How to Handle Emergency Repairs During the Holidays
Maintenance emergency repairs can be tricky and disruptive over the holidays. Tenants often have an increased desire to get any issues quickly addressed, yet, at the same time, it’s difficult for Landlords to schedule and complete maintenance.
The best way to address this tension is to be proactive and create systems for handling any emergency repairs that arise over the holidays. Here are a few things to consider as you do this.
Establish Clear Expectations of What Constitutes an Emergency
Tenants about to host a holiday event often have different expectations about what constitutes an emergency repair than Landlords do. To avoid miscommunication, confusion, or conflict, Landlords need to have clear expectations about what constitutes an emergency repair needing after-hours or holiday attention.
The truth is, clear guidelines about emergency repairs are something that Landlords should have in place from day 1. However, this is particularly important over the holidays. If you don’t already have such guidance, now is an excellent time to create it.
Emergency repairs are those that threaten a Tenant’s health or safety or that have the potential to cause substantial property damage. To help you generate a list of emergency repairs, here are some everyday things that Landlords include in this category:
- A broken or frozen pipe
- Sewage backups
- Certain electrical issues
- Water leaks
- Carbon monoxide leaks
- Broken or leaking gas lines
- A broken furnace if temperatures are below 50 degrees
- Broken AC if temperatures are above 90 degrees
- A broken door or lock that can’t be secured
Landlords should create an Emergency Repairs Addendum for Tenants that provides clear guidance about what constitutes an emergency repair needing after-hours or holiday attention. This will reduce the number of holiday maintenance calls that Landlords receive and avoid putting Landlords in a problematic situation of a Tenant asking for immediate help with a non-emergent issue. It’s always difficult to say no to such a request, but having guidance and establishing clear expectations makes it less likely that the situation will arise and easier to address when it does.
Be Proactive About Avoiding Emergency Repairs
Another way that you can reduce the number of emergency calls you get this holiday season is by staying on top of preventative maintenance and actively working to avoid emergencies. In winter, there are more emergency calls due to frozen pipes and increased appliance usage. While you can’t prevent all emergencies, you can reduce the likelihood of them. Here are tips for doing this:
- Have the furnace professionally serviced at the start of the winter season
- Regularly replace the furnace filter or remind Tenants to do so
- Ask Tenants to clean the oven before cooking a holiday meal
- Remind Tenants about the proper use of the garbage disposal and ask them not to put grease, coffee grounds, eggshells, bones, or potato skins in the disposal
- Annually check for any signs of small water leaks and immediately address them
- Remove dead or dying limbs from trees and yard
Have a System for Taking Emergency Calls
Even if you reduce the risk of emergencies, you still need a straightforward process for handling emergency calls, especially over the holidays. However unlikely it might be that you get a call at midnight on New Year’s Eve, you always need someone available to take the call if it’s a true emergency.
Whether it’s you or someone else, Tenants should know who to contact over the holidays for repairs. This person should be familiar with emergency procedures, determine which calls need urgent attention, and know who to call to address any issue that arises.
Know the Emergency Services You’ll Use
A key to dealing with emergency repairs over the holidays is knowing who to call should an issue arise. If you don’t have an on-call crew associated with your property, you’ll need to know who you can call. Most plumbers and many HVAC companies offer 24/7 emergency services. Check with the companies you use, confirm that they can handle emergency calls, and make sure that you know the process for making such a call.
Communicate with Tenants
Once an emergency arises, it’s essential to communicate regularly with the Tenant. For example, if you’re coordinating a plumber, follow up and let the Tenant know the estimated time of arrival and what response they can expect. Additionally, provide Tenants with instructions on things they should do until assistance arrives.
Regular communication during an emergency ensures that Tenants are informed, lets them know that you’re taking the situation seriously, and helps keep the Tenants and property safe.
Spending some time thinking through systems and procedures for handling emergency repairs over the holidays can help avoid disruptions and make it easier to handle any problems that arise. Visit ezLandlordForms.com to create an Emergency Repairs Addendum or learn more about Preventative Maintenance.