Maintenance Request Response Plans Save $$
MULTIfamily property owners know that tenant maintenance requests are inevitable. If you’re in this business or thinking about getting into it, read on to learn how you can reduce the hassle and expense of handling maintenance requests from tenants by creating a maintenance request response plan.
What’s a maintenance request response plan?
The last thing that you or your tenants want is for you to fly by the seat of your pants when you’re contacted about a maintenance issue.
Smart property owners anticipate these situations and have a plan for dealing with them.
What are the parts of a maintenance request response plan?
A good response plan has five components:
- Reaching out
Let’s learn more about each part of a plan.
It’s easier to remedy tenant issues if you ask the right questions.
For instance: Sometimes you can fix a problem with the heating or air conditioning by changing batteries in the thermostat. Or a “broken” light fixture just needs a new bulb.
Other requests are more serious and complicated.
You can’t determine the scope of the issue unless you’re prepared to ask the right questions.
Prepare a list of likely trouble spots – plumbing, electrical, heating/cooling, appliances, etc. For each potential issue, make a list of questions that will enable you and your tenant to zero in on the root cause of the problem.
You’ll often be able to assess the scope of the issue by walking through your troubleshooting list, or to discover a simple remedy that doesn’t require a visit or hiring someone to fix the problem.
Your response to a problem should be proportionate to the scope of the issue. You don’t want to spend time and money needlessly. And you don’t want to inconvenience your tenant by scheduling an unnecessary contractor visit.
Asking the right questions will help you classify the maintenance issue as:
- An emergency that requires an immediate response.
- A legitimate issue that you can deal with in a reasonable period, after you’ve shopped for and scheduled yourself or a contractor to make the necessary repair.
- An issue for which you and the tenant can enact a work-around (like a new light bulb or new batteries).
Here’s where your plan shines. A good plan points you toward a list of dependable, trustworthy, and qualified vendors who can spring into action to fix your tenant’s maintenance issue on a timely basis.
Local laws will often dictate your allowable response time, depending on the nature of the issue. MULTIfamily property owners must comply with these laws whether they’re handling the repairs themselves or hiring a contractor.
Scheduling often involves the tenant, who may have to be present when the work is done. This can complicate scheduling.
If you do the work yourself, you know that it was done.
If you hire someone, you must receive confirmation that the entire job was done properly, on time, and to your tenant’s satisfaction. A contractor’s invoice should inform you about the details of the job in addition to the cost.
You want to maintain good relations with your tenants, so it’s important to follow up with them after you have remedied a problem. Remind them about the problem and remedy, thank them for their participation, and ask them to verify that they are satisfied.
This is a simple, courteous step that property owners often overlook.
What are the most common tenant maintenance requests?
MULTIfamily property owners report that these are the most common maintenance requests:
- Water leaks
- Clogged drains or disposals
- Appliance breakdowns
- HVAC not working
- Lights that don’t work
- Pests, like rodents or roaches
Many of these require immediate attention. Water can cause extensive damage and require expensive repairs or mold remediation. Pest infestations can cause a health problem and spread to other units.
What are the challenges to creating a response plan?
MULTIfamily property owners can usually put a plan to paper. Execution is more complicated.
Here are four barriers to implementing an effective plan:
- Organization – You need organizational skills to work out every detail of your response plan. This includes familiarity with the mechanical systems in your property, which gives you the ability to list the appropriate troubleshooting questions, qualify the scope of the issues, and make an appropriate response.
- Workforce – Maintenance issues don’t respect the clock or the calendar. You must respond 24/7. This involves being available, talking through troubleshooting and qualifying, and sometimes coordinating your schedule, the tenant’s schedule, and a contractor’s schedule.
- Skills & Equipment – If you’re a do-it-yourself property owner, you must possess the skills and have the tools and equipment to address electrical, plumbing, appliance, and pest issues. That’s a tall order.
- Outside Resources – When you must call in a contractor, you need a list of people or companies that will respond immediately. And you need back-ups in case your first point of reference isn’t available. This involves vetting and updating lists of contractors who are licensed, insured, and dependable.
Where to get help with a maintenance request response plan?
Responding to tenant maintenance requests can be time-consuming and harrowing when you try to manage them on your own. MULTIfamily property owners have discovered that it’s affordable and practical to hire a property manager.
What are the advantages of hiring a property manager?
You can make managing your investment in MULTIfamily property a more rewarding and more pleasant experience by hiring a property management company. Here are four reasons why:
- Hiring a property manager is affordable and the expense is tax deductible. A quality property management company typically charges a small percentage of your rental income.
- Hiring a property management company delivers instant returns. You free yourself from virtually all day-to-day hassles related to property ownership, to enjoy truly passive income while knowing that your property is maintained and growing in value. No more 3 a.m. calls about a clogged toilet.
- Property management companies already have a detailed plan in place for dealing with tenant maintenance requests. They have people with the knowledge, skills and a complete network or outside resources to cover any eventuality. And they are available 24/7.
- They offer complete transparency. You’re always in the loop regarding happenings at your property and any expenses that you incur.
MULTIfamily property ownership can be a fantastic investment that increases your income and builds generational wealth.
Whether you own two or two hundred rental units, you must have a plan for responding to inevitable maintenance requests from your tenants.
It’s practical and affordable to outsource these responsibilities to a professional property manager.
Looking for MULTIfamily investment opportunities? If you’re a first-time investor or already an investor looking to expand your portfolio, you’ll find exceptional opportunities on our website.