Which maintenance issues are emergencies, and which can wait until general business hours? 

If you’re renting out a San Francisco property, you need to know this when tenants are calling in the middle of the night. You and your tenants need to be on the same page about how to define emergencies. 

Generally speaking, an emergency threatens people or property. If there’s no heat and temperatures are below freezing, that’s an emergency. When there’s no running water, you have an emergency. A fire or a flood? Emergencies. 

We can loosely identify emergency maintenance at a San Francisco rental property as anything that affects the health, safety, and habitability of the tenants and the home. 

Here’s a quick guide to your emergency maintenance responsibilities and recommended processes.

Establish Emergency Protocols with San Francisco Tenants

You and your tenants should meet – in person or electronically – prior to move-in to discuss the terms of the lease agreement. Spend enough time going over what should be considered a maintenance emergency. 

Your process will likely include different ways of reporting needed repairs, depending on whether it’s an emergency or a routine fix. 

For emergencies, you should encourage your tenants to call you as soon as they can safely get in touch. Explain to your tenants that you don’t expect to be disturbed in the middle of the night for a clogged garbage disposal, but a flooding kitchen is certainly a reason to call. Make sure that they understand to call 9-1-1 first, if necessary.

You want to be on the same page, and you want your tenants to recognize the urgency of those emergency repairs. 

When to Wait and When to Respond 

Be specific with your tenants about when they can expect your immediate response and when they might be waiting until normal business hours for you to send a maintenance crew. Align those instructions and processes with the legal habitability standards. If raw sewage is backing up into the only bathroom your tenants have, you cannot tell them to call you back in the morning.

Here are some goal posts that may help you decide what warrants an immediate response:

  • Water Emergencies

Water can be incredibly damaging to an investment property.

There doesn’t have to be flooding or storms for a water emergency to occur at your San Francisco rental property. You must respond to such a situation immediately. Any water intrusion or leak must be treated as an emergency, and you’ll likely need to get a plumber over to the property immediately. 

It really doesn’t matter if the cause is a water heater leak, a pipe that’s burst, or soaked floors due to heavy rain. Water can be extremely damaging to your property and dangerous to your tenants. Not only do you have to repair the water damage, you also have to act quickly to prevent rot and mold. 

  • Fire Emergencies

Fires are also considered emergencies. While this is obvious, you want to make sure an emergency plan is in place for tenants who may have a fire at their property. Be sure your tenants know how to exit the building safely. 

  • Toilets and Sewage

When your tenant reports a toilet isn’t working, that won’t be an emergency in a San Francisco rental home that has three bathrooms. However, if you’re renting out a home with only one bathroom, a toilet that isn’t flushing has indeed become an emergency. 

Any time there’s sewage in the house or a sewer line breaks, that’s an emergency which will require a cleaning and restoration crew. 

Emergency maintenance is expensive. It’s also unavoidable. Don’t put these repairs and responses off, and make sure you’re protecting your property. A good preventative maintenance plan will help keep the number of emergencies to a minimum.

Property ManagementIf you need some help establishing an emergency maintenance plan or you’re not sure how to work with your tenants on this, San Francisco property management can help. Please contact us at Gordon Property Management.