Top Tips for Handling Emergency Rental Property Maintenance in Phoenix, AZ
A day in the life of a property manager can bring unexpected twists and turns. This is especially true when emergency Rental Property problems pop up, requiring you to think on your feet.
There are several types of emergency situations that you might find with your Rental property. Keep in mind that preventative action and maintenance is always the best way to handle Emergency Rental Property maintenance in Phoenix.
This guide can help you create a maintenance plan and be prepared for potential emergencies.
Defining a Rental Property Emergency
The first step is to determine what you define as an emergency situation with your rental properties. It’s important that tenants have a clear expectation of response time and how you will approach the problem.
What’s Not an Emergency in a Rental Property?
Here are several examples of what may not be considered an emergency, although they are certainly inconvenient to the tenant:
- No hot water: Tenants need hot water to shower and do their laundry. However, this is not a life-threatening situation nor does it risk damaging the property. There is a gray area with this, though. If the tenant goes days (not hours) without hot water, this situation requires swift action.
- Noise complaints: While it’s a nuisance, noisy neighbors aren’t an emergency situation. Address the issue and source of the noise complaints in a timely manner, but it shouldn’t take precedent over more serious emergency situations.
- Clogged toilet: Providing each unit with a plunger and encouraging tenants to fix the problem is a time-saving approach. The tenant can often fix the problem on their own this way. If the toilet is clogged to the point where it’s overflowing or flooding the bathroom, this is another gray area that is considered an emergency.
While the aforementioned issues need attention, there are more serious situations that qualify as an emergency.
Emergency Situations in Rental Properties
With emergency rental property maintenance in Phoenix, these are the situations that are the most serious. They either put the tenant in danger or risk damaging the property in some way.
Along with the common emergency situations, we’ll provide routine maintenance tips to prevent these problems from happening.
Gas Leaks and “Smell of Gas”
Gas leaks are ominous because they can go undetected—at least until the tenant catches the smell of gas. A gas leak can give off the smell of rotten eggs, sulfur, or sewage.
This certainly qualifies as an emergency rental property situation. If a tenant calls you about a potential gas leak, here is what to do:
- Instruct the tenant to leave the premises along with any pets.
- Contact the local gas company if necessary.
- Locate the gas meter and turn off the gas.
- Open the windows to ventilate the rental property.
- Do not turn on any light switches or light a cigarette or candle.
How to Prevent Gas Leaks in Rental Units
Routine maintenance can help avoid gas leak situations. These are a few ways to prevent gas leaks in your rental unit:
- Maintain your HVAC system twice a year, ensuring the fuel line connections are tightened.
- Ensure there is a tight seal on the blower access door.
- Tighten all electrical connections.
- Examine for rusting and corroding wires.
Sometimes electricity can go out when a car hits a telephone pole, or something falls on the line. However, if a single rental property is experiencing an outage while other properties are not, this case should be investigated quickly.
If a tenant calls and reports no electricity in their rental property, here is what you should do:
- Encourage the tenant to contact the power company and report an outage.
- Contact other tenants on the property and determine if they have electricity.
- Inspect if there are any downed lines around the property. Do not touch them! Contact the power company immediately. Notify any tenants of downed lines.
- Check the fuse box or circuit box connected to the unit in question.
- If the breaker is tripped, turn it back on.
How to Prevent Power Outages
Unfortunately, power outages that occur outside the rental property are mostly beyond your control. However, it helps to be aware of how much power the breaker box can handle. Sometimes moving the appliances to a different outlet can help prevent tripping the breaker, assuming it’s connected to another breaker switch.
Flooding inside a rental unit can destroy your property as well as the tenants. This can result from burst pipes, malfunctioning washing machines, and more.
When a tenant calls you because their rental unit is flooding, here is what to do:
- Turn off the water valve of the broken pipe or exterior water line.
- Try to contain leaking and flooding the best you can. For example, a pinhole leak in a pipe can be temporarily remedied with duct tape. Another option is to use a C-clamp, block of wood, and a piece of rubber.
- Contact other residents who may be affected by the flood.
- Contact a professional company to clean the premises if necessary.
The good news is that there are several ways that you can prevent flooding in your rental properties.
How to Prevent Flooding in Rental Properties
These are several common sources of apartment floods or leaks that require routine maintenance.
- Regularly maintain water heaters, searching for leaks that can become bigger issues down the line.
- Quickly take action when you notice clogged sewer or drain lines. Clogging is commonly found in areas such as the shower where hair can get stuck down the drain.
- Encourage tenants to never dump cooking grease down the kitchen sink drain, as this can solidify inside the pipes and cause major problems over time.
- Pay attention to the condition of appliances, especially washing machine hoses. Leaks in the hose can start as a drip and turn into a flood over time.
- Tend to any small leaks in pipes as you become aware of them. The small drips can turn into a flood that destroys the property within minutes.
Perhaps the most serious scenario for emergency rental management in Phoenix is fire. This emergency situation should begin with the tenant calling 911. Have an evacuation plan in place for each tenant, instructing them to safely remove people and pets from the building.
This apartment fire safety guide by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gives specific and helpful instructions on how tenants can safely escape a house fire.
How to Prevent Fires in Rental Properties
Fire prevention and safety is a very serious situation. Tenants practicing safe habits can help decrease the likelihood of a house fire. These habits include:
- Do not leave burning candles unattended.
- Keep bedroom doors closed at night while sleeping, which can buy you extra time to escape if there is a fire.
- Do not smoke inside the unit.
- Do not leave the rental property if you are cooking in an oven or the stovetop.
- Remove lint from the dryer after each cycle.
Providing these instructions in writing and verbally can help tenants work on fire safety habits.
Other precautionary actions for emergency rental property maintenance include:
- Ensure that fire detectors are installed and working at all times.
- Comply with local fire codes and ordinances.
- Place fire extinguishers in the kitchen.
- Encourage tenants to report problems that can lead to a potential fire, such as electrical hazards.
- Document all efforts made on your end for fire prevention. This might be needed for any legal or insurance requirements.
Get Emergency Rental Management in Phoenix, AZ
It’s a tall order to be on-call at all hours of the day. This is especially true when emergencies spring up in the middle of the night and handling emergency maintenance requests.
Brewer & Stratton can take the worry of emergency rental management off your plate.
Interested in having us manage your income property for you?
Contact us now and get started with streamlined property management services.