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5 Emergency Contacts Every Landlord Needs to Have, According to Scott McGillivray

5 Emergency Contacts Every Landlord Needs to Have, According to Scott McGillivray

As a landlord you are responsible for the safety and maintenance of the building you’re managing. And in an emergency situation the last thing you want to be doing is comparing company quotes and checking out online reviews. So I highly recommend that you do the work ahead of time and build up your contact list. When your tenant comes to you with an issue, you’ll know who to call.


1) If your tenant complains of a buzzing sound or lights flickering, you need an Electrician.

Sometimes lights flickering or buzzing sounds can come from lightbulbs, but in other cases it’s something much more sinister. The most serious cause is loose wiring, and it’s a common source of house fires. I don’t care how skilled you think you are, unless you’re a licensed electrician you should never try to fix electrical problems on your own in order to save money. Sure, simple projects like installing dimmer switches can be tackled by competent DIYers, but anything where you’re dealing with electrical systems is for professionals only.

2) If your tenant hears a gurgling sound and the drains and/or toilet backup you need a Plumber.

There are some plumbing issues that can easily be tackled on your own. Leaky faucets and even replacing toilets are on this list, but if your tenants complain about a gurgling sound and the toilets and/or drains are clogged, you’ll want to get a plumber in to have a look right away. It could be indicative of a sewer drain clog. Or if they hear water running in the walls it could be a burst pipe. Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with these issues, but if you do you’ll be glad you have a reliable plumber in your contacts.

3) If a fridge starts leaking or a dryer stops drying clothes you need an Appliance Repair Person.


If you can break out an owner’s manual and troubleshoot a simple repair, great, you’ll save yourself some money. However, if you can’t fix something quickly and efficiently you need a reliable repair person who can come right away. Remember, this isn’t your own home and you’ve got paying tenants whose lives are being disrupted. The cost of getting things fixed quickly outweighs the cost of having a frustrated tenant. And there’s also a safety factor. A dryer that no longer dries clothes efficiently could be indicative of a blockage in the vent, which could start a serious fire if not dealt with.

4) If a tenant changes the locks you need a Locksmith.

There are all kinds of reasons you should have a locksmith in your contacts:

  • A key breaks in the lock
  • The lock freezes
  • The tenant loses their keys and you’ve already given them the spare

As a landlord you should always have an extra set of keys so that you can access the unit in an emergency, but let’s face it, sometimes things get lost or not replaced quickly enough. And in some cases the tenants actually change the locks. If any of these things happen and you need quick access to the unit you’ll want a trustworthy locksmith with 24-hour service.

5) If you have general repair and maintenance issues you need a Handyman.

If you’re a landlord with serious DIY skills, you might not think this one is necessary, but you should never underestimate the importance of having a reliable all-purpose handyman (or woman) in your contacts. All kinds of things can happen that you may not be able to deal with either due to time issues or skill level. A stair railing could break, a floorboard could come up, you might need to fix a backsplash or have the gutters cleaned. There is no end to the number of projects a general handyperson can help with, and when you’re responsible for the safe and efficient running of rental units, reliable help is worth its weight in gold.

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.


Images courtesy of iStock Photo and Getty Images

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