if there’s a plumbing leak. You need to train your residents on how to respond to minimize the damage while they wait for help to arrive.

Define What an Emergency Is and Is Not

Define What an Emergency Is and Is NotYou and your residents need to have a consistent understanding and definition of what an emergency is. From a logistical and legal standpoint, we have the Texas Property Code to dictate what is and isn’t an emergency. You and your residents need to be on the same page. Have something in writing, whether it’s the lease agreement or something else that outlines the definition of an emergency and provides the first important steps to take.

The Texas Property Code is the best place to start. If you don’t consider something an emergency but the Texas Property Code says it is, you’ll find yourself in serious hot water and legal trouble. If the house is flooding, that’s obviously an emergency. If it’s on fire, that’s an emergency too, and your residents need to know that they must call 9-1-1 before they call you.

Train your residents on where to find the shut off valves for water and gas. You want to communicate with the resident early and often, and you need to make sure everyone knows how to reach the appropriate emergency authorities. Keeping your house safe and habitable is your job as a landlord. Make sure you’re taking it seriously. A broken toilet in a one-bathroom condo is an emergency. A broken toilet in a three-bathroom house is not an emergency. Be clear and specific and consistent.

Maintenance emergencies will be defined first by the Texas Property Code, and then it will depend on your property, your residents, the time of year, and the temperature outside.

If you have any questions about how to handle maintenance emergencies in your Dallas rental property, please contact us at Mynd Property Management.

Also, if you want to keep your real estate investment education going, we have a number of other opportunities to connect with us. You can learn more about investing in Dallas with us online. 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.

Suggested Reading

Situation Room Podcast 2: How Will Residents Be Affected by the Coronavirus?
Situation Room Podcast 3: Taxes, Real Estate, and the Coronavirus
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