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Tips for Handling Rental Property Emergency Maintenance

emergency maintenance

No property owner likes dealing with emergency maintenance— but it inevitably happens from time to time. Knowing how to manage it is the best step you can take to ensure those stressful 4 AM calls from tenants about their heat not working are handled efficiently.

In this article, we’ll talk about rental property maintenance issues and how a real estate virtual assistant can help you manage stress in your busy job of managing properties.

Why responses to repair and maintenance issues can’t go ignored

As a property owner, you know all too well how important it is to keep your property a safe and habitable place. Because this is your legal responsibility, responding quickly not only helps you avoid potential liabilities but it also lets your tenants know that you take their safety and well-being seriously. Likewise, neglected maintenance requests and high turnover rates have a directly proportional relationship that will negatively affect your return on investment sooner or later. Thus, keeping up with maintenance repairs is arguably the best way to keep your tenants happy.

But, sometimes it’s just not possible to respond promptly to every single tenant request that rolls in. 

You can’t be everywhere all at once

When you became a property owner, you knew you weren’t signing up for a run-of-the-mill 9 to 5 gig. You knew you’d be responsible for taking care of after-hours landlord emergency repairs and overseeing all emergency maintenance issues in general. But, you may not have anticipated just how time-consuming owning property and managing tenants would be.

The reason why managing property takes up so much time is that most property managers are “do-it-yourself” types. Entrepreneurship is common in the real estate industry, as it provides independence and control in a very chaotic job. Thus, we get why you’d want to tackle your real estate endeavors on your own. 

But not everything has to be a DIY project. In fact, having a helping hand to take care of non-core tasks, like managing repair requests, can free up your time to handle top-priority tasks to continue scaling your business. So, leave the stained glass and crocheting to DIY projects and get the help that you deserve to keep your rental properties thriving.

A VA is your best bet to succeed

Property owners today are increasingly becoming aware of the numerous benefits that result from outsourcing property management tasks to a virtual assistant (VA). A VA is an extension of your business that assists with the non-essential tasks that eat up a lot of your time. For example, a virtual assistant can help with the hectic and unprecedented maintenance requests that every property owner must deal with.

We’ll further explore how a VA can help you handle maintenance issues, but first, we need to understand what qualifies as emergency maintenance and what’s simply a nuisance.

What qualifies as an emergency maintenance request?

At the end of the day, landlords and tenants need to use their best judgment to determine if something is a true emergency. But, for the most part, emergency issues threaten a tenant’s safety or cause serious damage to your property. 

So, here’s a rundown of emergencies that call for immediate remedial measures.

Locks that don’t work or any broken doors or windows that mean the property can’t be safely secured.

Detection of carbon monoxide.

No heat in the winter or no air conditioning in periods of extreme heat.

Severe gas leak or a broken gas line.

Flooding.

You might be wondering why “fire” or “break-in” didn’t make the list. While these are both no doubt emergencies, a tenant should call the fire department in the case of a fire and the police in the case of a break-in. Thus these don’t qualify as maintenance or repair emergencies.

What isn’t a true emergency maintenance request?

There will be times when you get a call from a distressed tenant, which can make it seem like the issue is an emergency. But sometimes it may just be an inconvenience to the tenant. Knowing the difference will save you ample time and stress.

Take a look at the below scenarios that are non-emergencies for rental properties.

Appliances stop functioning properly, such as a dishwasher, oven, and a laundry washer or dryer.

Clogged drains or toilets.

Minor leaks.

No hot water for a short period.

Parking disputes.

Heat or AC not working (Here, you’ll need to use your best judgment. If the heat isn’t working when it’s 68 degrees outside, or the AC isn’t working when it’s sunny and 75, it’s probably not a top-priority repair.)

To make life easier for you and your tenants, make sure you communicate your expectations for which repairs will be handled as emergencies and which ones may take a day or two.

Alright, now that we’ve cleared up emergency vs non-emergency property issues, let’s get back to how a virtual assistant can help you with the maintenance and repair part of your job.

How a property management virtual assistant makes your life easier

A VA can save the day when you’re at the end of your rope. Aside from tackling general administration duties like handling tenant inquiries and application processing, your virtual assistant can also aid in managing maintenance issues and scheduling repair appointments.

Although tending to repairs requires an in-person visit, a virtual assistant can still manage and order repairs and take down important information. So, let’s go over what a VA can do to help you in the maintenance department.

Ensure you stay ahead of the game

The key to avoiding emergency maintenance problems is keeping up with regular repairs and routine inspections. This will help you catch small problems before they turn into disasters. 

A VA can set up a maintenance contract with a plumber, an HVAC vendor, and a pest control professional to regularly monitor your property. 

Preventive measures to take

Here are a few preventive measures your VA can schedule to help you avoid getting rental property emergency maintenance calls at 2 in the morning.

  • Replace HVAC filters four times annually.
  • Re-caulk bathtubs and showers to avoid mildew and mold growth.
  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke detections regularly.

Won’t break the bank

Every real estate business needs to leverage phone communications for various purposes. Not only does this include making phone calls for rental property emergency maintenance; it also includes lead generation, marketing, and general customer service. But, keeping your tenants happy isn’t cheap. Hiring a call center agency can be pretty expensive– which is why many successful real estate entrepreneurs consider virtual assistants instead. 

Without the typical overhead costs associated with hiring an employee from a call center, a dedicated virtual assistant helps small business owners save money by cutting staffing costs. Thus, utilizing a VA to handle maintenance and repair calls can help business owners boost efficiency, improve tenant satisfaction, and have an edge against their competitors without putting a dent in their wallet.

Streamline forwarding requests

Your VA can smooth out and expedite the forwarding process by sending tenants’ maintenance requests to the appropriate repair professional. This is an easy task they can do from anywhere at any time.

Ease your tenants’ worries

Owning and managing property demands high-quality customer service, especially with tenants who are having emergency maintenance issues in their homes. A VA can make a huge difference in the quality of your customer care by listening to your tenants’ issues when you don’t have the time to. This, in turn, can ease your tenants’ concerns and help them feel cared for.

Because it can be scary passing the baton to someone else, you can implement an automated survey at the end of phone calls for tenants to take regarding their conversation with your virtual assistant.

A plan for handling after-hours calls

Getting a call from a distressed tenant in the middle of the night is every property owner’s nightmare. But there are steps you can take to lessen the stress. The most important thing to do is make sure your property manager virtual assistant knows the right questions to ask during after-hours calls, so you can get all of the pertinent details about the maintenance issue.

First, it must be determined whether or not the situation is considered emergency maintenance. Use the criteria we mentioned above to ascertain the nature of the issue. If it’s an emergency, you’ll need to figure out if the tenant needs sleeping accommodations for the night. Then, you’ll need to contact the appropriate maintenance professional to remedy the issue. You’ll also want to find out how long the repair will take, who, if anyone, is liable for the damage, and if you have to notify your homeowner’s insurance or your tenant’s renter’s insurance.

A skilled VA to help you tackle emergency maintenance issues

Having support from a real estate virtual assistant is what many DIY property owners need to scale their businesses and keep their tenants happy. 

At Rocket Station, we’ll give you a VA who’s already knowledgeable and experienced in assisting real estate professionals. Chat with us today to find the best virtual assistant for your business.

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