Prioritizing Maintenance Tasks


As an investor’s real estate holdings grow, more and more tenants will call with maintenance requests.  These requests can range from emergencies to frivolous, but will require attention at some point.  How should maintenance calls be processed?  What about taking calls in so they can be logged and prioritized?  Don’t get bogged down, it isn’t as bad as it seems.  With a good system in place, managing maintenance tasks can be easy!

There are a lot of programs out there currently that will allow investors to log, track expenses, and run fairly sophisticated reports on maintenance tasks, but in the early stages, it may be possible to get by with a simple spreadsheet.  Most spreadsheet software has the ability to add multiple sheets to one file (normally they look like tabs).  Prioritize using 4 different sheets, Emergency, General, Cosmetic, and Tenant Caused.  Each spreadsheet should have columns for address of property, tenant name, phone number, work requested, and work completed.  This allows the quick scheduling of work at a glance, the ability to track when it is completed, and have access to tenant information as necessary.  Now, when calls come in, they can logged and prioritized as necessary.

How do the calls come in?  My suggestion is having a separate phone line or voice mail box that tenants call with maintenance requests.  At first, this may be just an additional cell phone that the investor (or his maintenance guys) checks the voicemails on regularly.  Investors may want to give tenants one number for their general maintenance requests, and a second number to a live person for their emergencies.  However, some tenants will try to call all requests in to the live person.  Explain to them that if it isn’t an emergency, it needs to go through the request line so it can be logged appropriately.

How do calls get prioritized?  When broken down into 4 groups, Emergency calls would be handled first..  These are the calls such as flooded basements, hot water tank burst, fires, and other true emergencies.  These will be the calls that someone will need to tend to immediately.

General maintenance tasks would be things such as lock changes, broken windows (unless tenant caused), loose steps, and other requests that are important to keep the property functional, but not urgent.  These should generally be handled on a first come first serves basis, but eventually all systems find a way to sort things internally by importance.

Cosmetic tasks would be things that tenants request that really aren’t landlord responsibility, or things that while esthetically pleasing, aren’t necessary to keep the property functional.  Examples of this could be painting a wall in a tenants unit, gardening (and lawn mowing!), and upgrading light fixtures (such as an upgrade to a ceiling fan from a standard light).

Tenant caused repairs will sometimes start off in the general maintenance tasks list.  Once a task is inspected, it may be determined that the tenant caused the problem, such as a broken window, or a door that was damaged.  These tasks will generally fall into the tenant caused repairs.  Often times, the tenant will need to be charged for the repairs, and work may be held off until after the tenant has done so.

Scheduling maintenance tasks is not an exact science, and over time systems evolve as necessary to schedule and complete work in a timely fashion.  Having a system to prioritize and organize maintenance calls, however, will be the linchpin of the system.

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One comment to Prioritizing Maintenance Tasks

  • […] and on the phone), and a copy of all written communication should be kept in the tenant file.  Maintenance requests, discussions regarding rent collection, payment agreements, and other pertinent conversations […]

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