If you own rental property in Philadelphia, you know that being a landlord is not a 9-5 job.
And while sometimes this is a blessing in disguise (think no corporate office setting, no timeclock, and no required business casual attire), there are times when working in a non-traditional industry such as real estate can wreak havoc on your schedule.
Yes, we are talking about the after-hour emergency calls you receive from tenants.
Dealing with a midnight call from your tenant is not something you can avoid.
While prevention is the key, there is bound to be a time when your tenant (as much as they wish they didn’t have to) will pick up the phone in the middle of the night to tell you that your rental property has flooded, caught fire, been vandalized, or has otherwise been compromised in some catastrophic way.
Luckily, we have some tried and true property management tips to offer you for handling after-hour calls from your tenant.
As a property owner, it is your legal responsibility to maintain a safe and habitable home for your tenants.
In addition, providing efficient and timely repairs for your tenants is one of the best ways to keep your tenants satisfied and turnover rates low.
So, let’s see how you can minimize the after-hour calls you receive from your tenants, as well as discuss the best ways to handle them when they do ring in.
How to Minimize After-Hour Calls from Your Philadelphia Tenants
Establish Emergency Guidelines
Prior to your tenants moving in, you or your property management team should discuss with them what constitutes an actual emergency.
Sure, as a property owner you are obligated to handle all property maintenance and repair issues in a timely manner.
However, unless something is broken within your rental property that is immediately affecting the health and safety of your tenants, or compromises the safety of the building your tenants are residing in, there is no real reason a tenant should be calling you after-hours.
Here are some of the things that are considered true emergencies that merit an after-hour call to you or your Philadelphia property manager:
- Gas leaks
- Electrical issues
- Water emergencies
- Backed up sewer lines
- Leaking roofs
- Carbon monoxide detection
Some things that your tenants may feel are considered emergencies, but in fact are not, include:
- No hot water for a short period of time
- Clogged or backed up toilets or drains
- Noise complaints or security issues (call 911 if appropriate)
- Parking issues
- Minor leaks that can be handled in the morning
As you can see, communicating with your tenants the differences between emergencies and non-emergencies can help minimize after-hour calls significantly.
How to Handle Actual After-Hour Calls from Your Tenant
Since after-hour calls are a part of being a property owner, it is important you have a plan for handling them − you are bound to run into some after-hour emergencies at one point or another.
1. Provide Emergency Contact Information
Start by providing your tenants with emergency contact information prior to move-in. This way, when an emergency pops up, your tenant knows exactly who to contact right away to get the situation remedied.
By doing this, not only do you forge a direct line of communication between your tenant and the person or company best equipped to handle the after-hour emergency, you reduce the chances of being woken up in the middle of the night, only to tell your tenant they need to contact someone else.
A great way of getting this type of information into the hands of your tenant prior to move-in is to include it in the tenant welcome package you give to them at the signing of the lease agreement.
Provide contact information to the local police, water treatment facilities, reputable plumbers and electricians, and even the gas company.
In addition, consider showing your tenants how to turn off the main water, or operate the fuse box themselves, just in case.
2. Set up an Answering Service
If you own a large portfolio of Philadelphia properties, and run the risk of having many after-hour calls, consider setting up an answering service for your tenants to contact with emergencies.
From there, your answering service can determine the next steps, whether that be to reach out to you, contact a maintenance crew of some sort, or take a message and leave it to the next business day to handle.
Here are some helpful tips for making sure your after-hours answering services meet the needs of your tenants, and come across as professional, personal, and sincere:
- Monitor the way the answering service answers the phone to ensure your tenants know they have contacted the right people
- Have the call center discuss the urgency of the situation to determine whether an after-hours maintenance visit is necessary
- Prep your answering service to field all questions, concerns, and complaints if you enable them to work during regular business hours, as well as after-hours
- Implement advanced functionality, such as over-the-phone scheduled showings, payment processing, and general maintenance requests
In the end, providing a suitable outlet for your tenants to call after-hours is the key to handling their concerns in a timely fashion, without having to deal with every call personally.
3. Handle Each Call Quickly
In the case of an actual emergency, it is critical you respond appropriately in the quickest way possible. Not only is this your legal responsibility, it shows your tenant that you really care about them.
There are times when a physical response to an after-hours call will not happen immediately. And often, your tenant will know this.
However, by reaching out and acknowledging the situation, explaining the next steps, and assuring the tenant you are doing everything in your power to handle the call in the best way possible, your tenant is apt to feel more calm about the situation, and satisfied in how it is being handled.
4. Get Informed Yourself
In the event that you receive an after-hours call that requires immediate action, find out for yourself exactly what is happening, and what the next steps are before diving into explanations with your tenant.
Talk to an authoritative figure and find out things such as:
- Will your tenant need emergency accommodations for the night?
- Who else needs to be contacted to repair the problem?
- Who is liable for the damages that have incurred?
- How long are the repairs expected to take?
By finding out this information beforehand, you avoid misinforming your tenant and causing confusion, or disputes about how the emergency will be handled going forward.
5. Employ a Property Management Company to Handle After-Hour Calls for You
One of the best things you can do when it comes to handling after-hours tenant calls is to enlist the help of an experienced property management company in Philadelphia that has a 24-hour maintenance crew on hand to handle after-hour emergencies.
Not only will they act as your answering service, a quality property management team will have access to all professional contractors that have the ability to repair anything from broken pipes, to leaking roofs, and gas leaks, to electrical issues resulting from a fire.
In the end, no property owner, yourself included, looks forward to receiving an after-hours call from a tenant.
However, your tenant is likely to be just as upset about having to call you after-hours.
Remember, an emergency situation happens to both you and your tenant. It is important to be understanding of the situation, and simply help remedy the problem as quickly and painlessly as possible.
If you own property in the Philadelphia area and want to hire a reputable property management company to handle all of your tenant’s after-hour calls, emergency repairs, and more, contact Bay Management Group.
With our crew of professional handymen, as well as the reliable contractors we have worked hard to build a solid rapport with, we at Bay Management Group are available 24 hours a day to handle all tenant questions, concerns, and of course, emergencies.