Maintenance is a big part of owning rental property, and you need to be prepared to respond to any repair requests made by tenants. Your response will depend on how serious the problem is. Be prepared with a preferred list of vendors, an open channel of communication with your tenants, and a willingness to follow up once the work is done.
Availability and Responsiveness – Prepare for Emergencies
Unless you have a property manager who will field all the phone calls and maintenance requests from tenants, you need to make sure they have your contact information. If there’s an emergency overnight or on the weekends or even in the middle of the day, your tenants will need to get in touch with you immediately. Emergencies would include running water in the house, a fire, something that damaged the home structurally, such as a tree coming through a window, or any emergency in which a tenant may be in danger. The tenant should be able to call you and reach you if there’s an emergency at your property. If you’re going on vacation or you know you’re going to be unavailable, give your tenants an alternate phone number to use.
Routine Maintenance – Put a Request in Writing
Outside of emergencies, it’s a good idea to have all regular maintenance requests made in writing. This helps you stay organized and also allows you to document when the request was made and how you handled it. You can ask your tenant to send you an email describing the problem and maybe even get them to send a picture. If you don’t want to use email, a text message can also ensure you receive the request right away and have a written trail that documents the need for a repair.
Assemble a List of Preferred Vendors
Trying to find a plumber at 3:00 in the morning on a holiday weekend to fix a major leak or an exploding water heater is not going to work out very well. But, if you have a plumber in place who knows you and knows your property, you’ll be able to get someone to take care of your emergency maintenance right away. Establish relationships with maintenance professionals so they’ll be available when you need them. Screen them thoroughly and make sure they’re licensed, insured, and bonded. You set yourself up for a lot of liability when you use unlicensed vendors.
Invest in Preventative Maintenance
When your tenants make a request for a minor repair, go ahead and make it. There’s no sense in allowing simple problems to become more complex and more expensive. No maintenance issue ever became more manageable with time. Take care of problems right away, and schedule regular service and inspections for your home’s systems and functions. In Florida, we use our air conditioning year-round. So, have an HVAC tech service and clean your unit at least once or twice a year. Have your roof inspected every year before hurricane season starts. Making these minor investments will pay off in the long run when you’re able to avoid catastrophic and surprise expenses.
If you have any questions about how to manage maintenance with your tenants and your rental property, please contact us at Rentals by Mark.