It is bound to happen: a maintenance request. If you don’t already, a maintenance system should be at the top of your list of things to accomplish as a property manager. Having something in place before disaster hits will make all the difference.

What your maintenance system should have

There are several facets to managing a rental property and maintenance is just one of them. Is there an online portal where they can submit non-emergency maintenance requests? Is there an after-hours emergency contact line they can call in time of crisis? Let’s discuss the necessities.

One, two, three, four

  1. A place for your tenants to send their requests. If you’re a first-time-landlord, try setting up an email account specifically for tenants to email in their maintenance requests. “We use an online portal,” Taylor McDonald, Maintenance Coordinator at RPM Iowa said. “It’s a place where tenants can put requests in, and it has internal tools that gives us easier access to our vendors and communicate with our owners.”
  2. Set up an emergency phone line. This should be separate from a regular phone line so your tenants know that it’s for crises only. “Our emergency number connects to a couple of team members’ phones so on the weekends, there’s always someone there to answer.” Make it known that the number is for after-hours only to differentiate from your regular line of communication.
  3. Have a list of trusted vendors in the queue. There will be issues that you won’t be able to solve on your own. Your maintenance system should include a list of vendors that you know and trust.
  4. Stay organized for when the invoices roll in. Paying your vendors is part of maintaining a good relationship. You may find that some vendors send an invoice day of, and some may send them 72 hours after the problem has been resolved. Remain organized so your vendors are always being paid on time.

Relationships matter

“Each of the vendors on our list we’ve built a steady relationship with,” McDonald said. A relationship with credible and reputable vendors is a prerequisite for your maintenance system. If you have that list in place, you’ll know who to call when certain issues arise instead of fumbling around on the internet for a quick fix.

“It’s more than just sending vendors work,” McDonald explained. “We’ve built up years’ worth of good working relationships with our vendors.”

If you can speak their language, even better. That way you can correctly communicate the complication to the appropriate vendor. And maybe in the future, learn that the solution is something you can fix on your own.

Follow through

Each step is crucial in your maintenance system. Follow through with your tenants to ensure that the problem was fixed. This can be done via phone call or email. “You want to be sure that everything is working properly again. We follow through with all of our tenants’ maintenance requests after a vendor has deemed it complete. You can never be too sure.” McDonald said.

Sometimes, you may find that the resolved issue has caused another. Or the tenant may have something else they need done. Either way, it’s best to follow up with all parties involved.

Extra, extra, read all about it – maintenance systems should include property upgrades, too

In between tenants, you may want to make upgrades so you can increase the value of your property. Having someone on deck for a total flooring revamp, new paint, or kitchen countertop replacement will save you plenty of time and money. You’ll want to get upgrades done as soon as you can so your property doesn’t sit vacant for a long period of time.

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