We're facing some of the hottest temperatures of the year this month, so when air conditioners break down or stop cooling apartments as they should, life can be rough. Understandably, tenants become irritated and impatient when their HVAC system isn't working as it should. So how do you handle breakages?
In California, landlords are required to provide adequate heat in the winter, but there are no requirements for providing air conditioning. That said, very few people want to live in a home without AC in the summer, so if you're including it in your lease, make sure you include language about repair responsibilities.
So what should those repair responsibilities be? Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management advocates for operating under the "golden rule." Just as we are taught as children, it's important to treat others the way we would like to be treated. So while it's totally legal to fix a tenant's air conditioning in a vague but "reasonable" amount of time, it's best to keep tenants in the loop about their timeline.
If the forecast has temperatures into the uppers 80s, 90s and beyond, it's best to shell out the cash as soon as possible to call in a repairman. You risk angering your tenant if you don't. While you'll be within your legal right to wait, you face potentially nasty reviews from them on social media. The last thing any landlord wants to be accused of is being apathetic!
Instead, fix the AC in a timely manner. Not only will you prevent harsh reviews from being posted, you may in fact win over your tenants in a new way. Turn a negative into an opportunity to prove what a great place to live your community truly is. Most people understand that air conditioners break and will be reasonable in their expectations for repairs. Bowl them over by going above and beyond and fixing their AC as soon as possible. This is how you create truly appreciative tenants who are incredibly grateful for your help.
If they ask how they can repay your kindness, simply ask them to tell their friends about how much they love living in your community!
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management
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