Real Estate

12 Ways To Ensure You’re Handling Tenant Requests Efficiently

If a tenant reaches out with a repair request, it’s important to address it as quickly as possible. This not only fosters goodwill and satisfaction, but it also can save you money, as you’re likely solving something now that would be far more costly to fix later on. Of course, solving things quickly is easier said than done, especially if you’re managing multiple properties or if the request requires extensive equipment or labor.

So what do you need to know in order to better manage maintenance issues at your properties? To find out, we asked Forbes Real Estate Council members to discuss their preferred approaches for handling tenant repair requests in a timely manner. Here is what they said:

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Have The Tenant Coordinate With The Vendor

Have your tenant email you directly with their repair request. After review of the request, contact the vendor to let them know we are approving the repair. Then respond to the tenant with the vendor contact information, so the tenant can schedule a time for the repair to be completed. This saves us time and we are not on the phone back and forth trying to set up an appointment for the repair. - Nancy Wallace- LaabsKBN Homes, LLC

2. Close The Loop

If you are an owner and work with a property manager, it makes all the difference if you establish a clear process to perform the repair and close the loop among the three stakeholders—tenant, property manager and owner. From the owner perspective, you can (and should) establish “rules of engagement” with your property manager, so they know when to get you involved before a large repair. - Spencer HilligossMadison Investing

3. Choose Your Trade Workers Ahead Of Time

It’s better to plan ahead and have your trade workers lined up. If you are more interested in saving your time and not your money, find a general contractor who can take care of all your issues. The best way to find reliable trade workers or general contractors is by asking people you know for referrals. - Chris RyanBeyond Properties Group (eXp Realty)

4. Track And Record All Requests

All repair requests need to be submitted in writing via email or through a tenant portal. Text message or phone calls are not accepted (unless it’s an emergency flood or fire). We forward the request to our appropriate vendor with approval notification to the tenant and inform the tenant electronically of when the repair is scheduled for. - Tanya DelahozDwell Summit

5. Set Expectations From The Lease Signing

You need to negotiate clear expectations and true accountability mechanisms in the original lease document before you occupy the space. The challenge most companies have is they don’t plan for challenges. They establish a good relationship with an owner or property manager, and then the building sells and service levels drop. This can be mitigated by getting it in the lease on the front end. - Jonathan KeyserKeyser

6. Establish Emergency Availability For Yourself And Your Vendors

Establish emergency availability and ensure your vendors can provide the same. Prenegotiate pricing and SLAs with strong vendors so you’re not haggling while your vendor is on-site and your resident is expecting a resolution. When capturing requests, use tools and processes that collect enough information and photos to help diagnose and then resolve issues in a single visit, when possible. - Jay GoldklangGreat Jones

7. Offer A Maintenance Guarantee

In rare situations, repairs can’t be done as fast as tenants want. If so, tenants may get upset and call city inspectors. Why not offer a maintenance “guarantee?” If a repair is not made within 72 hours, the tenant gets free rent on a prorated basis after the 72 hours until repaired. You eliminate tenant frustrations and have more time to handle those rare times when a timely repair could not be done. - Jeffrey TaylorMr. Landlord Inc

8. Keep Your Vendor List Updated

Make sure your vendor relationships are still intact. People move. You need to find that out before you need tenant maintenance performed. Calling should be on a periodic to-do list. - Michael J. PolkPolk Properties / Matrix Properties

9. Determine The Level Of Urgency

Automation is great, but it isn’t the solution for everything. Calling tenants and figuring out exactly what kind of repair they need is critical. Does “my basement is flooded” mean a complete disaster or a manageable wet spot? You need those details so you send the appropriate contractor and resolve the problem. Also, place follow up calls once the work is done. - Aaron MarshallKeyrenter Property Management

10. Address All Requests As Soon As Possible

Service requests should always be entered into the property management software immediately. Most leases require that requests are made in writing. However, in the interest of great customer service, consider accepting verbal requests either in person or over the telephone. Also, try to service requests by noon the same business day or within 24 hours to provide exceptional customer service. - Caroline KaneCKR Property Management, LLC

11. Provide Alternate Communication Options

Unfortunately, technology is not always reliable. Emails may get filtered due to spam blockers or not sent due to internet connection issues, websites sometimes go down, etc. Also, some repairs are emergencies (for example, a water leak) and require immediate attention. Accordingly, provide tenants with at least one cell phone number as a back up for after-hours emergencies or to follow up. - Catherine KuoElite Homes

12. Have A Few Vendor Options For All Types Of Repairs

One effective system to ensure tenant repair requests are handled promptly is to make sure your company is aligned with at least two to three first-class licensed and experienced vendors for every repair/rehab trade and send the request out to all of them at the same time. These repairs are delayed quite often because vendors are backed up on jobs weeks at a time. - Jim BrooksThe Brooks Team – EXP Realty

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