As a property manager, one of the most common exchanges you’ll have with tenants will be about repairs. From leaky ceilings to broken appliances, there’s an almost infinite list of things that can go wrong when housing is involved. In order to address these problems effectively, you’ll need both a great maintenance staff and the ability to manage them smoothly.
If you’re working to improve team dynamics between management and maintenance, these five strategies can help you develop a stronger working relationship. Your tenants will notice the difference too, as their homes are maintained by a familiar and committed maintenance crew.
Set Clear Expectations
One reason that management and maintenance sometimes clash is because the property manager has failed to set clear expectations with both maintenance and residents about who is responsible for repairs. Typically, there are two subgroups of repairs and maintenance activities; first, there are those things that fall under the implied warranty of habitability and then there are those issues that extend beyond what is considered normal wear and tear.
The concerns that fall under the warranty of habitability should be cared for by the maintenance team, under the supervision of management. This category includes structural issues like roof repairs and ventilation, plumbing, regular pest management, and removal of any environmental toxins. If something interferes with a tenant’s ability to live in the property safely and comfortably, and isn’t due to something unacceptable they did to the property as an individual, you need to get it fixed.
Relationships between maintenance and management can get uncomfortable when you ask the maintenance team to take care of problems that are the tenant’s fault. Unless you’re going to pay them extra after evicting a tenant or the tenant is going to pay them out of pocket with agreement from maintenance, there should be no expectation that maintenance will repair intentional destruction, clear pests brought in by negligence, or clean the interior of the home. These issues are the responsibility of the tenant.
It’s not uncommon for tenants to live in a property for years and never learn the names of the maintenance team members. When we fail to properly introduce tenants to the maintenance team, management indicates that we don’t value these individuals who work so hard for everyone’s comfort.
Be sure to not only to introduce the maintenance team to new tenants, but also offer a few insights into the ongoing relationship between these staff members and the community. Tell tenants how long team members have been caring for these properties, share small personal details about their skills and commitment, and make sure that tenants recognize how hard the maintenance team works for them.
Another nice way to build relationships between tenants and the maintenance team is by featuring a maintenance professional in your property newsletter each month. Recognize them for their hard work, share a few facts – where they’re from, how many children and pets they have – and give residents a way to get to know them a little better. When residents recognize a shared interest or common experience, they’re more likely to reach out to the maintenance team as friends.
Have a Schedule
When you have a great maintenance team, the sort of crew that can fix almost anything, you’ve really hit the jackpot. But sometimes when your maintenance team is this talented, all of their efforts get drawn into the big problems of the properties, such as appliance repairs, plumbing and electrical work, or pest elimination. These are important jobs, but sometimes a focus on big projects means the little things get ignored.
In order to make sure the property is always looking its best and everything is in safe, working order, set a schedule for daily and weekly maintenance activities. Picking up litter and monitoring for landscaping issues are key daily maintenance activities, while you can check for broken outdoor light bulbs and clean model units once a week. Making a schedule or checklist will help both management and maintenance know that these factors have all been looked after.
One surefire way to degrade relations between your maintenance team and your tenants is by failing to clearly communicate service requests. When this happens, tenants become dissatisfied and maintenance often bears the brunt of this frustration when they do show up to fix a problem – even though the snag typically happens at the management level.
To simplify this process and make sure that repairs are addressed in a timely fashion, equip your properties with maintenance request software. This software allows residents to submit work orders digitally, collects them through a central database, and makes it easier to pass along requests to maintenance; you can even give them direct access to the software. No more lost, scribbled notes indicating that 2A – or is that 5A – needs their sink snaked.
Equip Your Team
Maintenance can’t do their job if they don’t have the supplies needed to make it happen, and they need management’s support for this. That means not just giving the maintenance team an appropriate budget for tools and parts, but also giving them a place to store their supplies safely.
Provide quality toolboxes and a shed for larger supplies, and maintain open dialogue with your maintenance team about new supplies. You aren’t an expert in home repair, but they’re likely to know when there’s a new product that could help them do their jobs more efficiently. Your maintenance team works hard and they shouldn’t have to worry about cracking their plastic flashlight on the concrete when you can buy a waterproof, drop tested one that will last for years and save everyone money in the long run.
Grow Your Team with Green Residential
With over 30 years of expertise, Green Residential is the name you can trust to care for your Houston-area properties. Our success is based on a holistic approach to property management, one that takes on everything from tenant screening and financial management to property maintenance, inspections, and evictions. We do the job from start to finish.
If you’re struggling to build the perfect property management team, contact Green Residential today for a free analysis of your management needs. Our team of professionals can help assess your needs and develop a package of services that will best fit your properties. Give your tenants the management experience they deserve, the Green Residential way.