What Maintenance Issues are Emergencies and What Can Wait for Regular Business Hours?

What does a maintenance crisis mean in a rental property? Does that imply that maintenance is required immediately when something goes wrong in your residence? If you're unsure about what maintenance is is classified as an emergency and what isn't, you're not the only one.

A landlord has to understand what an emergency is. Many circumstances can be uncomfortable for renters and cause inconvenience, but aren’t necessarily emergencies. Sometimes minor problems arise after office hours, but these can wait to be resolved the next day. Emergencies on the hand must be address right away.

To understand the difference between emergent and non-emergent maintenance issues, keep on reading!

What is an Emergency Maintenance Situation?

Let's start by explaining what a "maintenance emergency" is. It’s something that demands immediate attention and, if unaddressed, may lead to accidents, health risks, or significant property damage. Certain situations are unquestionably emergencies. Examples include water or power outages, fires, floods, suspected gas leaks, and more.

What Maintenance on a Rental Property Qualifies as Emergency?


Water leaks can be very concerning because they might cause harm to your property. In many situations, a renter's complaint of flooding will be classified as maintenance emergency. You should take immediate action to solve this issue.

plumber looking at pipes under a bathroom sink

Your wooden floors could become damaged by a leaking roof. Check to see whether the tenant can find the water valve leads to the ruptured or damaged pipe. If not, the main water supply valve should ideally be turned off until the technician arrives.

Tenants can however postpone submitting the property maintenance request until business hours if the leak is small.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide can be dangerous to the tenant's life. Immediately notify the fire department and tell your tenant to leave the property completely if they suspect there’s a leak.

The landlord is responsible for initiating the repair and resolving the problem. If you don't, you could be held accountable for any personal injuries the tenant sustains.

To protect your tenants, you need to conduct regular inspections on carbon monoxide detectors to ensure such emergencies don't occur. You should also provide your tenants with safety information on how to prevent and handle these situations.


In such a circumstance, the tenants should make sure that they call the fire department before anything else. A renter also has the right to contact their landlord whenever they want in the event of a fire.

Instruct your tenant to leave the property right away while you wait for the emergency crew to arrive. It’s always advisable to acquire landlord insurance to protect your property against loss due to such risks.

You should also perform regular checks on smoke alarms and instruct you tenants on best fire safety and prevention practices.

red fire alarm on a white wall

Gas Leak

You must take immediate action if a renter complains about gas leakage. The risk of an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning is high. Ask the tenants to turn off appliances and/or the gas line if you suspect a gas leak.

The main cause of the gas leaks is rusted and disconnected pipelines. Therefore, respond quite swiftly to repair requests regarding gas leaks whenever you become aware of them and preform routine preventative maintenance and inspections over the course of the tenancy.

What is Not Considered a Maintenance Emergency?

Tenants occasionally experience situations that can seem urgent but don’t require immediate attention. Non-emergent maintenance issues pose minor inconveniences but do note present an immediate risk. They include:

Faulty Air Conditioners

The tenant may experience some inconvenience, but there is no urgent situation. The tenant must report this concern during regular business hours.

The context can be important, however. For instance, when there is a lack of air conditioning during a heat wave, this may be a maintenance emergency. In that case, get in touch with a repair team right away.

Noisy Neighbors

A tenant should wait until regular business hours to file a complaint if they’re having a problem with loud noise. Tenants only need to leave a detailed message outlining the entire issue.

However, it’s recommended to contact the police or emergency services if the renter considers it to be violating their right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of their rental.

locksmith in blue overalls helping someone get into their house after being locked out

Locked Out

A tenant calling you after business hours to request assistance because they’re locked out of their rental is not an emergency. The renter should contact the neighborhood locksmith. For rekeying, the neighborhood locksmith should consult with the building manager.

How to Prevent Situations Requiring Urgent Repair

It’s important to distinguish between urgent and non-emergent maintenance first. Emergency repair requires rapid attention. On the other hand, maintenance issues that are not urgent can wait until regular business hours.

If a toilet is clogged in a rental apartment, but there is another working toilet, the problem is not an emergency. It’s not emergent if one elevator is out of service, but no one is stuck inside, and other elevators are still operating normally.

However, if none of them are opperational, this should be addressed right away to ensure that all residents can move about the building.

This differentiation helps to keep expenditures in check. However, carrying out preventive maintenance is the greatest method to keep from needing emergency repair.

Bottom Line

You'll be able to prioritize repair work more effectively if you know which situations demand quick and immediate action. Renters want to know that you’re in control of the situation. However, you can work with a reputable property management company if you want to lessen your stress and save time.

Consider RentEasy if you're seeking a trustworthy property manager. Please contact us if you have any inquiries or want more details about our property management services!

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