Landlord/PM response time to an issue

12 Replies

I am curious, fellow landlords or PM, what is your response time to a tenant complaint?

I know it's not cut and dry, and definitely depends on the nature of the problems.

I would think a water line break or sewage backup would warrant an immediate response?

A broken central AC in the middle of summer may be within 24 hours?

A broken washer or dryer say 48-72 hours?

A stuck garbage disposer...when I get around to it I will just remove it altogether?

Is that about right?

How do you set expectations with your tenants on how quickly you or your PM will respond to issues?

Do you have something in the lease to address this specific point?

Do you have any references to define what "true emergencies" are?  For example, for a 1 BR apartment, you take a hot shower for 20 minutes in the morning, and your boy friend (who is not even on the lease) goes in the shower after you and his hot water runs out in 10 minutes - is NOT an emergency?

I think it varies by state. In Washington, landlords/PMs have a set timeframe to fix a problem. And it depends on the problem: emergency or non-emergency.

An experienced PM in your area will have the answers.

Response time and repair time are two different things. If you don't respond to a tenant's communication within 24 hours you are ignoring them. I try to respond right away, and then be clear about my timeline for getting over there to fix the problem.

Tenants are happy as long as they know what is going on. There is no need to drop everything and rush over for non emergencies.

Originally posted by @Max Tanenbaum :

Response time and repair time are two different things. If you don't respond to a tenant's communication within 24 hours you are ignoring them. I try to respond right away, and then be clear about my timeline for getting over there to fix the problem.

Tenants are happy as long as they know what is going on. There is no need to drop everything and rush over for non emergencies.

 Sorry for the confusion.

By response time I mean the time elapsed that a tenant would expect the issue to be resolved.  Not the time it takes me to reply or inquire, or the time it takes to examine of trouble shoot.

Updated almost 3 years ago

May be a better term is "resolution" time.

@Sam Leon Hi Sam, I'm an investor down here in South Florida with a Property Management Company in Fort Lauderdale that services all of South Florida.

Response times definitely varies. When we sign leases, we give tenants a list of what is considered an emergency and what is considered a non-emergency. While we are as prompt as possible, it usually depends how fast someone is available to get there.

I have a list of what we constitute as emergency/non-emergency and how we handle different situations for our company that we give to the tenants when we sign a lease. Feel free to message me with questions, I'd love to help and I'm always looking to network with investors in the area.

Elizabeth

I just take care of issues immediately once they arise whether it's a clogged toilet or no hot water. It keeps the tenants happy and willing to pay on the 1st.
As soon as possible. If a tenant is not paying rent, they can drop dead

I agree with Wells, take care of it as quickly as possible, with the caveats of:

Defining emergency / non-emergency and expected fix times

Clearly communicating with the tenant

Even if you define a good response time as 48 hours, doing it in 12 is going to look better.  So, the question is, how quickly are you willing to respond to have a happy tenant?

100% agree with others.  I also spell out emergencies versus non-emergencies along with normal hours of operation.  This provides a balanced approach.  In general, I believe 7 to 10 days for non-emergencies and 2-4 days for emergencies is reasonable effort.  Communication is key.  

Always be sure to walk through the property when giving the keys showing them how to flip a breaker, shut off the water, change the air filter :-).  Will definitely save you time.  And I generally walk my properties every quarter just to have some face time.

I learned from someone else on this forum (I can't remember who) to under promise and over deliver.  Meaning, give yourself some flex time when you tell the tenant when the problem will be fixed.  But fix the problem with time to spare.  An example would be:  If the hot water heater stops working and I think I can have it fixed within 48 hours, I'd tell the tenant I'll have it fixed within 72 hours.  But I'll try to fix it within 24 hours.

There are things to respond to and then  moments for education.  The boyfriends shower running out of water is the later.   You have x  gallons in the hot water tank.  There are just some things you can do nothing about.  Complainers complain a lot about the later. In some cases  I just acknowledge as soon as I am able and use what they call the broken record technique.  Most  get responses in 24 -48 hours unless they are urgent.

For response time set expectations that you are not going to be able to respond 24/7 and let them know what is urgent. If it is not urgent then  on a weekend Monday it is.  I do like the idea of under-promising so you can overdeliver to a point.  No Heat and the absence of water are urgent and get same day responses. Absence of hot water to me does not fall into the same category urgent but not necessary to call the service guy at midnight so I would call during business hours.   I also let them know multiple calls when there has been a response are not helpful. I usually can't make the furnace guy come any faster.   

@Max Tanenbaum @Colleen F. @Justin Jocewicz Account Closed

What tools do you guys use to manage tenant communication?

Several landlord friends of mine mentioned that they manage  their tenant requests themselves. Is it really worth messing with them at 11pm, 2 am, 4pm on Christmas Eve? 

I self-manage and use email and text.  Leases state that I should be contacted from 9-5 unless it is an emergency.  Generally, I replace appliances, toilets, flooring and paint, lighting, etc so there isn't too much to be called about.  

Listening to the podcast the other day, really need to be more professional and company oriented.  So, I am going to set up a quick site, do automatic payments and get a google voice or grasshopper #.  

If it is an emergency, you want to know.  If it is not, and you get a text or call at that time, I would simply not answer.  On the iPhone you can set do not disturb hours and mine start at 2100 :-)

I hope this helps.

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