When investors purchase a rental property, they expect that routine and preventative maintenance will be part of what they need to do to protect the condition of their investment and to meet the needs of their residents.
Emergency maintenance is something else entirely. It seems to always happen overnight or on a weekend, and it requires you to be prepared, have a team of vendors and contractors ready to respond, and a maintenance budget that can absorb the costs.
Emergencies are difficult. They are difficult on you, your tenants, and your vendors. It’s important that you have a good relationship with your residents when you have to respond to emergency maintenance. You’ll need to communicate well and stay professional. Remember – you’re running a business, and you’re responding to a business need when an emergency occurs.
Today, we’re focusing on how to prepare for and respond to emergency maintenance situations at a Portland rental property.
What do investors need to know?
Educate Your Residents on What Constitutes an Emergency
One of the biggest fears that real estate investors often have is: what am I going to do when I get a phone call from my resident at 2:00 in the morning because there’s a leak or a toilet isn’t working or the heat won’t turn on?
The answer is this: you have to set up policies and procedures, and you have to manage expectations.
Educate your residents on what is an emergency and what isn’t. Fires and large water leaks are obviously big emergencies. Anything that puts your residents in danger or puts your property in danger should be considered an emergency.
Everyone can agree that a fire or a flood is an emergency. But, beyond that you should make sure your residents are on the same page as you in terms of what requires a phone call in the middle of the night. You need to educate your residents and you need to be open to communicating with them. Before they even move in, have a conversation about the procedures that you expect them to follow when a repair is needed. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss what an emergency is and what a routine repair is.
This will help residents understand that 99 percent of the things they may have considered to be an emergency are in fact not emergencies at all. You should be thinking from a legal standpoint when it comes to identifying and explaining emergencies. Does it make the home uninhabitable?
Educating your residents through an orientation process at the move-in point is a great way to avoid any misunderstandings about emergencies. They want to be aware. You can put something in writing so they can refer to it if they’re not sure whether what they’re experiencing is an emergency. You can also give them some helpful tips and training. For example, when they’re moving in, show your residents where the water shut-off valve is. When you do this, you put a lot of power into the hands of your residents. If there is a water leak, they know how to shut off the water before calling you.
Residents can be trusted to handle the first steps of an emergency. And, they should always understand what an emergency isn’t.
Working with Professional Portland Property Managers
Emergency maintenance is one of the best reasons to hire a professional Portland property management company. It takes this headache and hassle of your plate entirely.
When you work with an experienced property manager, you get a 24-hour emergency maintenance line. Obviously, as an individual landlord, you might not be able to get a contractor out there to your rental property at 2:00 in the morning or on Christmas Eve. But, when you work with a property management company, you know you’re getting a team of vendors who are committed to their best clients. Your property will be first in line, and someone will be at the property when the sun comes up. This is more than peace of mind; it’s also a higher standard of workmanship and better pricing. Your relationship with a property manager will make handling emergency maintenance issues much easier.
More importantly, you want to make sure you are protecting your residents. Obviously, an emergency response is important to the protection of your investment’s condition. But, taking care of your resident’s safety and security is your primary responsibility. You don’t want to leave your residents in an unsafe or uninhabitable situation.
Legal trouble can find you down the road if you don’t respond right away to residents who don’t have water or heat. Educate yourself and your residents on what emergencies really are, but never put them in danger. You don’t need the lawsuits or the claims. Even if you cannot respond to the problem right away, you can do whatever is possible to prevent the problem from getting worse.
At Mynd Property Management, we have a structured response to any emergency maintenance situation. We work with some of the best vendors and contractors in Portland, and we work closely with our residents to make sure we are all working together to take care of the property. You won’t have to worry about getting a phone call in the middle of the night or trying to find a vendor at the last minute who is willing to help you. Contact us at Mynd Property Management for more information.
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.