One of the best ways to keep tenants happy is to keep up on repairs to the properties as they arise. All too often, the big issues with plumbing or heating need to be dealt with in a very timely fashion, however, this is where you run into a bit of an issue: advance notice. In most areas, all this is, is letting your tenants know 24 hours in advance you’ll be stopping by. There are situations where you can enter without notice, but those are typically emergency situations such as heavy water leakage or fires. Nolo.com offers a great chart that can tell you what your state’s requirement for notice is.
Going by state and local laws, keeping your units safe and habitable is essential. Housing codes and their standards will differ from state to state, but generally involve minimum requirements in respect to things like power, ventilation, light, water and sewage. If you want to know more about those, contact your local building and housing authority and they can provide all the information you need.
If a tenant is requesting repairs and this goes ignored by a property manager, they do have legally accepted recourse. There are a number of options, again, varying state to state but these can include:
- Withholding rent- now, in some states, the tenant is also required to hold that amount in an escrow account
- Hiring someone to make those repairs, then deducting this from their next rent payment
- Moving out and termination of lease
- Reporting this to a local building inspector
- Lawsuit for a refund of past rent payments, with additional damages for any distress caused by the issue
This is why taking care of those issues as soon as they come up, or even offering reduced rent if the tenant takes care of it is important. If the issue isn’t major, it’s acceptable to respond within 48 hours, but always keep them in the loop in terms of how things are going. Remember, your tenant is the one that has to live with whatever that issue is, and a little courtesy will go a long way in defusing a potentially bad situation before it starts.