One of the areas where there is often ambiguity and confusion between tenants and landlords is maintenance. Maintenance requests and maintenance responses matter. In fact, 57 percent of tenants cite maintenance as a reason why they don’t renew their leases.
As a landlord, you have to have the proper expectations of what tenants are looking for, and what they think is normal.
Make Repairs Quickly
A tenant is not going to be as handy as you are with your house. They won’t fix things on their own. Certain things that you see as a simple inconvenience – like a burnt out bulb in your closet – are important and urgent matters to your tenants. You might take care of these things cheaply, but tenants will expect a response that’s bigger, better, and quicker. Tenants will also be harder on your property, and have more wear and tear. It doesn’t mean they’re bad tenants, it’s just a fact of life.
Establish a Reporting Procedure
Communicate the proper method of reporting maintenance issues. Make sure your tenants can get a hold of you after hours or on a Saturday morning. If all they have for you is an email address at work, you won’t be able to respond right away.
Maintain Habitability and Security
There’s a Bundle of Rights when you lease a property, including a Warrant of Habitability, which establishes that your tenants aren’t just renting a property, they’re renting a property that’s in good repair. There’s a lot of grey area in terms of what you should consider good repair. But, a real emergency requires a response, such as a burst pipe, a lack of power, or something major in any category. You can get in trouble if you’re not taking care of these things in a timely manner.
Document Everything in Writing
Document everything. You need to note when the request came in, and what steps you took to solve the problem. If something cannot be fixed until the next day, make sure you document what you did. Before you sign your lease, establish a relationship with an all-night handyman, electrician, and plumber. Don’t wait. If you’re on vacation and your tenant calls with an emergency, you don’t want to find yourself looking at Yelp in the middle of the night to fix the problem.