Property Management Blog

What Maintenance Issues Are Emergencies and What Can Wait for Regular Business Hours?

Pinnacle Property Management - Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Property maintenance is a key responsibility for landlords but it can also be one of the most difficult aspects of owning a rental property. No one wants to be woken up by a maintenance call at 2 am. 

However, responding to your tenant’s maintenance issues on time is crucial. Tenants don’t want to rent from a landlord who takes days or even weeks to respond to a maintenance call. A delayed response to a maintenance request is one of the top reasons for tenant dissatisfaction. 

As a landlord, being responsive will positively impact your bottom line. Among other things, you’ll experience a high tenant retention rate, which will help you save money you’d have otherwise spent to re-rent the unit. It can also incentivize tenants to care for your property. 

In today’s blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about what maintenance issues are emergencies and what can wait to be dealt with during regular business hours. 

Emergency Maintenance Issues 

An emergency maintenance issue is one that causes injury, excessive property damage, or threatens the health or safety of a tenant. 

emergency maintenance issues

Common examples of emergency maintenance issues include the following: 

  • Fire.
  • Damaged plumbing.
  • Flooding.
  • Extended power outage.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • A leaking roof.
  • Failure of the air conditioning system during extreme heat conditions.
  • Lack of heat during the cold winter months.
  • Gas leakage.

Non-Emergency Maintenance 

Maintenance issues that don’t threaten a tenant’s safety or health aren’t considered emergencies. This, however, doesn’t mean that a tenant shouldn’t report them for action. A tenant should report the following maintenance issues during normal business hours: 

  • Minor plumbing leaks, such as a dripping faucet.
  • Parking disputes.
  • Noisy neighbors.
  • A malfunctioning appliance.
  • Burnt out bulbs.
  • Lack of hot water.
  • A broken ice machine.

How a Landlord Should Handle Maintenance Issues

How you handle your tenant’s maintenance requests can either make or break your rental investment business. When you handle them properly, you’ll not only build a good relationship with your tenant but you’ll also protect your investment’s value. 

The following are some tips to help you handle maintenance issues the right way. 

Make It Easy for Your Tenants to Handle Maintenance Issues 

It’s in your best interest to let your tenant know how they can reach you when maintenance issues occur. This will prevent issues from becoming bigger and more expensive to fix. 

maintenance issues that can wait for regular business hours

The best way to do this is by having a system in place that allows tenants to report maintenance issues. A simple online maintenance tracking system can make it simple and convenient for your tenants to report issues. 

Respond to Maintenance Issues as Quickly as You Can 

Once you have a reliable maintenance tracking system, make sure you’re available whenever called upon. In regards to urgent maintenance issues, your response should be immediate.

Once you’ve received the request, the first thing to do would be to contact the tenant to get additional details. This will give them the assurance that you’re working on finding a solution to whatever issue they are having. 

Decide Whether Professional Help Is Necessary 

It can be tempting to try and fix the problem yourself either to save money or because you genuinely have the required skills. However, doing it yourself isn’t always the best or safest way to resolve an issue. You might not have the necessary certification or the required time to do the repair. 

Hiring a professional is almost always the best route to take. A reputable contractor will have the best knowledge to fix the problem without issues continuing. 

Set a Maintenance Budget 

It’s important to have a financial game plan for maintenance. While maintenance issues won’t follow a certain schedule, they are bound to happen at some point. Being prepared for such times will ensure you’re able to handle any occurrences without much hassle. 

what is an emergency maintenance issue

Generally speaking, set aside anywhere between 2 percent and 10 percent of the rental income towards maintenance issues. If the monthly rental income is $2,000, then set aside at least $40 to $200 for maintenance. 

Let Your Tenant Know About Their Maintenance Responsibilities 

When drafting the lease agreement, make sure to state what maintenance responsibilities your tenant is liable for. According to California law, tenants have the following maintenance responsibilities: 

  • Making small repairs and maintenance. 
  • Maintaining the unit in a clean and habitable condition. 
  • Reporting maintenance issues as soon as they occur. 
  • Allowing landlord entry to fix reported issues.

You have a maximum of 30 days (or sooner for emergency situations) to respond to maintenance issues after being notified by a tenant. If you don’t, your California tenant may exercise certain legal options including withholding rent payments or fixing the repairs themselves and then deducting the costs from future rent payments. 

Establish Professional Relationships With Trusted Vendors 

This is key to your success as a landlord. Since maintenance issues are inevitable, it’ll be important to have a group of contractors and vendors who you trust to resolve problems. 

 emergency vs non emergency maintenance issues

Be selective with the vendors and contractors you work with and just as you would with tenants, make sure to screen them thoroughly. Ask them questions such as:

  • What is your client satisfaction rating?
  • Is your company insured?
  • Are you licensed to operate in South Bay? 
  • How many years have you been working as a maintenance contractor? 
  • What is your pricing model?
  • Are you bonded
  • Can you provide referrals?

Hire a Property Management Company 

Responding to maintenance issues can prove to be stressful and daunting. And this may be in addition to other stressors, such as high vacancy rates or having to deal with difficult tenants. 

A good property management company will help you avoid these difficulties. They can help you find a great tenant, respond to maintenance issues on time, collect rent, and more!


Responding to maintenance issues on time is key to being a successful landlord but it can also be one of the hardest parts of the job. If you need expert assistance, Pinnacle Property Management can help. We have over 30 years of property management experience in the South Bay area. Get in touch to learn more!

Pinnacle Property Management
CA DRE # 01905815
22700 Crenshaw Blvd.
Torrance, CA 90505
Ph: (310) 530-0606
Fax: (310) 626-9786

We are open from 8:30am to 5:00pm M-F.

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