Property Management: Dealing with after hours emergencies
So as we’re all probably aware, property management can be a challenge.
Even if you genuinely love your property, your tenants, and all the fun that comes with being a property manager, we bet there will still be days when things just go wrong. Dealing with after hour emergencies can be a right pain, but that’s not to say that it’s unmanageable, or that it has to be an experience like pulling teeth.
Luckily, we have a few simple tips for keeping after hour emergencies as pain-free as possible – while, you know, keeping in mind that you’re still dealing with an after-hours emergency.
These tips largely fall into one of two categories; when you don’t need to be directly involved, and when you do.
Let’s start with the first one; tips on how to deal with an emergency when you don’t have to directly be there.
Are your tenants prepared for the more predictable types of emergencies that aren’t uncommon around the place?
Things like gas leaks, power outages, and broken pipes aren’t exactly nice things to deal with, but they’re the sort of emergencies that you can have a fairly easy plan to deal with.
Ensure your tenants have the relevant phone numbers for the appropriate authorities, such as the local police, waste treatment personnel or plumbers, and their electricity or gas provider (taped to the fridge is an excellent place for this handy list of numbers).
Also show your renters how to operate the fuse box and cut off the main water, just in case. This will have your tenants prepped for the more usual types of after-hours emergencies, and hopefully your involvement will be kept hassle-free!
Sure, you may not actually have to be there, but it’s important for you to be contactable in the event of an emergency, even if it is occurring after-hours.
Firstly, it’s good for you to be kept in the loop. It’s your property after all, and you should be keeping abreast of anything out of the ordinary that’s going on there. And secondly, it’s essential for your tenants to have a line to reach you so that they know the appropriate way to deal with the situation that’s come up.
We’re not trying to say that you should be sleeping with your phone under your pillow in case someone calls, but try to keep it close by in the event of an emergency.
Keep Communication Open and Honest
So an emergency situation at your property has come up, and your tenants have contacted the relevant authorities, (plus yourself) and all is on its way to being solved.
You need to just wait and sit tight, but you also need to communicate clearly with your tenants about when help services are likely to arrive, how payment of the service is going to be handled (will the tenants pay the plumber first for the broken pipes and you will reimburse them, or have you already made arrangements with the plumbers?), and so on.
Ensure that you’re being open and honest with all involved, and avoid any messy or awkward aftermaths to the emergency.
So we’ve covered the basics of how to handle an after-hours emergency when you don’t need to be directly present, now what about the ones where you are actually required to be around. Let’s take a look.
Know Your Responsibilities To The Tenant
As you’re no doubt already aware, you can’t just enter a rental property at any time you like. Often, you’re required to give notice in writing, but sometimes (depending on your relationship with the tenant and the type of rental you’re managing), a more informal verbal notice will do. Either way, the tenants must be aware that you’re intending to enter the property, even when you’re dealing with an emergency.
Secondly, as the landlord/renter/property manager, you’re responsible for all emergency repairs and damages.
But, this only qualifies for damages which threaten the health and/or safety of your tenant or when the building or property is at risk. The contents of the property or non-essential repairs (such as a renovation or upgrade to included appliances like washing machines or dishwashers) are not included in this assessment.
So if your property has been broken into, you’re responsible for the repairs of damaged doors or broken windows but not for the missing TV or the torn-up sofa.
Get To Know The Lay Of The Land
So you’ve received the call, verified that it’s a real emergency (a dripping tap or the like are not emergencies) and sprung into action like the incredible super-property manager you are.
You’ve rocked up to a fire or police department surrounding the building… and then what? It’s easy to feel a little useless, but remember, this is your property.
Find an authoritative figure who doesn’t look too busy (maybe you’ll have to wait a minute) and ask some questions. Get to know exactly what’s going on (remember, your tenants might not even know at this point) and start formulating your plan of action for when the smoke clears (hopefully figuratively!).
Will your tenants need emergency accommodation? Will you be personally liable for the emergency in the first place? And again, keep communication open and honest with your renters for confusion-free proceedings.
We get it, you don’t want to be called up in the middle of the night by a tenant and hauled out to your property to deal with a late-night or early-morning emergency.
But think about it; neither do your tenants. Whatever’s going on, everyone’s not going to be enjoying it. Go easy.
Hopefully now we’ve given you a bit of an idea about how to deal with those pesky after-hours emergencies and keep everyone on side. Best of luck with any future complications!