What Maintenance Issues are Emergencies and What Can Wait for Regular Business Hours?

If you decide to be a landlord, you should be aware that property management does not keep regular hours. Property maintenance requires you to put in enough time and schedule necessary repairs with contractors. Property emergencies can also occur, and you may need to respond urgently even when you're in bed.

This article will focus on identifying property emergencies and the process of handling them.

Defining Rental Property Emergency Maintenance

To manage maintenance issues quickly, you should know what situations are regarded as an emergency. Though some scenarios can cause inconvenience to the renters, it doesn’t automatically qualify as an emergency.

Even if the problem occurred past regular business hours, it can still be dealt with in the morning. It’s up to the landlord and renter to use their best judgment.

Defining an Emergency

Emergencies are situations that can have adverse effects on your tenants’ health and safety. It causes significant harm and injury. It can also cause intense damage to your property, and affect its value.

Here are some examples of issues that can be considered an emergency:

● Fire breaking out
● Frozen pipes
● Doors with broken locks that can’t be secured
Gas leak
● Malfunctioning heater in winter
● Malfunctioning air conditioning unit during a humid season
● Electrical issues
● Leaking roof
● Extended power outage
● Break-ins by intruders

Defining a Non-Emergency

For scenarios that don’t harm a renter’s health and safety nor affect the property’s state, this is categorized as a non-emergency.

people huddled around a laptop

Below are some examples of issues that can be considered a non-emergency but still reported for maintenance requests:

● No hot water
● No air conditioning (if the outside temperature is below 90 degrees)
● No heat (if the outside temperature is below 50 degrees)
● Malfunctioning appliance
● Noise complaints
● Minor leaks
● Burnt out light bulbs or fixture
● Overgrown shrubs or other curb appeal issues

Proper Handling of Rental Property Emergency Maintenance

When renters reach out to you for an emergency maintenance request, you must have a solid procedure on how to handle it. This way, you’ll properly protect your property and cultivate a great landlord-tenant relationship.

Here are important factors to remember when managing property emergency maintenance:

  1. Reachability
  2. Emergency services
  3. Open communication
  4. Landlord responsibilities
  5. Answering crucial questions
  6. A mindset of understanding
  7. Documentation


Be accessible to your renters. During emergencies, tenants often need someone to guide them on what proper action to take. As the landlord, you must be prepared to handle an emergency situation and offer clear guidance. This puts the renters at ease.

Emergency Services

It’s a given that a landlord has a list of emergency numbers from the police and fire department to utility service companies to seek support during emergencies.

two firefighters surrounded by smoke

But you should also have a trusted vendor/s on your list to call 24/7 to address property emergencies. A sense of readiness is vital in managing a rental home.

Open Communication

Talking with your renters doesn’t end after an emergency is reported. You should keep in touch to provide updates on the situation.

Landlord Responsibilities

As a landlord, you must know how to tell the difference between an emergency situation and a non-emergency for a quick resolution. If it’s deemed as not urgent then it can wait during regular working hours.

As long as potential massive property damage and tenant health and safety issues are concerned, this must be treated as an emergency. You should act upon it promptly.

Answering Crucial Questions

A landlord must be decisive in an emergency. You need to be able to gather crucial information so you can provide the right answers, know what advice to give to the renters, and suggest if temporary housing may be necessary.

A Mindset of Understanding

Calm is expected from a landlord, especially during stressful times. Renters can become frustrated during emergencies and you have to take the lead and be in command. Should the situation be labeled as a non-emergency, you can tell your renters to file a maintenance request.


Due to the escalating nature of an emergency, it can be hard to remember to record the situation. As a landlord, you can still take note of the details, such as the repairs done after the emergency happened.

person signing contract

It’s also good practice to reach out to the tenant through email and inquire if there are any more concerns once the repairs are completed.

Cultivating Emergency Response Vendor Relationships

Since having an emergency maintenance vendor is critical in addressing property emergencies, you must strive to have a trusted set of contractors you can contact anytime.

Just like screening your tenants, you must also properly filter vendors by checking their reputation, ensuring they have insurance coverage, and evaluating if they understand the cost and timeline of finishing repairs.

Hiring Property Managers

If you want to gain more peace of mind, you can hire reputable property management companies which can properly care for your rental property. Selecting the best one requires proper screening. You should learn about the services they provide and what benefits they offer to your rental unit.

Here are key factors to look for in a potential property manager:

1. Area of expertise: property management firms can have different specializations. Make sure that you hire one that focuses on your rental type. Some concentrate on residential properties while others deal with vacation homes, multi-family units, or commercial buildings.
2. The number of support staff: if a company has sufficient support staff then rental management is easier and the operations run smoothly. Support staff includes accountants, administrative personnel, and leasing agents.
3. Available services: weigh the services offered by a property management company and the management fees you’re paying for. Make sure that it’s reasonable and that you get maximum value from it.

Bottom Line

If you’re searching for an excellent property management company, contact McKenna & Vane Property Management today. You can reach us at (410) 381 3336. We help maximize your income, deliver outstanding customer support, handle property emergencies, land great tenants, fill property vacancies, and maintain your rental property in top form!