One of the biggest reasons that residents choose not to renew is multifamily maintenance issues. They may call in problems and never get a response, or they may receive repairs that aren’t satisfactory. There is nothing more disruptive and frustrating for tenants than a problem that the landlord should fix but doesn’t. Failing to address multifamily maintenance adequately will result in rapid tenant turnover and a poor community reputation that makes it challenging to keep occupancy up.
Alternately, proper maintenance can create community goodwill and increase tenant satisfaction. When a tenant knows their needs are a priority, they’ll be hesitant to give up that predictability at renewal time. It’s also better for the property overall as small maintenance issues can add up and create much more expensive problems. Proactive multifamily maintenance is the key to keeping community and tenant relationships in good repair.
4 Ideas for Better Multifamily Maintenance
Rarely does a massive multifamily maintenance issue pop up overnight. Often, they’re a result of a small but overlooked problem that grows until it turns into a burst water pipe, clogged plumbing, or a broken air conditioner. By proactively addressing tenant concerns, landlords can reduce their repair costs overall and make their community better. Here are four tips for managing this.
#1: Encourage proactive behaviors
An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure—and that’s especially true in apartment maintenance. A clogged air filter in an air conditioner or slow leak in a bathroom can create a thousand-dollar fix down the road. Apartment managers should make it easy to report maintenance issues—possibly by offering an online portal where tenants can submit service requests as soon as they see a problem.
Air filters and other needed replacements should be available as needed, but it also helps to issue the occasional reminder. Typically, filters should be replaced every thirty days in climates where they’re in continuous use. This prevents wear on the motor and potential clogs that lead to expensive repairs.
#2: Triage problems
It helps to have a jack of all trades on staff to check out issues or resolve smaller problems. An excellent example of this comes from water heaters. A tenant may call in complaining they’re not getting any hot water—and a plumber may recommend a full heater replacement. Meanwhile, the issue could have been something as inexpensive as a malfunctioning thermostat. This oversight is the difference between a $200 repair and an $8,000 repair.
An onsite handyperson can review most of these issues before calling in experts to resolve the larger ones. This can also help landlords respond to maintenance requests faster as specialists usually book a few days out, but an onsite handyperson can react immediately.
#3: Focus on a solution, not a symptom
One thing that landlords often make a mistake with for maintenance is that they treat the symptoms rather than the condition. For example, if there’s a leak in the roof, they may just patch the hole without finding the source of the leak and seek a total resolution.
Treating symptoms rather than conditions is an expensive mistake that will add up. When there is an issue with a leak or something similar, it’s important to investigate why it occurred to keep the problem from recurring. This prevents small problems from growing out of control—an unresolved leak could also bring mold and other damage, for example. And proactive solutions ensure that tenants’ satisfaction stays high.
#4: Check for widespread problems
Piecemealing problems leads to scope creep. When they’re sharing a common complaint, landlords should take into consideration how many tenants are involved rather than treat it on a case-by-case basis. This strategy helps them to discover a single issue that they can address all at once. Pests are a typical example.
If a single tenant sees a cockroach or mouse, it’s improbable that it’s an isolated incident. Treating one unit at a time isn’t going to be effective as the pests will just go to units not under treatment. By taking care of the entire building with proactive pest control, the landlord eliminates the issue for everyone involved and prevents reoccurrences.
Keeping a California Contractor on Retainer for Maintenance
For larger multifamily facilities, it’s wise to keep contractors on retainer to deal with common problems and get faster service. By agreeing to use these contractors exclusively, landlords can often get better rates on repairs and parts. Ideally, they should try to find exclusive apartment contractors in the following areas:
- HVAC and air conditioning specialists
- Pest control
- Appliance repair specialists
Above all, landlords need to be proactive about their multifamily maintenance. By fixing issues quickly and making it easy for tenants to report problems, they can eliminate expensive repairs caused by long-term damage. This proactive maintenance is also a way to keep tenant satisfaction high, which leads to better retention rates.