How Often Does Tenants Call You For Repairs/Issues ?

11 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I plan on closing on a duplex soon that has tenants already in it. It will be my first rental property. I've met the tenants and they seem nice and such. 

My questions is, how often does your tenants call you for repairs? How do you manage them if you are far away? 

Any input would be great.


Thank you

Very rarely do I get calls. I do inspections quarterly making surprise repairs few and far between. Tenants let me know of issues when I do inspections. Most calls are not repair related, usually just letting me know of activities on or around the property or their plans of being away.

Best to hire a PM if you are away for the benifit of the tennats.

@Cody Jensen

Calls are few but I typically rehab the units so not much is wrong.  When you have existing tenants it’s difficult to know.  Request a history or repairs that have been made from the seller.  I self manage my properties and I must tell you I receive very few calls.  The middle of the night my toilet is plugged I have never received.  

I agree with @Thomas S. if you are far away hire a pm or at least a maintenance man you trust.

I usually conservatively bank on getting one call a quarter per unit on average, but my portfolio is made up of 100+ year old buildings.

If a particular tenant is contacting me for minutiae, I attempt to reset their expectations.  The Pareto principle totally applies here.  A few tenants will comprise the majority of your service calls.  If you are able, remove them from your business to optimize efficiency.

2 calls per month but I own several 100 year old buildings and in low income areas the tenants income and pay schedule sometimes doesn’t coincide with rent collection day

@Cody Jensen  It all depends on the tenant and the condition of the unit- I generally get calls about 2-3 times a year per tenant.

I highly recommend making a relationship with a PM or a handyman BEFORE you need them. Sure as Murphy exists, you will get your first call when you aren't able to devote time to it and then you will pay top dollar for some emergency responder that pops up on Google if you haven't reached out to someone prior to the first call. Just find a few names/numbers, call them and explain that you would like to have them work on property sometime, then save the number for when their service is needed. Congrats on the duplex!

-Toby Thompson

The landlords that I know that get tons of maintenance calls are the ones that don't property maintain their units. One landlord I know always complains about his maintenance calls, but he also buys cheap distressed properties, does the very minimum required rehab get it rented out,  and he doesn't fix or replace anything until it's beyond repair. So every maintenance call he gets is a catastrophe because he doesn't do anything to prevent it.  There will always be exceptions, but if you take care of your units and fix issues as they arise you will generally have less maintenance calls in the long run. 

When tenants move into a unit, I ask for a list of everything that isn't working correctly and needs to be repaired. (And then I get those items repaired). Usually after that initial list, I will 1-2 calls per quarter. But it will depend on the individual tenants. I had one set of needy tenants that had random little issues every other month, and other sets of tenants that I only hear from once or twice per year. 

Originally posted by @Wesley W. :

I usually conservatively bank on getting one call a quarter per unit on average, but my portfolio is made up of 100+ year old buildings.

If a particular tenant is contacting me for minutiae, I attempt to reset their expectations.  The Pareto principle totally applies here.  A few tenants will comprise the majority of your service calls.  If you are able, remove them from your business to optimize efficiency.

I agree! The ones that complain a lot end up getting the most. 

You should consider this when renewing a lease and adjust the rent $s accordingly.

With low-income rentals, we have the opposite problem. People will often not call with minor issues that become bigger and bigger if they're not taken care of. I agree with everyone else here who highlighted the importance of staying on top of maintenance in old buildings, we achieve regular inspections through filter changes and CO2/smoke detector battery changes. We also keep a snag list of every known minor issue in a property. We're routinely in and out fixing items off that list, inviting opportunities to point out issues.

The message has to be clear, the landlord gives a damn and is a solid, reassuring fixture in the tenants' lives. In low-income properties, that's what keeps the place from getting trashed.

I self-manage 12 tenants and get very few calls, now that I have booted the very needy couple. In one 45 day period, they called 30 times! On the other end of the spectrum is a tenant that has never called in the 3 years he's rented from us. Most have some type of issue about once a year.