As a new landlord there are lots of things you have to get up to speed on, and you should start out by making sure that you know your rights, and the right of your tenants. The city of Seattle provides a pretty good overview document of Tenant-Landlord law that applies to most of the surrounding cities in King County including Woodinville. You can access it from the attached link and even print it out to hand out to your tenants. With that in mind, here is a quick and easy guide to responding to a repair request from one of your tenants.
Do I have to Repair My Rentals?
Yes, you do. According to the RCW 59.18.060: Landlord Duties you as a Woodinville property manager or landlord are legally bound to respond to and make repairs when issued a repair request from your tenant. You should also accept and respond to emergency calls 24/7 in case of a real emergency such as a fire or water mains break, but you can also hire a property management company in Woodinville or a 24-hour answering service to pick up the phone for you.
How to Respond to Repair Requests
There are multiple types of repair requests and for the most part, the best way to respond is to send someone over as quickly as possible. There are two main types of repair requests including emergency and ongoing damage.
Emergency – Emergency repair requests are most often made via phone and should be handled as quickly as possible. Fixing emergencies prevents damage to your building and ensures that your tenants have their minimum living standards supplied to them. Emergency repairs typically include missing keys, water mains breaking, toilet issues, and even broken windows, or fire. In this case, you should consider trying to have a maintenance company on call to go over and look at the issue.
Ongoing Request – Ongoing repair requests are most often for small things that affect the quality of life rather than the livability of the unit. These sorts of requests often arrive via mail and via a phone call and are most often recorded if tenants are afraid you wont’ answer them. Because you are legally bound to respond to these requests you should consider calling the tenant to talk about the issue, even if they sent you a letter.
Making repairs is the last step of responding to a request and also the hardest part. Unless you happen to be a handyman, consider finding a maintenance company that can service your units whenever you have a problem. Your regular maintenance team can most likely do the job.
Keep in mind that as a landlord, you are legally responsible for any issues in your units. While you can hire a Woodinville property management company to do the job for you, it is otherwise your responsibility. This means politely responding to tenants no matter the hour, ensuring that issues are fixed as quickly as possible, and performing regular maintenance to keep maintenance requests to a minimum.