A Landlord's Guide to Handling Tenant Home Breakdowns

Step by Step Guide on Navigating Rental Property Maintenance

Rental maintenance issues range from circuit breakers tripping to the AC going out. This guide gives landlords email templates to address their tenants, along with repair estimates.

One of the most burdensome aspects of managing a rental  property is when systems and appliances break down. To assist with challenging communications around maintenance, we’ve developed this go-to guide for supporting your tenants through those hiccups – from specific email templates, professional guidance, and tips to keep things running smoothly while repairs are underway.

Save and refer to this guide when an issue arises – email templates are provided below for easy copy and pasting. If you have a pressing problem, use the links below to jump to the most relevant solution:

Don't want to manage breakdowns personally?
Armadillo Can Help

Prefer not to manage breakdowns personally? A landlord warranty, such as Armadillo, is a good option. Armadillo manages the logistics of tenants’ breakdowns with top-notch service providers and saves money on repairs and replacements.

The Circuit Beaker is Tripping

Circuits most commonly trip due to an electric overload. Here’s what to tell your tenants.

Email or Text Script

Subject: Urgent: Circuit Breaker Assistance

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

I hope this message finds you well. We’ve been alerted to an issue with the circuit breaker in your unit.

To address this promptly, we will schedule a licensed electrician to assess and rectify the situation.

They will coordinate with you to come within the next 2-5 business days to make the repair. In the meantime, kindly unplug power-intensive appliances and attempt to reset the breaker as needed.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Unplug power-intensive devices
  • Reset breaker if required
  • Await the electrician’s evaluation
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Remember to keep safety at the forefront. Neither you nor your tenants should touch any wires in an attempt to reset the circuit breaker.

Professional Needed & Cost

An electrician would be best for this job. Repair costs may range from $200-$300. Expected repair time is typically within one-10 business days.

The AC is Broken, But It’s Not Too Hot and There Are No At-risk Renters

With temperatures fluctuating wildly across the world, it’s crucial to know how to help your tenants through an AC breakdown.

Email or Text Script

Subject: AC Attention: Scheduled Maintenance

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

We have been made aware of the temporary AC disruption in your unit. To rectify this, a certified HVAC technician has been arranged to restore functionality. They will be onsite within 3 business days.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. In the meantime, consider opening windows for ventilation while the technician works to restore the system. Here are other tips for cooling down until the AC is fixed.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Ventilate the space by partially opening windows and following other cooling tips
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost

An HVAC technician can fix the AC unit. Repair expenses might range from $250 – $600, and replacement costs could range from $4,000 – $12,000. The anticipated resolution within three days for a quick repair, though a replacement can take up to 10 business days.

The AC is Broken and It’s Hot Out (or There Are At-risk Renters)

Having at-risk tenants, such as the elderly or people with disabilities, means getting the AC to work again is crucial.

Email or Text Script:

Subject: Urgent: Critical AC Intervention Required

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

In light of the escalating temperatures and to ensure the comfort of all residents, we have expedited an emergency AC service.

We are working diligently to dispatch an experienced HVAC team ASAP, but have an expected arrival of 2-3 business days.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. During this time, please prioritize hydration and seek cooler environments within your home.

Warm regards,

[Your Name]

Pro Tip:

We also recommend that landlords get a portable AC unit for situations like this. They are ~$250 and have wheels and a window venting connection, allowing renters to drain condensation out of the window. These small units are impressively cooling and are good to have to lend out in situations like this.

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Stay hydrated
  • Find cooler spots within their home
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost

You likely need emergency HVAC services with a certified HVAC technician. Repair expenses might range from $250 – $600. Replacement costs could range from $4,000 – $12,000. The anticipated resolution is within 3 days for a quick repair, or up to 10 business days for a replacement.

The Toilet is Running

No one likes the sound of a constantly running toilet – not to mention how much water it wastes! Here’s what to say to your tenants.

Email or Text Script

Subject: Attention Required: Toilet Resolution

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

We’ve received notification of a running toilet issue within your unit. Our dedicated plumbing specialist will address this concern during their visit, scheduled within 2 business days.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. In the meantime, kindly turn off the toilet’s water supply and minimize flushing until the issue is resolved.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Turn off toilet’s water supply
  • Limit flushing
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost

Call up your local plumber. Repair expenses will be about $150. Replacements, while not commonly needed, will cost about $500 – $700. The estimated time for resolution is within a few business days, depending on what parts are needed.

The Bathroom is Flooded

The first rule of dealing with floods? Making sure the scene is safe, meaning no plugged-in appliances are touching the water or any wet parts of the floor. From there, here’s what to communicate to your renters.

Email or Text Script

Subject: Urgent: Immediate Action for Bathroom Flooding

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

We have been made aware of an unforeseen bathroom flooding situation. Please take immediate action to turn off the water source if accessible and use absorbent materials to prevent further damage. Our specialized plumber is set to arrive today or tomorrow to assess and rectify the issue.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take.

In the meantime, please turn off the water source, remove excess water with a towel or mop, and elevate any items that are on the floor. If there is a window in your bathroom, please open it to encourage air circulation. This is essential to limiting further damage and potential mold growth.

Please keep us updated on any changes or developments regarding the situation. Your timely communication helps us coordinate the resolution more effectively.

Kind regards,

[Your Name]

Pro Tip:

We recommend giving them details on how to turn off the water source. This is an essential step to prevent further damage.

