Apartments are pretty complex places, and things are bound to go wrong from time to time. So, how's a renter to know when it's appropriate to file a routine maintenance request or opt instead to press the proverbial “red button" to summon emergency assistance?
At this point, it's important to note that the coronavirus pandemic has caused many apartment complexes to shift gears and only offer maintenance services for true emergencies at this time. It's an inconvenience for sure but it's being done to keep residents and maintenance workers as safe as possible.
The concept of what qualifies as emergency maintenance can seem convoluted to the uninformed tenant, but it actually isn't. Basically, if the issue at hand presents a safety issue or potential for property damage, call for emergency maintenance post haste. If not, wait until regular business hours resume.
Instead, opt to either fix the problem yourself, if possible, or fill out a non-urgent maintenance request for an issue of this sort.
Ideally, when you first move in, management will provide detailed instructions on how to make emergency and general maintenance requests. If they don't, be sure to ask and keep the info somewhere it's readily accessible to you.
Most apartments will have a 24-hour phone line for emergencies. Only use this if you're really and truly in a serious situation (as described above).
For general maintenance, some apartments rely on voice mail or old-school paper request forms. Many others have made the leap to digital requests. Check with your management team or hit up the property's web site to find out which yours uses.
Even the best property managers can't anticipate every problem. They're simply not in your space day in and day out the way that you are. So, your role as a tenant is critical. Keep a watchful eye on appliances, look out for anything amiss and take steps before a small issue becomes a big, fat one.