As a landlord or investment property owner, it can be easy to slip into the idea that your job is a relatively easy 9 to 5. Screening tenants, helping with move-ins, and answering the occasional phone call about a leaky faucet isn’t too stressful a situation to be in, and if that’s been your experience so far, count yourself as lucky. For many property owners and landlords, the job can get pretty hectic, almost to the point that it can feel like a second full-time job—not ideal in any sense. Owning investment properties can be very rewarding, but the reality is that sooner or later, a tenant is going to have a problem at an hour that you absolutely won’t want to work during—a roof collapsing and flooding a unit after a heavy rainstorm in the middle of the night or a broken heater on the coldest, snowiest Sunday of the season, for instance. If you don’t have maintenance contractors on deck who are available to work 24/7, you may find yourself in a sticky situation of having to call around until you find one—and that can be a lengthy, often fruitless endeavor that leaves both you frustrated and your tenant upset. Here’s how you can avoid that happening.
Call Chicago Maintenance Companies Ahead of Time
There’s nothing worse than having a problem on your hands and have no solutions or prospect for help on deck. That’s why, when you invest in a property, it can be beneficial to start reaching out to companies that offer the services you’ll eventually need—plumbers, HVAC specialists, general handyman-type services, etc. Establishing a relationship with these businesses and getting them on your roster early can ensure that when the time comes to deal with a problem, you’re prepared. If you’re worried about how to make sure that you’re choosing the best workers—companies who are available at a moment’s notice, who charge a fair price, and who do reliable work—working with property managers can be a great help. Often, property management companies will have a list of these companies that they’ve worked with who have proven themselves to be worth having around.
What Types of Emergencies Should You Plan For?
Emergencies are, by nature, unexpected events that require immediate attention, but there’s still a little bit of planning you can do to be prepared for certain things. Some of the most common emergencies that occur in rentals include break-ins, fires, broken heaters, wiring issues, and plumbing problems. While a break-in can’t really be remedied by calling a contractor to fix things after it happens (if only!), you can help prevent burglaries by installing deadbolts and window locks. Fires can be mitigated by ensuring that smoke detectors are working and fire extinguishers are accessible, while heating issues and plumbing problems will have to be dealt with, unfortunately, after they happen. With this knowledge at the ready, though, you can compile a list of helpful contractors who will be able to assist after an emergency occurs.
A starter list of who you should have on deck for maintenance and emergencies for your Chicago rentals should include:
- HVAC specialists
- Fire restoration specialists
- Window companies (in case of broken windows)
What Can Go Wrong If You’re Unprepared?
If you don’t have contractors ready to help when something goes wrong at one of your properties, you can find yourself dealing with not only unhappy tenants, but problems that can become larger and larger as time goes by—for instance, a broken pipe overnight that can’t be tended to until morning can lead to damage to floors or walls, or even problems with surrounding units, such as if water seeps through floors and down through the ceiling of a unit below. Problems compounding is the last thing you’ll want to deal with, so it’s best to be prepared and ready to go in case of emergency.
What Should You Offer Tenants in the Event of an Emergency?
If one of your tenants has an emergency at their rental unit, you’ll want to find out if they have renters’ insurance, particularly if the emergency is related to a fire or flood (events that cause a lot of damage to their personal items). While you are usually not required to provide housing assistance if the emergency makes their place uninhabitable, you may want to check with local laws—if the emergency was caused by a repair that was neglected, you may be on the hook for covering costs for your tenant to either stay in a hotel or relocate entirely.
If the emergency is not affecting your tenant’s housing status, but is creating a significant inconvenience (such as an unheated apartment in the dead of winter), you may want to consider knocking off a sum of money from the following month’s rent. This isn’t totally necessary, but if the tenant had to find somewhere else to stay for a couple of days, the break on rent will be much appreciated (if not required by law).
Be sure to outline in the lease what you will and will not cover expenses for in the event of an emergency. It can be a good idea to encourage tenants to carry renter’s insurance so that if something does happen, they’re not stuck recouping expenses—which can then cause them to be late on rent.
Getting Help with Your Rental Properties in Chicago
Making sure that you and your tenants are both covered in the event of an emergency doesn’t have to take up all of your time. If you live far away from your investment properties or just want a way to make owning your rental units easier, working with a Chicago property management company can be a great help. Here at Lofty, we know that your time is valuable, and that’s why we do everything we can to take the busy work off of your to-do list so that you can live the life you deserve, including maintenance, emergency repairs, helping with tenant relationships, and more. If you’re ready to start enjoying owning your investment properties more, call us today to learn more about all we do.
Speak with one of our experts to find out how we can supercharge your investment.