That is easy—911…but who do you call when you are on the beach in Acapulco and the water heater at your investment property dies? Or more importantly, who do your tenants call when the water heater dies and you are out of cell phone range? Do you have a plan and/or people in place so you can take vacation and confidently leave the properties alone?
With some simple preparations, you can easily slip out-of-town and relax knowing your investment properties are in good hands.
Preparation prior to vacation:
- Have all your service & emergency calls routed through the same phone number. You can then change the voice-mail message when you are out of cell phone coverage or just want to “unplug”.
- Consider mounting permanent lock-boxes to the door frames of each unit. Alternatively, you can put an extra set of keys for an entire building into a locked store-room or mechanical room and then put a key for just that room into a lock-box at the building.
- Compile a list of all contractors and handymen that you use on a regular basis. Make sure they are listed in your cell phone.
- Identify a “vacation buddy” who will take calls and manage any emergencies that may arise when you are away. This may be your caretaker or your handyman, but it may be a parent, friend, or relative. Make sure they understand your business. Take them on a tour of your properties (print out a map with addresses!).
- If you don’t have a caretaker at a building, at least identify a tenant that you trust to give you an honest assessment of a situation if they are the only eyes on site.
When you are away on vacation (where you can’t receive cell phone calls):
- Either change your greeting on your phone to give the callers the name and number of who to call for maintenance, emergency, and leasing questions or have your vacation buddy check your voice-mail periodically throughout the day.
- Be firm with your tenants and/or vacation buddy that any non-urgent requests must simply wait until you return.
- Print out a list of your contractors and handymen that you use as well as your tenant’s contact information and leave it with your vacation buddy. Make sure your vacation buddy feels comfortable relying on the expertise and advice of your contractors.
- Leave your keys with your vacation buddy and/or make sure s/he has the combinations to your lock-boxes at the properties.
- Give your vacation buddy funds (a credit card) to pay for emergency items while you are gone.
- If you just can’t stand to unplug for a long period of time, pre-arrange a call date and time with your vacation buddy to check in.
- Give your vacation buddy your travel schedule and your emergency contact phone numbers (if you building really does burn down, you would want to know immediately).
- Take copies of your tenant phone list and contractor/handyman phone list with you so in an emergency you could help your vacation buddy with who to call or make calls yourself.
These preparations are good practice whether you are going to grandma’s house 100 miles away or to Acapulco for an extended vacation. They will keep your assets protected, your tenants happy, and your vacation more pleasant.