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Is This an Emergency? A Checklist for When You Should Call Your Property Manager

Property managers are a busy bunch–they’re responsible for handling leases and move-ins, dealing with maintenance and repair issues, and a host of other administrative activities that would keep any person on their toes. They’re also the go-to person for emergency situations, but sometimes what may seem like an emergency to a new renter isn’t really a drop-everything situation to a property manager.

So how can you know whether or not you’re in an emergency situation where the property manager should be notified? Below is a simple checklist to help you determine if it’s something you can handle on your own, or if it’s time for you to call your property manager for help.


  1. Heavy Leaks or Flooding: If a pipe bursts or springs a serious leak and water is basically flooding everywhere, that’s definitely an emergency. Most pipes near sinks and toilets will have some type of water shut-off valve within reach, so if you can tighten it up to cut the water off, do that first, and then notify your property manager immediately.
  1. Strong Gas Smell: If you ever detect a strong gas smell, that’s almost always an emergency situation. Your first step should be to leave the building and call the local gas company immediately to report the gas smell. After everyone is safe outside and you’ve called the gas company, then be sure to call your property manager to let them know about the issue.
  1. Fire: While it’s obvious that a fire is an emergency situation, the important thing to remember is that your first obligation is to call 911 before calling your property manager. After all, the local fire department has all the equipment to put out the blaze; your property manager does not. Once you’ve called 911 and evacuated the building (and notified your neighbors to do the same), your very next call should be to your property manager.

Not an Emergency

  1. Leaky Faucet or Running Toilet: If one (or more) of your faucets has developed a drip, or if your toilet is running (e.g., you keep hearing water fill up the tank over and over, indicating a slow leak), this is definitely something you should let the property manager know about, but it’s not an emergency. That means you can arrange to have the issue taken care of during regular business hours. A property manager who’s on top of things will typically have an issue like this knocked out within a couple of days or less.
  1. Appliances Stop Working: Maybe your dishwasher conked out on you, or maybe one of the burners on the stove isn’t working anymore. They’re not life-threatening situations by any means, but they can definitely be an inconvenience. For things like this, you can wait until the property management office is open during business hours to make a call.
  1. Air Conditioning or Heating Goes Out: This is a tough one, because depending upon the current weather conditions, it might be an emergency for you not to have a working heater or air conditioner. You’ll definitely have to use your own discernment here, so if your A/C or heater goes out after business hours and the weather isn’t extreme, more than likely you can “rough it out” until the next day. If you have serious concerns for your health or safety, call the property manager ASAP.

When to Try to Fix It Yourself

There are a number of non-emergencies that you can pretty much handle on your own. Most rental properties expect you to take care of basic maintenance items such as replacing light bulbs, filling nail holes, unclogging a sink drain or plunging a stopped-up toilet. If the situation is looking a little more serious and goes beyond your level of expertise to fix (e.g., severely clogged drains, large holes in the wall, etc.), your best bet is to call the property manager. Again, since there’s no immediate threat to your well-being in these situations, you can arrange to get it taken care of during normal business hours.