When you own a rental property, you are going to have to handle small maintenance issues and emergency maintenance issues.  Knowing how your going to handle each maintenance issue will go a long way in making your life easier and keeping your awesome tenants happy. Happy tenants make your life easier and your investment more profitable.

Here are nine steps to help you handle the inevitable tenant maintenance issue.

#1 Develop a Preferred Vendor List.

Its very important to create preferred vendor list before you actually get that late night plumbing call.  If you wait to call a plumbing until you need one, your going to pay a lot more money than if you take a couple hours and call around and get the best prices.  Ask their hourly rate, after hours rate, trip fee, material mark up, and emergency fee.  Once the list is complete, keep this list somewhere that is easily available for your next maintenance call.

#2 Develop a Plan of Action for Each New Request.

When you get a call what will you do?  Are you going to go to the property for every call?  Are you going to send a vendor for every issues?  Come up with a plan that woks for you.  Maybe you work a full time job and can’t answer your phone during the day.

Developed a plan on how you want your tenants to notify you of all maintenance issues.  If you want a phone call, email or maybe a 3rd party that takes all of these calls.  Maybe for non emergency items the tenant should email you what the issue is. If its an emergency have them tie you a call.

#3 Educate Your Tenants on What is Emergency and What is Non-Emergency.

Give your tenants a list of what you consider an emergency.  Active Water, Heat, A/C, Electrical, roof leaks, safety issues etc.  Example of non-emergent items: Toilet makes loud noise, disposal not working, cracked tile, small hole in wall, pest control, etc.  Its easier to make a list of Emergency items and then have the tenant email you any other items.  Just make sure you stay connected to your email, so these non-emergency items don’t turn into bigger problems.

Small non-emergecny items usually are the items that frustrate tenants.  The emergency items get taken care of because they are easy to see and if not taken care of cause more damage.  Keep up on the small items.  These are the things the tenant will remember when it’s time to renew their lease.

#4 Receive the Tenant’s Maintenance Request

If you have not outsourced maintenance issues to a property manager, then the next step is to receive the tenant’s request based on your how you have educated the tenant to notify you.  Once you receive these notices, you will want to contact the tenant to get more details.

#5 Contact the Tenant and Get More Details of Issue.

Ask the tenant what they are seeing.  For example if they don’t have power in 1 room or part of the house.  Have them look at the breaker box and see if a break is tripped.  Lots of time these non-emergency items can be taken care of over the phone and you don’t even have to go to the property.    Just a thought, when a tenant calls you about maintenance, its a great opportunity to go to the property and see the condition.  Do they have extra pets, are there signs of extra people.  Use this opportunity to see how they are taking care of your investment.

If you determine that you need to send a contractor or you need to visit the property to fix the item, give the tenants a day and time that you will be stopping by to assess the problem.  Give the tenants a 4 hour window for your arrival. This gives you flexabilty in your schedule.

If is it an emergency item.  Determine which type of contractor is needed: Plumber, Electrician, HVAC mechanic, General Contractor, Handyman, or maybe your able to repair some of these items your self. If you need a vendor, check your list of preferred vendors that you know and trust and get the one that is available today.

#6 Schedule the Vendor or Go Yourself.

If you have contacted a vendor, you will want to explain to them the situation, confirm their pricing model and give them the tenants contact info.  Make sure they understand that they are meeting with a tenant and they are only to repair the items that you have agreed on.  Sometimes un-educated vendors will do other repairs that a tenant request.  Guess what, you will be stuck with that bill.   If this is the first time you are using this vendor, you should attend the appointment, so you can over see the repairs and get to know the vendor.

If you are assessing the situation or trying to repair the issue yourself, make sure you have the correct tools and knowledge to repair these items.  It might save you money if you do it yourself, but the liability might not be worth it.

#7 Complete the Repair

When you arrive the property make sure you arrive during the agreed time.  Last thing you want to do is to surprise your tenant by showing up early.  Knock on the door and if nobody answers, use your set of keys to unlock the door.  Knock again before you enter and announce yourself as loud as possible. Again we want to make sure the tenants know we are in their home and who we are.  If we enter a home and the tenant is not present, we always place a door hanger on the front door that states we are inside working on the “sink”.  This notifies the tenant that someone is in their home and not to be alarmed when they see someone working on their sink.

As you enter the home announce yourself and also take the opportunity to look around.  Do NOT walk around the entire home, just glance around while you are going to the area that needs repair. Take note of signs of pets or other issues that might concern you.

When you get to the sink, assess the situation and then get to work.

#8 Verify the Work is Done and the Tenant is Happy.

If you hired a vendor: Make sure the vendor provides a detailed invoice of the work complete, the time it took to complete and parts needed to fix the problem. Make sure the vendor signs and date this statement. The tenant should also sign this statement, verifying that the work was done and that it was done in the amount of time stated on the invoice.

If you completed the work yourself: Have the tenant who started the maintenance request sign off the repair was done and was done to their satisfaction. Make sure they also include the date and time.

#9 Follow up with Tenant and Verify the Everything is Still Working Properly.

A few days after the work was complete, reach out to the tenants and verify the everything is still working properly.  This is the last step that will help you close out the request, and also shows the tenant that you care.

Remember a HAPPY tenant makes your LIFE easier.

Let me know what you think.  Did we miss anything that you try to do when you have a maintenance request?  Share your thoughts.

Thanks for reading!