Maintenance issues are among the top reasons renters choose not to renew their leases. Tenants get frustrated when property managers take a long time to respond to their maintenance requests – or worse, fail to respond at all.
There can be many reasons for unsatisfactory responses to maintenance requests. Plumbing repairs may have been checked off at head office as being fully complete, while the resident is still waiting for paint touch-ups. Or tenants might provide incomplete information in their request, like reporting a broken light without identifying the specific fixture in need of repair. Such miscommunication can lead to time-consuming fixes, leaving repair staff to troubleshoot or guess what the issue is, often necessitating a follow-up visit – and costing valuable time and money.
In most examples of maintenance dissatisfaction, there’s room for debate as to which party is to blame. But the end result is the same: If renters are unhappy with how maintenance requests are managed, they’re unlikely to renew when their lease is up.
What does all this mean for property managers? You need to make maintenance a priority. The good news is that you can improve customer service while streamlining operations. Here’s how:
Owners and managers are responsible for much of property maintenance, but tenants aren’t without responsibility. They should keep their unit clean, dispose of waste properly and avoid deliberate or negligent damage to the building. They’re also required to inform the property manager about any maintenance issues as they arise, to ensure that proper repairs can be made and to prevent further damage.
Let your residents know what you expect of them by outlining your requirements in your welcome package and on your resident portal. It’s also a good idea to send a reminder at rent renewal time.
Have Clear Policies & Procedures
In your P&P manual, it should be clear who on your staff is responsible for repairs and maintenance, and how often visual inspections should be conducted. Are there monthly maintenance reports? If so, make sure to put that in writing.
You should also have a preventative maintenance schedule for HVAC and other major investments. And clearly spell out completion times for routine and emergency maintenance work.
Schedule and Track Work Orders
Routine resident requests should be immediately acknowledged and handled through an online portal to ensure accountability. The portal must capture all relevant information about the problem, and even enable residents to easily upload a photo of the issue. It should also require residents to give you permission to enter the unit and allow them to indicate preferred times for the repairs to take place.
With a web-based maintenance portal in place, managers can quickly – and accurately – assign work orders. This allows for timely repairs and updates to residents, as well as a traceable communication trail with contractors or onsite maintenance staff.
Maintaining Good Resident Relations
Property Vista’s maintenance solution offers a centralized communication portal that enables property management firms to streamline operations, making it easier for all parties to track and monitor activity and manage resident communications.
By clearly documenting maintenance requests, property managers can also look across their portfolios and identify which properties have higher maintenance requirements. In this way, they can hone in on problem areas and perform preventative maintenance or make capital purchases as necessary.