6 Common Maintenance Emergencies at Rental Properties

The Joseph Group Jan 2022

Ian Joseph

“Clients first!” – is a huge part of the DNA that Ian Joseph and his Team have established at The Joseph Group. This motto helps them focus on striving for the highest level of customer experience, for their clients (landlords) and customers (tenants). In fact, Ian strongly believes that in life, family and business, you must strive to give more than you receive. “You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." - Zig Ziglar


Emergency maintenance items at a rental property are typically things that can affect the tenant’s health or the habitability of the property. Many property managers use the phrase “fire, flood, or blood” so tenants can easily remember and determine if the issue they’re having is indeed an emergency.

The response time might be different for different things. Like how a hospital emergency room handles patients that come in for different things, different emergency maintenance items at a rental may have different priority levels and response times.

For example, if your heater stops working at 2 am, having an HVAC tech come to the property to investigate the next day is a normal and adequate response while a sink that’s backing up flooding the unit, and causing more damage every minute will warrant a plumber coming out immediately to help prevent extensive damage.

1. Water Heater

No hot water is an emergency but something that doesn’t need an immediate (within an hour) response unless it’s leaking and damaging the property. If the water heater is in an unfinished basement, then that’s a different scenario than if it’s located in a laundry room on the second floor of a townhouse where the water damage can be significant if it leaks for hours.

2. No Heat or Air Conditioning

While this is a priority when weather is extreme (high or low temperatures) and most landlords and property managers will try to have a tech out as soon as possible, this is not an issue that maintenance techs are sent during after-hours as it’s something that can usually wait a day or two.

3. Flooding

Maybe an appliance or toilet is leaking, or a sink backs up. Usually, your property manager will try to get the tenants to “stop the bleeding” by shutting the water off. If this isn’t possible, then getting someone out as soon as possible is best to prevent further damage.

4. Gas Leak

If you think you smell gas, you should call the gas company. Gas companies will come out to your rental home for no charge to check if there is a gas leak and shut off the appliance that is leaking if needed.

5. Clogged Toilet

While this doesn’t seem like an emergency it can be if you only have one toilet. Having a toilet that’s operable is important for health reasons. Unless the toilet is leaking and causing damage, someone may not be sent out after-hours but typically within a day or two, it should be fixed.

6. Broken Locks or Windows

Securing the property for the safety of the tenant is important and typically does warrant an immediate response day or night. While locks can usually be fixed or replaced quickly, windows will need to be ordered but can be boarded up as a temporary measure.

Some things that are not considered emergencies:

  • Non-working kitchen appliances
  • Ants or mice (pests)
  • Leaky sink
  • Broken garbage disposal
  • Exterior damage (i.e. fence)
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Wall outlets
    And more

Emergency maintenance isn’t always as simple as if something is or isn’t considered an emergency. It can also depend on the weather (in instances that involve HVAC, for example), how many bathrooms a property has, or where the water heater is located. Knowing where the water shut-offs are the fastest and easiest way to downgrade an emergency involving plumbing to a non-emergency.

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