It’s the classic nightmare scenario. Your phone starts ringing in the middle of the night or on a long holiday weekend. Before you even tap accept on the phone, you can feel the frantic energy coming from the resident on the other end.

So, what to do?

If a tenant calls you in a frenzy about some issue or another at the property, there are some basic steps you should take – regardless of whether it is 3am or 3pm.

  1. Remain calm – This might be easier said than done depending on the extent of the issue, but it’s important to stay calm and logical. While it’s natural to feel a greater sense of urgency when the call comes in the middle of the night and that urgency can be further amplified if the resident is particularly emotional, it’s important to approach the issue with a calm, level head.
  2. Assess the nature of what’s happened – Is it truly an emergency, and is it a landlord-responsibility item? For this, you should look to your lease agreement. It may spell out what specifically an emergency is and what a landlord-responsible item is. Common emergency scenarios include no heat in the winter, physical damage to the property, or major plumbing issues (is there water actively running in the unit that can’t be stopped?). These types of issues will require immediate attention from you as the property owner.
  3. Assure the resident – Thank the resident for calling and assure them that you will be taking appropriate steps to remedy the situation. If it is not an emergency that requires immediate 3am action, advise them that you will follow up first thing in the morning. If it is a true emergency, keep them apprised of what to expect next.
  4. Contact an after-hours emergency solution provider – This could be a plumber, electrician, or HVAC provider. It may take some research to find a vendor who is open after hours or on holidays, but most major metropolitan areas will have some. You may also need to go over to the property yourself to see what is going on.

At RL Property Management, we have an after-hours call center to assist with middle-of-the-night emergencies. If a resident calls with an issue, they will reach our call center and an assistant will go through the above steps with them, up to and including dispatching a provider from our list of pre-approved, after-hours vendors.

It certainly can be unsettling to deal with an emergency situation, but the important thing is to stay calm and follow a rational checklist. If you have property management questions or what to do during a maintenance emergency, feel free to contact us with questions.