Managing the physical condition of the property is one of our biggest tasks. This is where most of the stress comes from as we balance habitability and money issues. We have to be sensitive to electrical problems, plumbing, septic tank backups, rodents, dishwashers, A/C systems and the quality of the air, the water, the gas service where applicable, and power. Judges and court systems hold us to a high standard when it comes to the expectation to provide a safe and habitable place to live, as do the people living in these houses. In their minds, the safety of people overrides the safety of the property and the cost to the owner, so we manage with that standard in mind. Tenants are not a protected class, but they are a favored class when it comes to managers keeping their safety as a high priority.
Resident maintenance issues are handled in the order in which they are submitted considering life and property issues first.
Maintenance Spending Limitations
No one wants to give their property manager an open checkbook, and we don’t want one. That being said, we also can’t contact the owner every time something needs to be repaired. The management agreement has a $300 ceiling on repairs we can order without waiting for your response. Where we get into trouble with this limit is during weekends and holidays or on HVAC units. As a practical matter, we exceed that limit from time to time out of necessity to save the owner money in the long run. A great example would be an after-hours plumbing call or a Sunday HVAC call.
Note: This spending limit does not apply to emergencies, move-in contingencies (cleanliness), or habitability issues. Occasionally, but not often, there is a heavy storm, burst water pipes, flood, fire, A/C out in 95-degree weather, heat out in 35-degree weather, sewer backup, etc., and we must respond immediately. We will sometimes have to make a “command decision” based on the information we have, and the situation in which it comes up. We know we are ultimately accountable to you for using good judgment. However, sometimes we just have to use common sense when managing your property. The day we abuse this is the day you’ll find another manager, so we understand our limits and want to handle your home as best we can.
Minor Maintenance Issues
Before the tenant moves in, they agree to handle regular, everyday issues around the house themselves like flipping GFCI switches, resetting garbage disposals, etc. Some tenants are accustomed to living in an apartment community with maintenance personnel around to change their light bulbs and help them move the grill. We’ve dealt with this long enough to know what we can pass on to them and what we should respond to.