Written by David Lowrey, Owner of Stress Free Property Management
It just seems like good customer service as a Riverview Property Manager or private landlord to give out your phone number to a tenant. After all, if something goes wrong like a pipe bursting, you want to know about it right away, right?
Please keep in mind this article is written for landlords just starting out. I do not condone ignoring tenant repairs or being a slumlord. I recognize that some landlords are like this. I'm trying to give out tips to help quality landlords not burn out and sell their rentals. Enough said, please continue reading. :)
Well the answer to that is yes & no! You or a Riverview Property Management company do need to know about emergency repairs right away. Having a pipe burst in your rental homes is a big deal, obviously. However, there is no reason why you can’t just give out your email address and develop systems for true emergencies.
One of the things that really burns out landlords is providing concierge management services. What do I mean by that? It’s when you give out your personal cell phone number and answer the phone every time your tenant calls. You are unintentionally training the tenant to treat you like a hotel front desk clerk. You are at their beck and call.
The tenants will learn to call you about everything little thing, as soon as it happens, no matter what time of the day or night. If the AC unit breaks at 8:00pm, what can you really do about it? AC companies can’t work at night because of the real threat of electrocution. They need to be able to see clearly because their dealing with 220 wiring. Having a tenant screaming at you, and you agreeing to go out to Home Depot and buy two wall units, and install them yourself is way beyond reasonable customer service.
At the end of the day, shit happens. Your responsibility is to get repairs done in a timely manner. Nowhere in the tenant landlord statutes does it say it must be done instantly or you take verbal abuse from a tenant.
I recommend you give the tenants your email address. 99% of repairs can wait till the morning. For the 1% emergencies, just check your phone before you go to bed and make sure your tenant knows how to turn off the water in case of a major leak. Certainly, there are other emergencies but virtually everything can wait till morning, if the tenant just takes obvious precautions. If the house has a fire, call the fire department. If the roof leaks, put a bucket underneath the leak. If the roof collapses, leave the home and stay with friends. Tenants will figure this out with your assistance by responding to their emails quickly.
You might consider giving your tenants the name of your plumber. Plumbing repairs tend to be the true emergencies most often. I generally have my maintenance man on call to simply go out and turn off the water. It is next to impossible to get plumbing parts in the middle of the night. We show up the next morning and handle the repair.
What I’ve found in over 5000 work orders reported by tenants, is there is nothing that requires you be on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Just make sure those emergency repairs are done in the morning, or at least addressed temporarily until a complete fix can be done in a few days. That being said, most emergency repairs should be done the next day.
I repeat, DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER!!!! Managing your own rental properties is a marathon that does require training and planning, but at no time except at the end of the race are you sprinting. Just make sure you are checking your emails throughout the day and especially a couple of times at night. This way you can respond quickly if a true emergency comes up. You can also provide your tenants an emergency procedure that covers the most common items. You can laminate this and put it near Hot Water Heater or the Air handler. There are lots of different ways to give good service.
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