The way in which you respond to maintenance issues will have an impact on tenant retention. One of the reasons tenants cite for leaving their rental homes is a lack of attention to repairs.
Don’t lose a good tenant because you were slow to respond to a maintenance request. The best practices start with responsiveness.
One of the benefits of working with a professional property management company is that you know maintenance will be handled expertly. But, if you’re an independent landlord maintaining your own home, you still need a process in place. It’s important that your tenants know how to reach you when something breaks or needs attention.
Document All Repair Requests
Most property management companies have an online portal that allows tenants to request repairs online. We find it’s more convenient for them and it’s also better for us. We recommend that you establish something similar so that all maintenance requests are submitted in writing.
When you have the requests in writing, you can verify what was needed and what was done, creating a written maintenance record for your home. This is beneficial if you’re making an insurance claim or defending yourself against a security deposit dispute from your tenants. Have your tenants email or text the repair issue with as many details as possible. Pictures may help, too.
Choosing the Best Vendors
You’ll need a list of preferred vendors who know your property and can respond quickly with good work and affordable rates. Always hire licensed and insured workers who can provide a copy of their worker’s compensation insurance. Don’t try to save money by hiring workers who aren’t licensed. If they fall off a ladder or injure themselves at your property, you will have a lot of liability on your plate.
Screen your vendors and make sure you can trust them to be in your property and work with your tenants. Developing great vendor relationships is critical. You don’t want to find yourself looking for a plumber for the first time when your tenant reports a water heater leak in the middle of the night.
Prepare for Emergency Maintenance
Routine maintenance can take a little bit of time, but emergencies are urgent and need an immediate response. Your residents will need all of your contact information, and you need to be available. You should have an emergency maintenance plan in place as well as a budget. Think about what you’ll do if the home is not habitable and you need to relocate your tenants until repairs can be completed.
It’s also important to make sure you and your tenants are on the same page in terms of what qualifies as an emergency repair. You don’t want your residents to feel like it’s reasonable to call you in the middle of the night because the garbage disposal isn’t working. However, a water heater that causes a flood or a tree that’s fallen through the roof are excellent reasons to call you late at night.
Follow up When Work is Complete
Check in with your tenants once the work has been completed. You want to make sure that the requested repairs were done and that they had a positive experience with the vendor or contractor who came to the property.
These are some of the suggestions we have for maintenance requests. If you’d like some help putting together a plan, contact our property management team.
Harcourts Avanti is a full-service property management company that manages long term as well as vacation rentals in Del Mar, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Cardiff, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach, and the surrounding San Diego areas.