Maintenance and emergency repairs are major issues for landlords and property managers, and even if you have a list of repair professionals at the ready, managing requests and scheduling appointments can quickly take over your schedule. That’s why you need help. Luckily, a growing number of programs aim to support property management professionals in managing these tasks. From the most mundane maintenance problems to sudden crisis situations, these tools can help you set things right.
One of the great advantages of having a professional property management team on call is that most offer 24/7 access to maintenance services. In fact, that’s something we pride ourselves on at Green Residential; we have our own pipeline that prioritizes requests, delegates repairs, and tracks their status. For those outside the Green Residential network, though, how can you possibly manage incoming repair requests? Well, that’s where Latchel comes into the picture.
Latchel is a Seattle-based startup launched in 2016 and while the company doesn’t actually provide property management services, they provide a product designed to handle both emergency maintenance and daily repairs. Tenants can access Latchel’s 24-hour hotline to troubleshoot minor problems, and landlords and property managers can stay connected through photos and messages.
All of Latchel’s repair professionals are vetted, with at least two years of experience, so you know that your properties are receiving expert attention. And, even better, despite filling a key role in assisting property management teams, Latchel doesn’t call on your property managers unless there’s a crisis unfolding. Landlords and property managers can sleep soundly knowing that someone is always on the case if tenants have a problem.
Update To UpKeep
Latchel isn’t the only player in the property maintenance game. The VC-backed startup Upkeep is set to make waves this year and which offers similar services to Latchel. Upkeep, however, is used in large part by big companies, such as Marriott and Jet.com to maintain their facilities. Still, small scale property managers should consider that is UpKeep can handle maintenance requests and organization for huge buildings, it’s more than capable of handling a small complex or series of homes.
Another key advantage of UpKeep is its emphasis on mobile management; as investor Kevin Spain explains, it serves the deskless workforce – the professionals who don’t sit down and search spreadsheets but just turn to their phones. Upkeep’s analytics tools may also be able to help property managers predict possible problems and identify times when maintenance requests are higher so that they can address those problems before they become serious.
Do you know how long water heaters last? What about septic system maintenance – do you know the schedule? While breakdowns don’t necessarily have a schedule, almost everything about your property has a standard lifespan, from house siding and windows to the stove and water heater, and you need to know how long they last. This allows you to budget for repairs and replacements and to perform preventative maintenance at the appropriate times.
Of course, when it comes to regular maintenance and appliance timelines, it’s also possible that property managers will soon stop worrying about these issues until they receive digital reports. That’s because a combination of maintenance technology, such as Latchel and UpKeep, along with AI, may make it possible to predict the best times to replace appliances or do maintenance. Such programs would know the lifespan of the furnace, for example, and alert you to replace it six months before it’s likely to fail.
Though there isn’t an AI program of this sort available to property managers yet, such software will likely come to market in the next few years. For landlords and property managers, early adoption of such tools could be a financial and organizational boon.
Should Your Outsource Maintenance?
By using a program like Latchel or Upkeep, landlords and property managers are essentially outsourcing the maintenance process. Is this a good idea? It depends on the way you look at it. Certainly, as the landlord, you might be inclined to save money on repairs where possible and avoid doing extra work, while outside companies may have a financial incentive to do more work.
On the other hand, you’re not a repairman – and you shouldn’t try to be one. Landlords should never take on DIY projects for their tenants, and you also shouldn’t let your tenants make repairs on their own. That fact is, if you’re doing it right, you’re already outsourcing your repair work to a maintenance company or individual contractors. This is the case even if you have your own pipeline software.
If you do opt to outsource or subcontract your repair work, it’s likely that your properties will receive higher quality repairs by a trained professional at a lower cost because these companies are providing a stable set of jobs for their employees. As with any independent business, once you cover supplies, volume is central to profit. Contractors can reduce the cost of their work if they can be assured of getting enough jobs to bridge the gap and programs like Latchel and Upkeep have that issue covered. Upkeep also has a pipeline for parts, which can reduce your costs associated with mechanical issues.
Green Residential’s Program
For Houston-area property owners, as well as those in surrounding cities like Katy, Conroe, and Richmond, Green Residential provides a wide variety of services, including maintenance management. In fact, we developed an in-house version of these programs just for our clients, and that’s key to our success. Our software carefully monitors incoming maintenance requests, ranks them, and ensures that tenants receive a response promptly, no matter the time of day.
No landlord wants to answer the phone at 3 AM to hear that a tenant’s bathroom is flooded – and you don’t have to. Instead, recruit Green Residential to your team. With over 30 years of Houston-area experience, we take the calls, and we know who to trust in the maintenance game. Contact us today to learn more about how Green Residential can help your properties thrive. You don’t have to take on the work of managing tenants and properties alone. We’re here to help.