As the world begins to emerge from social distancing, property managers are facing a number of challenges. While some tenants are unable to pay rent, others are frustrated over amenities closures or concerned for their safety. Meanwhile, property managers still need to keep their units in healthy, working order.
Due to stay at home orders, most property managers have been operating with a skeleton crew maintenance team, only coming in for urgent repairs like plumbing issues. Since many tenants haven’t wanted anyone entering their space, property managers have been receiving fewer calls for things like garbage disposals or kitchen cabinets. While it’s been nice to get a bit of a breather on that end, they can expect to get a big wave of maintenance calls once things start opening up.
We work with property managers all over the country and aim to be as helpful as possible. So, to support them in navigating this time, we put together a series of tips for managing their maintenance backlog.
1. Prioritize your maintenance backlog.
Creating a plan of action for attacking your maintenance backlog requires thoughtful prioritization of work orders. As you review tenant requests, it’s a good idea to categorize them by the level of seriousness and arrange them in order from most, to least urgent. For example:
1. Plumbing, Leaks and Water Damage
- Sanitation and Safety Issues
- Trash Removal
- Common Area Repairs
2. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
3. Electricity and Appliances
- Air Conditioning Units
- Electrical Issues
- Ovens and Refrigerators
4. Exterminations and Mold
5. Dishwashers and Disposals
6. Small Fixture Repairs
7. Cosmetic Repairs
- Landscaping, Painting, Updates
Now might also be a good time to address any maintenance issues where you don’t have to enter someone’s unit. Summer is a good time to get roof work taken care of, any landscaping or sprinkler system needs, or garage doors and gates serviced. Things like this can also help show residents that you’re still around and working to keep the property up to date!
2. Check-in with your supply chain and providers
Is your preferred hardware store open and operating as usual? What about your exterminator or air conditioning technician? Your go-to flooring company? As you begin to sort through your work orders, check-in with all your usual providers to make sure that their supply chain hasn’t been interrupted by COVID closures. If so, start looking for alternatives.
3. Communicate with tenants.
Let your tenants know that you’ve received their requests and you’re on it. It might be a good idea to send a notice out to all tenants, letting them know that you are prioritizing their work orders, and thank them for their understanding. They will likely be a bit impatient, but staying ahead of communication can help curb excessive calls or emails. You can let them know that you are prioritizing work orders, and even tell them where their request stands on that list, and when they can expect to hear from you.
For example, you can communicate that plumbing will always remain a top priority, so those repairs will be addressed first, but tenants may need to wait a little while longer for more aesthetic or less urgent repairs.
If you have short-term fixes available for their issues (perhaps their central AC isn’t working, but you could drop off a window unit, etc), go ahead and offer them. If not, assure them that their safety is of the utmost importance, and you’re aware of the issue.
4. Keep your maintenance team safe
Reopening and getting back to normal after COVID will happen in phases, and you should still keep social distancing and safety precautions in mind for at least the rest of the summer – if not longer, depending on your location.
It may feel excessive, but continuing to check with tenants on their health status, arming your contractors with masks and gloves, and providing extra cleaning supplies will help keep everyone safe, and help keep tenants’ minds at ease when these folks are entering their units.
If possible, urge tenants to allow staff to enter their unit when they are not home.
5. Plan for an unsure future
We handle bookkeeping and accounting for property managers all over the country, and we’ve been here to support them (remotely) throughout everything. Whether you’re a property manager with 200 units or a property manager with 4,000 units, having a thorough understanding of the financial health of your portfolio is the first step in preparing to navigate this new, post-COVID world.
We’re here to provide exceptional accounting and bookkeeping services, save you money on accounting costs, and help you weather any storm you might be facing.
Give us a call today, and let’s get you ready for whatever tomorrow may bring.