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It Was an Emergency. At Least to Me.

When you signed your lease you were given emails, phone numbers and business hours for your landlord or property management company. And probably also an emergency number unless you’re renting from Mom and Pop. When can you call that number and what is an emergency?

Let’s start with what is not an emergency:

  • Locking yourself out or losing your keys is your emergency, not ours. During regular business hours you can contact your landlord and get a key to copy and return. After business hours you need to find a friend’s couch to sleep on. If you know you’re prone to this issue get yourself a hide-a-key or a lockbox with an extra key. Or know lots of friends with cushy couches.
  • A break in your sprinkler line is not an emergency.
  • Skunks outside your apartment is not an emergency.

Some emergencies require a 911 call:

  • Fire? Call 911. Your landlord is not a fireman.
  • Smell gas? Call the gas company.
  • Neighbors partying at 2 a.m.? Call the police.

I had a tenant from a property I don’t personally manage and was not intimately familiar with call me on Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, an hour before the game telling me she couldn’t open her bathroom door. Thankfully she was not inside the bathroom. I knew she had recently moved in and it was a rainy weekend so I told her most likely the wooden door had swollen with humidity or perhaps was sticking from the recent paint job. She insisted that it just wasn’t budging and she would need to use it before the next morning. I called a trusty handyman who promised to check it out–after the game. He texted me later that the tenant has a roommate who has her own bathroom and she didn’t want to use the roommate’s facilities. Um, that’s not an emergency.

Emergencies you can call your landlord for are primarily plumbing related and would be things like: uncontrolled gushing water (not a drippy faucet) and a backed up toilet in a unit with only one toilet. Most everything else is a 911 call or can wait until Monday morning.