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What Qualifies as an Emergency Maintenance Request?

Wheatland Tenant Holding a Bucket Under a LeakSeveral Wheatland property managers know that you need to respond immediately when a tenant calls with an emergency maintenance request. Yet, which maintenance requests are emergencies, requiring instant attention, and which are less urgent? This is one of the most challenging questions that property owners face since certain issues, even if they give trouble or difficulty, are not true emergencies. On the contrary, other maintenance issues are sufficiently risky to be addressed immediately or risk violating Landlord/Tenant laws or habitability code. Figuring out the difference between the two can assist you with dealing with the entirety of your tenant’s maintenance requests with certainty.

Defining Emergency Repairs

One way to know when you have a true emergency on your hands or not is to consider to what degree the maintenance issue could cause injury, serious property damage, or threaten your tenant’s health and safety. Any scenario that fits this definition is usually considered an emergency. See significant emergencies below:

  • Gas Leak
  • Frozen or Broken Water Lines
  • Flooding or Water Emergencies
  • Fire
  • Carbon Monoxide Detection
  • Sewer Back-up
  • No Heat in Cold Weather
  • No Air Conditioning in Extremely Hot Temperatures
  • Extended Power Outage
  • Intruder Break-In

Is It An Emergency? It Depends.

It is imperative to comprehend that certain maintenance items may be emergencies under one set of conditions but not another. As an illustration, a broken air conditioner is not an emergency during frosty winter weather. However, during a heatwave, where temperatures hit harmful levels, it is undoubtedly needed. Failing to respond immediately to emergencies like these – including those that occur in the middle of the night – could violate habitability laws and, ultimately, bring serious legal trouble. This is particularly the case if your inaction starts your tenant to take matters into their own hands and coordinate or do the repairs themselves.

Non-Emergency Maintenance Types

On the other hand, some maintenance issues that, although inconvenient, are not essentially considered emergencies except if there are extenuating circumstances. For example, a malfunctioning appliance, no hot water, or minor leaks may be bothersome for your tenant but normally do not fall under the category of an emergency repair. These types of maintenance issues should be reported as a regular maintenance request, which you can take care of during business hours.


For rental property owners, identifying what constitutes an emergency maintenance issue and how to respond appropriately is an essential aspect of effective property management. If you believe that you cannot respond to such requests rapidly or have other demands on your time, it might be ideal to hire a quality Wheatland property management company to do it for you. To learn more about what Real Property Management Trailhead offers rental property owners like you, contact us online.

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