As a landlord, you have a responsibility to provide a habitable place for your renters to live in. What’s more, depending on where your property is located, habitability standards and responsibilities can differ. Part of habitability consists of ensuring that all repair and maintenance issues are addressed within a reasonable time frame. 

Sometimes, when the issues constitute an emergency, tenants may need to contact the landlords even after business hours. As a landlord, you need to know which issues are considered emergencies and which are not so that you can properly perform your duties. 

In general, any issue that puts the health and safety of the occupants at risk is an emergency. If the issue can also pose possible injuries or serious property damage, then it’s also considered an emergency and must be addressed urgently.

Emergency Maintenance Issues

Here are a few examples of emergency issues that must be dealt with a sense of urgency:

1. No Heat or Hot Water in Winter

When the heat or hot water goes out, particularly during colder months, it can significantly impact your tenants’ health and safety. Some states even have specific laws requiring landlords to provide functioning heating systems. When tenants complain of broken heaters during winter, you have to ensure that it gets resolved as soon as possible.

a silver faucet with running water

2. Plumbing or Sewer Backup

A leak or clogged drain can quickly escalate into a significant problem if not fixed promptly. This issue may cause flooding and damage to the flooring, walls, or electrical equipment in the affected area. In the event of a plumbing emergency, it’s critical to send a plumbing expert to the property to provide a resolution immediately.

3. Electrical Problems

Electrical issues can feel like a ticking time bomb, especially when they involve sparking outlets, flickering lights, or any other sign of electrical malfunction. These issues require urgent attention since they pose a severe fire hazard that could endanger everyone within the premises. 

As a landlord, you need to act immediately when you receive reports about electrical problems and send a skilled electrician to the property to avoid any potential hazards.

4. Gas Leak

Gas leaks pose an enormous threat to everyone on the property as they can lead to explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning. In some cases, it can also cause fire hazards. If tenants smell gas, they need to contact you right away. It’s recommended that tenants should evacuate the premises until experts from the gas company or fire department come and investigate the issue.

5. Lockouts

Lockouts might seem like a minor issue, but they can also be an emergency, especially when they happen at odd hours or put your tenants’ safety at risk. Tenants who got stuck outside of the rental property should contact you to seek help so they can regain entry quickly.

someone passing house keys to someone else

6. Pest Infestations

Pest infestations can cause significant harm to tenants and property if not dealt with swiftly. It’s crucial to address the problem immediately. Make sure to call pest prevention experts to solve the problem and prevent further spread. You should also conduct inspections and routine preventative measures to protect the property.

7. Broken Doors or Windows

Any broken points of entry can be a source for intruders to access the property. The safety of your tenants will be at high risk if broken doors or windows are left unaddressed. When tenants report this kind of issue, you need to address the problem as soon as possible.

Issues That Are Not Considered Emergency

While emergencies require immediate attention, it’s also essential to take care of minor maintenance issues promptly to prevent them from becoming larger problems that could result in costly repairs. These issues, however, can wait to be addressed during standard business hours.

Here are some rental property maintenance issues that are not considered emergencies:

1. Minor Leaks From Faucets or Pipes

Although they can cause inconvenience and wastewater, dripping faucets do not pose any serious safety risks or threaten property damage. They are generally classified as non-emergency issues that can be resolved at a convenient time.

2. Non-functioning Appliances

A broken dishwasher, microwave, or other household appliance may be inconvenient but are not an emergency. Scheduling for repairs can be done within reasonable time frames when resources and parts become available.

person taking dishes out of a dishwasher

3. Clogged Drains

A clogged bathroom or kitchen sink can be unpleasant, but unless there is standing water on the bathroom floor or sewer backup, it’s not considered an emergency. Instead, tenants can use effective DIY methods like plungers or drain cleaners to provide a temporary resolution to the problem. Landlords may then attend to this issue at a convenient time.

4. Minor Roofing or Insulation Problems

Small leaks or cracks in the roof or walls may not pose an immediate danger, but they can cause significant damage over time. It’s best to attend to them within a reasonable time frame because if left unchecked, these can turn into major problems, necessitating extensive repairs or even replacement. 

It’s best to schedule a routine roof check-up before the winter and spring season starts to ensure optimum protection against unforeseen weather changes.

Other Minor Issues

Other minor problems that can be addressed the following business day include:

  • Noise problems
  • Parking disputes
  • Burnt-out light bulbs
  • No heat or hot water during non-winter season

Bottom Line

Landlords need to make themselves available, especially for emergency repair issues, and provide tenants with emergency contact numbers. It’s also best to include a list of emergency issues that can be reported during off-business hours in the rental agreement. 

If you don’t want to handle these issues yourself, it’s best to work with a professional property manager to ensure that all repair requests are addressed in a timely manner. Property management companies like Keyrenter Hampton Roads can rely on your all your rental management needs!