Adventures in Property Management

Emergency or Not? Maintenance issues

System - Sunday, November 19, 2017
Property Management Blog

When you work in property management, maintenance, repairs, and general property upkeep are just routine parts of the job. Something is always breaking or in need of repair. And when it starts affecting day to day tasks, everyone tends to think that their particular maintenance request is the most important and is always an emergency! This article is a quick reference to what is and is not considered an actual emergency.

Some things really are maintenance emergencies that require an immediate response. Generally anything regarding gas or electricity will get my attention pretty quickly. Problems with these two could actually hurt someone.

A good rule of thumb is, Fire, Flood, or Blood... Smoke, fire, gushing water or immediate danger to people constitute an emergency.


Electrical issues are a slightly different matter as not all calls are an emergency. Sometimes we get calls saying the power has gone out. This is where troubleshooting comes into play. Is the whole block is out? If so, there is nothing we can do. Or, if it is just their location it is something we can talk a tenant through like a tripped breaker, or an unpaid bill?

Other electrical calls are different. Smoke, melting cords, etc are truly an emergency and should be taken care of ASAP! Don't wait call the emergency line if it is after hours!


If a tenant complains of a gas smell, response is fairly quick. The fire department should be your first call if you smell a gas leak. Leaking gas could lead to major problems, plus not all tenants are aware just how dangerous gas can be.

Most times the calls for a gas smell are an easy fix. A pilot light may need to be re-lit or a gas line connection may have become loose. But in rare instances, gas lines that have been worn away by rust. So no matter what, leaking gas gets prompt service.


Another item that will get quick attention is gushing water. Water will generally not hurt anyone but it can cause a lot of property damage. Water flowing out of an irregular place (such as the ceiling or walls) is truly an emergency. The sooner the water gets shut off the better.

But there are the calls about a drip from the bathtub faucet. Although annoying, and should be fixed, it doesn't usually warrant an after hours emergency call.

Danger to tenant?

If there is no heat in the middle of winter, or no working toilet in the unit at all, these would be considered emergencies as they can be dangerous to tenant health. However, if you have at least one working toilet, or if the a/c breaks during the summer, those are not emergencies. They are highly inconvenient and annoying, but are not considered health hazards.

Everything else?

So what about the broken handles, beeps or an annoying faucet drip? Always turn in that maintenance request for repair, so further damage can be avoided, but be understanding that a true emergency will be handled first. Some repairs are optional and turning in a request doesn't necessarily mean they will be repaired or replaced (think repainting the unit, or getting new carpets).

Talk to your property manager about your questions, they are the best person to help with your maintenance situations.