As a landlord in Seattle, you’re going to have to deal with occasional emergencies, even when your property is well maintained and in good condition. Inevitably, there will be a water heater leak, a breakdown in the heating system or a tree that falls onto the roof. It’s important that you respond quickly and properly.
First, make sure you and your tenant agree on what is actually an emergency. Anything that affects the habitability of the property is an emergency and needs to be fixed right away. Problems with plumbing or electrical issues are absolutely emergencies. Fires, floods and other catastrophes also require an immediate response. A broken dishwasher might be inconvenient, but your tenant should know it does not require you to go out to the property at 10:00 p.m. on a Saturday night.
Always pay attention to preventative maintenance issues so you can avoid the surprise emergencies. Any time you are in the property, check the sinks for leaks, make sure the furnace filters are being changed regularly and ask your tenants if the appliances have been running well. Have your major systems inspected and serviced regularly. Your furnace is less likely to break down unexpectedly if you inspect it occasionally.
When an emergency does occur at your property, you have to be available. Your tenant is not going to want to make 10 phone calls in order to get your attention. Make sure you are able and willing to pick up the phone and address the problem right away. If you don’t, you’ll cause more damage to your property and you’ll have a very displeased tenant who will likely not want to renew the lease or stay in the home. Answer the phone, give your tenant initial instructions and take care of the problem. If you are local to the area, expect to go to the property yourself to see what’s happening and meet your vendors at the property.
Always work with responsive and readily available vendors. If it’s 2:00 in the morning and you need a plumber but you don’t have a reliable plumber you’ve worked with before, it’s going to be hard to find one willing to come and help you at that moment. Establish relationships with qualified and licensed experts. When you have those relationships in place, you’ll have no problem calling your vendors with an emergency at any hour of the day.
When landlords are considering whether they want to manage their properties on their own or turn the job over to a professional property manager, tenant and property emergencies should be a huge consideration. Responding to these types of situations can be stressful, disruptive and time consuming. Having a property manager in place means you know your property is well maintained already, you know someone will be available for your tenants to call around the clock, and you know your manager has a list of vendors who are responsive, professional and very good at what they do.
Please contact us at Dave Poletti & Associates if you have any questions about how to respond to emergencies, or if you’d like more information on how we take care of our landlords and tenants in these types of situations.