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  • Writer's pictureSteve & Kendra Day

Property Management Plumbing Easy Fixes

Plumbing issues are the most common and time consuming maintenance requests we receive from tenants. Tackling a wide range of problems can be overwhelming. Here are some strategies to help you minimize maintenance calls, save time and money AND maintain a good rapport with tenants.

Tub stoppages and clogged/inoperable garbage disposals are our top plumbing issues. To help reduce garbage disposal/kitchen sink stoppage, maintenance requests, we recommend providing each tenant with a proper wrench. Most of the time, tenants can fix their garbage disposal issues with a garbage disposal wrench. When a tenant runs into a problem, follow up with a quick explanation on how to use the wrench, unclog the unit, and reset it. There are also many helpful YouTube tutorials that will walk the tenant through each step. This usually fixes the problem.

Bathtub clogs are common and can be easy to prevent. It is usually hair build-up that causes tub/shower clogs. We suggest supplying the tenant with a hair trap for each tub in the unit. This is such an easy fix and significantly reduces clogged tubs. With a little education and the right tools, your tenant can help solve the top reasons for plumbing problems.

In a perfect world, these suggestions would eliminate plumbing problems. In the real world, tenants will still call with situations they can’t remedy on their own. Sometimes these problems are not your financial responsibility. When you send a plumber to a unit, make sure they determine if the situation was caused by the tenant. Our plumbers have pulled diapers, toys, and golf balls from toilets, and aquarium rocks from garbage disposals. These types of maintenance problems are the tenant’s responsibility. If the problem was because of tenant error, charge them for the fix. Most tenants will be more careful in the future. This approach also reduces plumbing requests. If your tenant refuses to pay it probably won’t warrant proceeding with an eviction. We suggest keeping record of the charge, leave it in the tenant ledger as an outstanding balance, and when the tenant moves out, deduct the charge from their security deposit.

It is also in your best interest to develop strong, long standing relationships with different plumbers. We have found that loyal relationships with top tradespeople help save money and time. You may need to establish a relationship with several plumbers as each will have specific qualifications to meet your needs. For example, you may use one plumber who specializes in clogs and another may work with large apartment heaters. You may also need a plumber who is willing to tackle your after hour emergency calls. Take the time to get to know your tradespeople and treat them well. We get great rates and service because of the strong relationships we have developed.

At the end of the day, there aren’t permanent solutions for common plumbing problems. There are ways to reduce the cost and maintain a solid relationship with your tenants. Keep your tenants educated about preventative maintenance, give them tools to minimize problems, require tenants to pay to fix the issues they caused, and build strong relationships with your trades people!

At Day & Associates, we purchased garbage disposal wrenches and hair traps in bulk. A minimal investment and a great return for the owner. It has also helped us reduce our maintenance requests so we can focus our time on more complex issues and overall maintenance of the building. Our maintenance coordinator takes time with tenants and provides resources to help them resolve problems. If the problem can't be solved we lean into our trusted plumbers. We work with 7 different plumbers, each specializing in a different plumbing services to best meets the needs of the tenants and owners.

For more information on strategies to help manage maintenance requests, give Steve a call at 310-529-6456.

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