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Ultimate Guide to Emergency Repair vs. Maintenance Request

by Megan Althoff | Feb 07, 2017 | Property Manager, Preventive Maintenance, Emergency Service | 0 Comments

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Do your staff members and tenants understand the difference between an emergency repair vs. maintenance request? Tenants often believe that every maintenance request is an emergency or the most important maintenance request in your building, but that is rarely the case. As a Chicago property manager or superintendent, it's important that you explain the differences between emergency maintenance requests and standard unit maintenance along with the priority level differences between the two. This can help your tenets understand the emergency repair vs. maintenance request process.

Maintenance Requests

In general, maintenance requests are work orders for repair jobs that are unit specific. They are fairly common in apartment buildings, duplexes, quadplexes and other types of rental units because the landlord or property management company is responsible for ensuring each individual unit meets all the applicable building codes and is habitable.

For example, the dishwasher in Unit 101 may not function as expected, so the tenant would call or stop by the office to alert the staff to the broken dishwasher. The staff member would write up the work order, and it would be completed in the order it was received.

When it comes to condos and co-ops, certain types of maintenance may be handled by the property management company or on-site property manager and the maintenance staff, but the majority of the maintenance and repairs needed in the unit may fall to the tenant owner. If your condo or co-op handles certain tenant maintenance requests, it’s best to send a letter explaining which maintenance requests are handled by the maintenance staff and which are the responsibility of the unit owner.

For example, if the tenant’s HVAC is part of the whole building HVAC system, your maintenance staff may provide the unit owners and shareholders with some HVAC maintenance, if only to ensure that the entire HVAC system stays healthy and reaches its maximum useful life.

Emergency Repairs

Emergency repairs occur due to a critical system malfunctioning or completely failing. The need for emergency maintenance may also occur if the broken item or system violates a provision in the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance for the city of Chicago.

Examples of emergency repairs would include failure of the residential building’s HVAC system, a burst pipe, severe electrical problems, like sparks and smoke from an outlet or electrical fixture and gas leaks. If any of these maintenance problems occur, it is considered a maintenance emergency because it affects the safety and habitability of the building and the individual units.

Chicago’s Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance (5-12-110) also states that tenants in rental properties should expect the building to be maintained in such a way that it retains its structural integrity. The multi-story residential building must have accessible exits, meaning they cannot be blocked. The floors must meet or exceed certain load bearing requirements, and all bathrooms and kitchens must be in good working order. Tenants must also have hot and cold running water. There are even regulations for maintaining the property grounds. If the landlord is notified and fails to take action, the tenant may have certain legal rights and actions they can take against the landlord.

Explaining Emergency Repair vs. Maintenance Request to Tenants

To help prevent frustration and unnecessary calls to the office and maintenance staff, it is important to make sure everyone knows what to expect when reporting a maintenance problem and reporting a maintenance emergency. A good place to start is when the tenant can expect the repair to occur.

In general, tenant maintenance requests should be handled within 24 to 48 hours, preferably 24. Non-emergency tenant maintenance requests might include a broken dishwasher, a water leak that is not longer actively leaking but caused damage to the surrounding area, and small items that are broken, like door handles and cabinet knobs.

Emergency maintenance requests should be handled immediately, and you should have a 24-hour emergency contractor that you can call in case an emergency does arise in your building. Emergency maintenance emergencies can include severe breakdowns of the building plumbing, HVAC and electrical systems.

Althoff Can Be Your Emergency Repair Contractor

We have plumbers, electricians and HVAC techs ready to handle your worst emergency situations 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, including holidays. All you have to do is give us a call. We will take your building’s information and address, information about your emergency and send an experienced technician to your door to remedy the problem.


To learn more about our emergency repair services for electrical, plumbing and HVAC or to get your building maintenance emergency handled promptly, call us at 800-225-2443.

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