7 Emergency Property Maintenance Calls that Can't Wait Until Morning


Despite some of the crazy stuff you see in the business, property management is no laughing matter. You, the tenant, and the landlord work as a team sharing responsibilities to keep the property and the tenants safe. When you get an emergency call from a tenant about a maintenance or repair concern, they usually fall into one of three categories.

  • 48 Hours: Reasonable but not urgent concerns. Tenants are usually satisfied if repairs take a little time to complete, especially if it requires some contractor work
  • 24 Hours: Important but not life or property threatening, best to take care of these quickly
  • NOW: The tenant and/or property are actively at risk and immediate action is necessary.

It's especially important to know the difference between these categories when you get an emergency call late at night or when you're busy with something else. The first two categories can wait until morning for you to get out to the property with your toolkit and check it out. The final category usually involves electricity, gas, or gushing water and you might as well get up and splash some cold water on your face because there's no time to waste. Here are 7 examples of absolutely urgent emergency calls you might get as a property manager.

1) Power Outage

As the landlord's maintenance representative, it falls on your shoulders to make sure tenants have their essential utilities and power is vital to modern living. Of course, there's power outages you can help with and those you can't, and it's important to know the difference before you drag yourself out of bed. If the whole block is out, it's out of your hands. Next is the blown breaker, which you can sleepily walk your worried tenant through over the phone. If it's neither of these things, or if the report mentions dangerous indicators like sparks, it's time to grab your keys and toolbox.

2) Drains Backing Up

Any time water is coming up in places or ways it shouldn't, the property should be considered in immediate danger as water damage is one of the most insidious and difficult to fix. If the problem were a slow drip you might reasonably ask the tenant to catch it in a pot and you'll see them in the morning. However, once gray water and sewage start coming up through the drains the property has become unlivable and the tenants must be rescued.

3) Broken Heating in the Winter

Heat falls under special rules of property maintenance if the ambient outdoor temperature is lower than 60 degrees. If the heat goes out on a property you're responsible for, especially in the colder months, the tenants need immediate assistance as this poses a health threat to anyone in less than optimal physical condition.

4) Water Outage

If the water stops flowing to your tenants, this is a major problem and must be addressed quickly. Tenants need water to live, even more than they need power, and it's your job to get it back to them. Unfortunately, water outages don't have nearly as many easy over-the-phone alternatives as power so chances are that water outages will at the very least have you Googling if something's wrong with the local water supply and may result in a temporary hotel room for your tenants.

5) Extreme Leaking

Gushing water, no matter how it happened, where it's coming from, or where it's going must always be addressed with a quickness. While your tenants may be fine (if damp), now your primary concern is the health and well being of the property. Water damage is a major concern and the more you can prevent, the better.

6) Gas Smell

If you're not a fan of fire and explosions on your properties, a call about gas smell should have you jumping out of bed before the next word is spoken. While often it's something like pilot light that has gone out, there are enough emergency scenarios that you want to get yourself and your toolbox over to the property right away just in case it's more along the lines of a gas pipe that has finally rusted all the way through. At the very least, you can shut off the gas at the source to keep everyone safe while you hunt down the problem.

7) Power Surges

Sometimes dangerous power issues are not outages, but the opposite. Melting appliance plugs, large sparks, and other alarming reports involving outlets or light fixtures are cause for immediate alarm. Your first action should be instructing the tenant to steer clear of the outlets and light switches. If the issue sounds really scary, you can walk them through shutting things off at the breaker box while you're on your way over.

When a tenant calls at 2 AM on a week night, it's always tempting to tell them to wait until morning and get the rest of your beauty sleep, but that's not always an option. As a property manager, sometimes you are the only person standing between worried tenants and a devastating house fire. Waking up out of a sound sleep to rescue tenants is the work of heroes.



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