According to Murphy’s Law, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Though we prefer to see the world through a slightly rosier lens when it comes to property management (especially property maintenance), it remains true that things will inevitably “go wrong.”
So utilizing our data, we compiled a list of the top 10 most common maintenance issues you can expect to encounter as a property manager. Whether you manage single-family homes or multi-family units like apartments, you are likely to experience at least one of these common building maintenance issues.
1. Air Conditioning (14.2% of all reported issues)
Your city is in the midst of a heatwave and surprise, half of your units’ air conditioning systems just threw in the towel. Or worse, a blizzard blew through town and your residents’ heat isn’t turning on. Sound familiar? If so, at least now you know you’re not alone.
About half of all HVAC — heating, ventilation, and air conditioning— service requests in the southern United States occur in a span of three months when summer arrives and air conditioning units start the heavy lifting. That means your area HVAC specialists are also feeling the heat, leading to service delays and sweaty, disgruntled residents.
The majority of negative reviews for HVAC repairs happen after just three days. If you don’t have a process in place to gauge your HVAC system’s usable life or a system to track this time-sensitive repair schedule, you’re going to hear it from your residents and/or feel it in your wallet. That’s what makes this the #1 cause of all property maintenance issues.
2. Doors (11.7%)
Imagine one of your residents comes home from a long, stressful day at work. All they want is a room full of silence and a glass full of wine. As they slide their key into the front door’s deadbolt, click-click-click, nothing happens. You’re the first person they call. You better have a trusty locksmith on speed dial or you’re going to have an unhappy resident. You’re also going to want to have a way to follow up on the repair to ensure it goes down quick and smooth, like that wine.
3. Toilets (8.3%)
Water flows along the path of least resistance. Get a clog in the toilet and you may find that path leads right onto the bathroom tile. Let’s not mention the walls. It’s important to have a plumber to fix the problem or you’re going to have a lot more, well, you-know-what to deal with than just a wet floor. You’ll also want to follow up on the repairs because unaddressed leaks can over time lead to water damage and a much bigger issue than dragging a toothbrush out of a pipe.
4. Sinks (5.0%)
Whether it’s a drip, clog, leak, or something else, sink issues need to be addressed quickly before they sink your company’s chance at a favorable resident review or lease renewal. The cause of a leak isn’t always easy to identify, meaning your plumber may have to make multiple visits. You better have a system to track repairs efficiently. Or maybe you enjoy playing phone tag and sitting on hold.
5. Bathtubs (3.9%)
Bath-taking can be a polarizing subject. Some people love them. Others find them rather disgusting. The need to fix a leak, clog, seal issue, or any other kind of bathtub trouble as quickly as possible is much less divisive.
6. Drains (3.6%)
A backed-up drain isn’t something that sorts itself out. And while Drain-O and the like can provide a momentary respite, it’s not a long-term solution.
7. Refrigerators (2.7%)
How deep is your knowledge of the intricacies of refrigeration? Yeah, we thought so. Have a refrigerator fail on you and you’re probably going to need a specialist or maybe even a new fridge. Both can be costly. Probably not as costly as a one-star review by a resident who had $100 worth of groceries go bad on them because you took too long to fix the problem, though.
8. Lights (2.7%)
In 1879, Thomas Edison patented the first commercially successful light bulb. Nowadays, all it takes is the power to go out or the lighting system to falter to feel like you’re in the 1870s again. Most residents can replace their own light bulbs. Any larger electrical issue will require the work of an electrician.
9. Showers (2.7%)
Recognized a trend yet? Of the top 10 most common maintenance issues, five are water-related. Plumbing can be pesky and in most cases is not a do-it-yourself kind of job. That means securing quotes, coordinating the schedules of residents and contractors, troubleshooting issues, confirming the work is completed, and following up with residents. We got tired just reading that.
10. Disposal (2.6%)
Garbage disposals simplify the chore of washing dishes. That is until it fails chock-full of garbage you’d rather not dig out by hand. Like electrical work, fixing garbage disposals is one of those jobs you don’t really want to learn through trial and error. If you were the best property manager, you would already know the answer to what we’re about to say.
As you can see, the most common maintenance issues aren’t do-it-yourself fixes. That means property managers must diagnose the issue, coordinate the resident and repair person’s schedules, assign an appointment with a specialist, follow up after the work has been completed, and handle billing and payment.
Key takeaways for smarter preventative maintenance
Without a system to track the regular servicing, age, and predicted usable life of a home’s mechanical components, as well as a process to trace a repair job from start to finish to ensure resident satisfaction, your repairs will also inevitably, like Murphy’s Law states, go wrong.
Take it a step further and download our free ebook: Top 10 Common Maintenance Mistakes Property Managers Make and How to Overcome Them.