What Counts as a Rental Home Maintenance Emergency?

2020-11-09 hometeam 1

Tenants are often shy about calling for repairs from their landlords or property managers. Many people prefer to perform small fixes and touch-ups on their own, or worry they'll get in trouble for calling at all. The truth is that homeowners and property managers want you to call in emergency repairs. Your family (and the entire house) can be at risk of emergency repairs aren't treated with their due level of urgency.

So, how do you know whether a repair counts as an emergency? Where is the line between tenant duty and landlord duty? If you're wondering if the situation is an emergency, it probably is and your landlord will want a hand in solving it quickly.

For clarity, here's a quick guide on all the top emergencies that you should definitely call-in for rescue or backup from the property management team.

Sparks, Fire, and Burning Smells

Sparky electronics and fire go hand-in-hand. Keep an eye out for both and respond quickly to any signs of charring or shorted wires.

- Sparking or Smoking Electronics

Active sparks and smoking electrical components are a bad sign. This means too much or poorly routed electricity is at play, ungrounded, and dangerous. You will need to bring a professional electrician in pronto to ensure no fires actually start. If you see a smoking outlet or appliance, turn off the breaker and call for repairs immediately.

- Visual Charring

Visual charring on an appliance or outlet means that burning has already occurred and the unit may be dangerous to use. Turn off the breaker and call for electrical repairs before using the charred item again.

- Fire or Smoke Present

Any sign of flame or smoke should result in an immediate emergency report. This may require rescue actions or just a next-day inspection.

- Elusive Burning Smell

If you smell burning but can't find the source, call for repairs. This is a sign that some hidden electrical component or appliance belt is starting to burn out or has already burnt out. The sooner this damage is found, the less danger you and the house will be in.

Water Anywhere it Shouldn't Be

Water is bad for houses. If you see water anywhere other than faucets, sinks, and the appropriate appliances, call for emergency repairs. Even if your family is safe, the long-term damage water can do to a house is disastrous. Property owners and managers will want to know about water leaks ASAP so they can make repairs quickly and cost-effectively.

- Pooling on the Floor

Look for places where water is pooling. Wet floors usually indicate a leak. The floor, baseboards, and source of the leak will all need to be repaired.

- Walls and Ceilings

Water in the walls and ceiling mean either a burst pipe or a leaking roof. Both are repair emergencies for any home.

- Plumbing Leaks

Serious leaks around plumbing can cause household damage and should be reported quickly.

Harmful Hazards

Anything that could hurt a resident should be considered an emergency repair. Sharp surfaces, jagged steps, or dangerous holes are all good examples of harmful hazards that need to be addressed immediately.

- Broken Steps and Railing

Any danger involving stairs, decks, and balconies should be considered urgent. A broken step or a broken railing are both very dangerous.

- Gaping Holes

Holes that someone could seriously trip in or fall into are equally risky. Notify your landlord and request repairs immediately.

- Sharp Protrusions

Anything sharp enough to cut or impale someone should be removed. Rusty plumbing, broken handles, and protruding metal brackets all fall into this category and should be reported immediately.

- Toxic Exposure

If you suspect mold, sewage, or chemical exposure, get out of the house and call your property manager without delay.

- Heat or Cold

Anything that creates extreme heat or extreme cold should be considered a hazard and repaired as an emergency request.

Basic Needs Interrupted

Finally, your landlord is legally obligated to ensure your basic needs remain met by the standards of your lease agreement. All the essentials and your ability to use included appliances are considered urgent to full-blown emergency to enact repairs.

- Power, Water, and Heat

If your electricity, water, heating, or hot water ever stop, you have the right to declare a state of repair emergency. 

- Essential Appliances

If your HVAC, water heater, or stove and oven, or washer/dryer stop working, these can be considered repair emergencies to maintain your quality of life in the home.

- Property Access

Finally,  if something is stopping you from using your driveway, sidewalk,  accessing your doors, or using your yard, this should be resolved as quickly as possible.


Are you experiencing a maintenance emergency? Are you reading up to be ready in a worst-case-scenario future? We understand. Contact us today to quickly resolve your current emergency or to ask questions about how to handle any emergencies you'd like to plan for.




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