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • If the tenant can access the water source that’s contributing to the flooding (e.g., toilet, sink), ask them to turn it off to prevent additional water flow
  • Remove excess water with a towel or mop
  • If there are items on the floor that can be moved easily, elevate them to prevent water damage
  • Open windows and ventilate to aid drying
  • Communicate updates
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost

It’s time to phone your favorite plumber again. Repair expenses vary based on damage, but the plumber’s initial diagnosis will cost ~$150. There may be further damage to the floors or walls that require repair.

The Dishwasher is Broken

A broken dishwasher throws a wrench in a renter’s day-to-day routine. Here’s how to help.

Email or Text Script

Subject: Urgent: Dishwasher Service Required

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

We’ve received notice of your dishwasher malfunction. A skilled appliance technician will be dispatched to your residence within 2 business days to diagnose and possibly repair the issue.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. In the interim, consider manual dishwashing or disposable alternatives.

Warm regards,
[Your Name]

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Opt for manual dishwashing or disposable options
  • Keep the area clean. Remove any dishes from the dishwasher
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost

It’s time to bring in an appliance technician. Repair costs might range from $300 – $400. Replacement costs will start around $750 including installation and delivery. Expect a repair person to arrive within two business days to review the situation. They may be able to make the repair on-site during that first visit, but if parts need to be ordered, it could take five to seven business days to resolve.

The Refrigerator or Freezer Has Stopped Working

When the fridge or freezer goes out, tensions can heat up – so let’s look at how to keep things chill.

Email or Text Script

Subject: Refrigerator Issue: Swift Resolution Planned

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

We’ve been informed about the refrigerator concern in your unit. A skilled appliance technician will be dispatched to your residence within 2 business days to diagnose and possibly repair the issue.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. In the meantime, minimize how frequently you open the fridge door. You may want to use coolers with ice packs to store perishable items that are at risk of spoiling.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Pro Tip:

If you want to be an amazing landlord, drop off coolers with ice for your tenant to support them while their refrigerator is broken!

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Reduce fridge door usage
  • Consider using coolers with ice packs to store
  • Keep essential items like dairy products, meats, and other perishables in the cooler parts of the refrigerator, such as the top shelves
  • If the freezer is working, consider using the freezer compartment to store items that can be frozen and eaten later
  • Coordinate with on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost

This is another job for your loyal appliance technician. Repair costs might range from $300 – $400. Replacement costs will start around $750 including installation and delivery. Expect a repair person to arrive within two business days to review the situation. They may be able to make the repair on-site during that first visit, but if parts need to be ordered, it could take five to seven business days to resolve.

The Washer or Dryer Aren’t Functioning Properly

Going through a laundry cycle only to discover the washer or dryer aren’t working is stressful. Keep your renters in the loop with the messaging below.

Email or Text Script

Subject: Laundry Appliance Alert: Expert Assistance

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

It has come to our attention that your washer/dryer is experiencing difficulties. A skilled appliance technician will be dispatched to your residence within 2 business days to diagnose and possibly repair the issue.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. In the interim, please remove all items from the [whichever is broken]. If you need to do laundry, [name of laundromat] located at [address] is our local laundromat.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Tenant’s To-Dos

  • Remove all items from the broken appliance
  • Coordinate on scheduling

Professional Needed & Cost:

Call up your appliance technician again. Repair costs might range from $300 – $400. Replacement costs will start around $750 including installation and delivery. Expect a repair person to arrive within two business days to review the situation. They may be able to make the repair on-site during that first visit, but if parts need to be ordered, it could take five to seven business days to resolve.

The Microwave is Broken

A broken microwave may seem like a small issue, but that doesn’t mean you should treat it lightly. Here’s what to do.

Email or Text Script

Dear [Tenant’s Name],

We’ve been made aware of the microwave issue in your unit. A skilled appliance technician will be dispatched to your residence within 2 business days to diagnose and possibly repair the issue.

If replacement parts are necessary, we will order them and keep you posted on how long it will take. During this period, alternative cooking methods such as stovetop or oven could be utilized.

Warmly,

[Your Name]

Tenant’s To-Do

  • Keep the area clean
  • Do not try to touch any microwave wires

Professional Needed & Cost

Here’s another job for your appliance technician. Repair costs might range from $100 – $400. Replacement costs will range from $200 – $750 including install and delivery. Expect a repair person to arrive within two business days to review the situation. They may be able to make the repair on-site during that first visit, but if parts need to be ordered, it could take five to seven business days to resolve.

Pro Tip:

If you’re still building out your rental property management team, don’t skip over how to find a trusty handyperson.

With these comprehensive guidelines and templates, you’ll be well-equipped to handle various appliance breakdown scenarios. Your prompt and professional approach to resolving issues will contribute to the overall satisfaction of your tenants and the seamless operation of your property.

Want to be less actively involved in managing breakdowns for your properties and save money on repairs and replacements? Check out our landlord warranty partner Armadillo and see if their customizable plans are a fit for your properties.

NEWSLETTER SIGN UP

TheKey is the weekly newsletter for landlords, by landlords.

Subscribe to get tips, news, and hacks for even the most seasoned landlords.

Education

More Resources and Tips

Join the 550,000+ independent landlords who rely on TurboTenant to create welcoming rental experiences.

No tricks or trials to worry about. So what’s the harm? Try it today!