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What Qualifies as an Emergency Maintenance Request?

Dublin Tenant Holding a Bucket Under a LeakMost Framingham property managers know that you need to respond immediately when a tenant calls with an emergency maintenance request. But which maintenance requests are emergencies, calling for immediate attention, and which are less urgent? This is one of the more challenging questions that property owners face since some issues, even those that cause discomfort or inconvenience, are not true emergencies. On the other hand, other maintenance issues are serious enough to be addressed immediately or risk violating Landlord/Tenant laws or habitability code. Knowing the difference between the two can help you manage all of your tenant’s maintenance requests with confidence.

Defining Emergency Repairs

Only one way to discover 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 question that would meet this definition would typically be considered an emergency. Common emergencies include:

  • 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 important to understand that certain maintenance items may be emergencies under one set of conditions but not another. For example, a broken air conditioner is not an emergency during cool weather. But in a heatwave, where temperatures reach dangerous levels, it absolutely is. 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 especially true if your inaction prompts your tenant to take matters into their own hands and coordinate or make the repairs themselves.

Non-Emergency Maintenance Types

On the other hand, other maintenance issues that, while problematic, are not generally considered emergencies unless there are extenuating circumstances. For example, a malfunctioning appliance, no hot water, or minor leaks may be troublesome for your tenant but usually 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, understanding what constitutes an emergency maintenance issue and how to respond appropriately is a big part of effective property management. If you find you cannot respond to such requests quickly or have other demands on your time, it might be time to hire a quality Davie property management company to do it for you. To learn more about what Real Property Management MetroWest-Worcester offers rental property owners like you, contact us online.

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