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Rental Property Emergencies

October 17, 2019

How To Prepare for Rental Property Emergencies

Maintenance has always played a key role in daily property management, regardless the size of the property portfolio and the number of tenants being served.

In addition to inspection and routine maintenance, management should develop a procedure to address maintenance emergencies at their properties.

How to Handle a Maintenance Emergency

Maintenance Emergency includes the interruption of utility services, gas leak, flooding, broken building entrance door, and waste line blockages. For instance, a bathroom sink or tub overflows and causes water to leak through the ceiling and all the way down to multiple units below, management staff can stop the source of the leak first by turning off the water valve and use a bucket to catch the dripping water. 

To respond to a maintenance emergency in a timely fashion, each building must have a clear protocol and reporting system in both during normal business hours and after work hours. In the management office, there must be an updated list of building specific maintenance and management staff members including their names and contact numbers.

Approved Vendors/Contractors Ready

Additionally, a list of approved vendors such as restoration company, electrical contractor should be in place. An emergency phone numbers list should be posted at the management office door or community bulletin board in common areas.

The list should include the following information:

  • Director or Regional Manager’s phone number
  • Property Manager’s phone number
  • On-site Manager’s phone number

The other type of maintenance is the unit turnover maintenance which includes cleaning, painting, replacing flooring, and general repairing. It’s essential that management and maintenance staff communicate and develop a plan jointly. For instance, they should decide what tasks should be performed by in-house maintenance while other complicated or specialized tasks may be outsourced to a third-party contractor.

Generally speaking, flooring replacement is performed by a contractor while painting and cleaning are handled by maintenance or janitorial staffs. Additionally, work orders and purchase orders should be issued so that management staff can determine which expenses are to be paid from charges against the former tenant’s security deposit.

The Pre-Move Out Inspection

Schedule a pre-move out inspection about two weeks prior to the tenant’s move out date. Management can use this opportunity to let tenants know what needs to be cleaned and repaired.

During the move-out inspection  (which preferably on the day when the tenants turn their keys to management), it’s essential that management, maintenance, and the tenant are present to assess the condition of each items listed on the Move-Out Inspection Form and determine whether the damages are belonged to normal wear and tear.

For instance, minor damages found on the carpet in an unit occupied by the same tenant for 10 years may consider normal wear and tear.

If damages exceed normal wear and tear, management should inform the tenant that there will be a charge. And they should be told that they’ll receive an itemized disposition of security deposit within 21 days which shows the security deposits amounts deducted and the amount that returned to them.

Unit turnover maintenance tasks are recommended to be performed in this order:

  1. Change unit lock and re-key
  2. Clear all items left in the unit
  3. Clean items in the unit
  4. Perform repairs and/or replacements
  5. Perform painting works
  6. Perform flooring works such as replacement or carpet shampooing

Last but not least, once all the works are completed in unit, management and maintenance staff should conduct an unit inspection before re-renting the unit. 

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