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How To Handle Tenants Emergencies


Here’s how to handle tenants emergencies.

Besides collecting rents, landlords must maintain the units and properties in good repair. Maintenance issues often arise between tenants and their landlords. However, in the minds of your tenants’ they become emergencies.

Read how to avoid tenants’ emergencies. To enjoy a continuous passive rental income stream, follow these tips:


1. Lockouts


Tenants often forget their keys when they leave ending up locked out. Renters call their landlords to gain access.

Tenants living in large apartment complexes with onsite staff who possess keys for every apartment solves this problem.  However, independent landlords do not have this luxury.


  • Give your tenants a spare key that they leave with a trusted neighbor, or hide under a realistic-looking waterproof plastic rock in the garden.
  • Attach a sturdy lockbox on the premises with the extra key only you and your tenants know the combination.
  • Worried about too many keys and copies floating around? Buy “Do Not Duplicate” stamped copies so locksmiths won’t duplicate.
  • Make sure the tenant returns all keys when vacating.


2. Clogged Drains


Clogged drains the most frequent “emergency” nuisance that landlords deal with. Toilets, bathtubs, and sinks used many times per day eventually get clogged. Most tenants don’t perform any drain care.


  • Install a drain screen and teach tenants about drain care. This includes telling them not to pour grease, oil, or chemicals down the drains.
  • Once a month tenants should pour boiling water down every drain and clean the drain screen regularly.
  • Make sure your lease agreement specifies the maximum times per year you fix this problem at your expense.
  • Also, leave them a toilet and a smaller sink plunger when the tubs and sinks start to drain slowly.




Heating and cooling systems so vital to every home become an emergency when malfunctioning.


  • Heating and air conditioning systems need preventive maintenance.
  • Calibrate the thermostats annually.
  • Replace furnace filters every three months.
  • Springtime cleaning air conditioner’s evaporator and clearing all plants around the condenser.
  • Annually, test the cooling and heating systems.
  • Every late summer or early fall turn on the furnace.
  • Every March, give each AC a test run. If repairs, needed these times of the year offer the fastest response times and cheapest rates from service technicians.


4. Pest Infestation


Ants, bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, and spiders infiltrate most homes. Even worst, rats and mice enter basements and vents and quickly multiply. Squirrels and other critters enter through the chimney. Thus, it becomes difficult to keep a rental property free from infestations.


  • Annually inspect the building exterior to see signs of ants, bees, mice, rats, and spiders. Seal all entry points.
  • Chimneys require proper capping.
  • Give information sheets to your tenants explaining how to prevent and get rid of bedbugs and fleas.
  • Your lease must explain the proper methods for trash removal. Also, include who pays for an exterminator if the need arises.


How to Handle Tenant Emergencies


Even after using the above-mentioned preventive solutions, other emergencies occur.

Some emergencies in the eyes of your tenants may involve simple solutions. You must determine the severity of the maintenance issue.

Create a list of common problems and place an urgency level for them. Low, Moderate, or High:


High Urgency – Looking at and fixing the emergency within the same day. These include:

  • Lack of Water;
  • Lack of Hot Water;
  • Structural Issues;
  • The Smell of Gas;
  • Lack of Heat in winter;
  • Leaks in the property;
  • Lights not Working in hallways and common areas;
  • Snowstorm requiring Shoveling driveways, walkways, and stairs;
  • Safety Issues like windows and doors not locking properly.


Moderate Urgency – Fixing emergencies within 48 hours like:

  • Air Conditioning not working during summer;
  • Appliances Not Working (if your responsibility);
  • Interior Light Fixtures not working (not just a burned bulb);
  • Clogged or Slow sink drain or shower; and
  • Large Hole in a wall.


Low Urgency – Taking up to one week to fix like:

  • Running Toilet;
  • Damaged Flooring not creating a walking hazard;
  • Grout coming up;
  • Cracked tile;
  • Faucet with small leak or drip;
  • A Draft from outside;
  • Cabinet Doors off their hinges;
  • Molding or Trim repair; and
  • Interior Doors off their hinges or not closing.


Repairs Not Your Responsibility

Depending upon local laws and the terms in your lease agreement, normally the following issues become the tenant’s responsibility and not yours:

  • Removing Junk and Garbage from tenant’s unit;
  • Replacing Smoke Detector batteries; and
  • Damage Caused by the Tenant or Guests. Deduct from the deposit after the tenant vacates. Or, repair at tenant’s request but charge reasonable fees for labor and materials.


Your Repair Skills Level


Tenants expect landlords to be masters of all trades.

You must determine your skills to complete repairs. Or, do you need to hire a professional?

If you think you possess the skills to do repairs, you must first gather the necessary materials.

Then, you notify the tenant (if the repair requires entrance inside the unit) to inquire about the best time to arrive. Ask if the tenant requires his/her attendance when you do the repairs. Or, allows you to enter the unit without the tenant’s presence.

If the repair requires temporarily shutting off the water, electricity, or gas for one or more other tenants, you must give prior notice of this event.

Once repairs completed, get the tenant to sign off on them to his or her satisfaction. Make sure to include the type of work performed and materials needed along with the date and time.

If you hire an outside professional make sure the repair person prepares a statement of the work performed, the time it took and needed parts. The repair person must sign and date the statement. Also, get the tenant to sign it too.


Outsource Your Tenant Maintenance and Repair Problems


The answers about how to handle tenants’ emergency issues recommended above requires lots of your time.

Instead, use a property management company to do all the work for you. Rely on their expertise and experience to hire reliable professionals to maintain and make repairs. That only leaves receiving regular maintenance and repair reports from your property manager.

We Lease San Diego provides you with professional property management services to Save You Time and Money.

Contact Us to handle all your maintenance and repair issues with your tenants along with any emergencies.


Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger



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