What is a Maintenance Emergency – And What can Wait?

When you live in an apartment maintenance issues are bound to happen. There are any number of reasons that they may occur, but deciding which ones are emergencies and which aren’t can be tricky. This guide will help you determine when you need to place an emergency request and when you can wait till normal business hours.

Start with Your Lease

Read your lease in its entirety. It will often provide information regarding certain maintenance emergencies and define specific parameters that set apart emergencies and non-emergencies. If you have any questions or if something is not clear, talk to the apartment manager to better understand the terms.

For instance, a non-functioning air conditioner may be considered an emergency depending on the outside temperature. This may vary geographically or even from property to property. Some leases my stipulate that it is an emergency if the temperature is 90 degrees while others may say 72 degrees. Again, it is important to check with the manager to know for sure.

In some cases maintenance issues can be addressed within a day or two of you placing your request. However, more involved or complex maintenance issues may take several days and require maintenance or a contractor to schedule an appointment.

Non-Emergency Maintenance

Some issues don’t require immediate attention. They can be handled during normal maintenance hours.

Some non-emergency maintenance issues include:

  • A burner on the stove not heating
  • Non-functioning ice maker
  • Noisy neighbors (If it is a security issue or is serious, call the police. If you don’t feel that it warrants a visit from the police, you should still alert the management during normal business hours so that they can be aware of the situation.)
  • Water faucet dripping

High Priority Maintenance

There are some maintenance issues that are not emergencies requiring immediate attention, but they can’t really wait more than a day or two either. These issues require expedited attention and take priority over non-emergency issues. They are often taken care of during normal maintenance ours.

High priority maintenance issues include:

  • A small or minor leak in the plumbing
  • Locked out of your apartment (You will usually have to call a locksmith if not during office hours)
  • No hot water.
  • Air conditioner is not functioning (in some cases – it may depend on the outside temperature)
  • When a wild or stray animal enters your apartment (You will usually need to call animal control or law enforcement)

Emergency Maintenance

Emergency maintenance issues are usually very serious and pose a threat to the health or safety of the occupants, the contents of the apartment, or to the property. Most properties have a special phone number for emergencies. If the problem occurs during business hours you may be able to reach the office directly. Read your lease to find out your property’s protocol for emergency maintenance requests.

If you encounter a true maintenance emergency, make sure you take steps to secure yourself, your family, and your possessions before making the call. For instance, if the unit is flooding, move your possessions to an area where the water can’t reach them. If there is a fire, evacuate the building with your family or roommates, call 911, then call maintenance.

Emergency maintenance requests may include:

  • Non-functioning refrigerator
  • Clogged toilet (if there is only one toilet in the apartment)
  • Clogged bathtub (if there is only one bathtub in the apartment)
  • Overflowing toilet.
  • Non-functioning garbage disposal (if it has clogged the sink and water is backing up into it.)
  • Carbon monoxide detected.
  • Major leaking pipes or water leaks that may cause flooding
  • A potential or suspected gas leak (DO NOT call anyone from your apartment if you suspect you have a gas leak. Go outside and make the call after turning off the appliance and shutting off the gas line.)
  • Door or window locks that are not functioning
  • Non-functioning air conditioner (depends on the property and outside temperature)
  • Non-functioning heater (depends on the property and outside temperature)
  • Flooding
  • Loss of power. (Check the circuit breakers, reset the GFI breakers on the non-functioning outlet, and, if applicable, check the fuses. If you still don’t have power, it is a maintenance emergency.)
  • Fire in the apartment or building
  • Broken window
  • Refrigerator not functioning

When You Make a Maintenance Request

When you make a maintenance request, whether you call or submit it online, make sure you provide the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your unit number (and any other relevant information regarding your address)
  • Your phone number
  • A brief but detailed description of the problem

If maintenance or a contractor requires you to be present for the service call, make sure that you do not miss the appointment.

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