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How to Handle Emergencies When Renting a Single-Family Home

emergency repairs

If you were renting a single-family home and found yourself in an emergency situation, would you know what to do?

Typically, a property manager can’t help you with emergencies…at least not in the moment. If you call a property manager first, you could slow down the rescue process and put yourself in greater danger.

It’s your job to figure out what type of emergency you have and respond accordingly.


  1. Respond to the danger first.
  • Act immediately by calling the appropriate authority. The issue is occurring with you, so you should be the one contacting the authorities to explain what is happening.
  • 911 handles immediate life-threatening emergencies. Others to call directly might include: the police, the water department, the fire department, the gas company, the electric company or other city department.
  1. Contact the property manager after the danger has passed.
  • Flooding, fire, and bad weather can cause damage inside and outside a home. If you don’t let the property manager know about the damage in a timely manner, the problem can’t be resolved. If you wait, you could be responsible for paying for all repairs.


  • You’ll receive a fast, safe resolution to the immediate issue. Fire fighters, water employees, police officers have the training to handle your call for help.
  • You’ll establish a paper trail that could eliminate charges for damages. Some property management companies will ask for your copy of the event report handed to you by the police, electric company or first responder. That report could help establish the nature of the problem and keep you from being charged for repairs.


It may seem silly in the moment, but reporting even the smallest issue is necessary and could get you off the hook. Everything from a neighbor throwing rocks or balls and breaking a window to broken locks and screens from a successful or attempted burglary to random gun fire and stray fireworks that hit the property you occupy should be reported. Remember, without the report in hand, you could get charged for repair costs.


  1. Flooding from a plumbing leak inside the home.

FIX: Shut off the water. Then call the property manager.

  1. Air conditioner and heating equipment not working properly.

FIX: Make sure your air filter is clean (if you have a central unit) and the settings haven’t been changed.

  1. Broken garbage disposals.

FIX: Check for a reset button on the unit under the sink and follow the instructions.

For more fast fixes, see our list of repair videos here.


Always make a repair request for these items whether they were caused by an emergency or not:

  • Broken appliances, faulty smoke alarms, used or out of date fire extinguishers.
  • Standing or running water
  • Broken or missing screens; broken, damaged or inoperable fencing, gates, garage doors, interior and exterior doors, windows; broken heating and cooling equipment.
  • Fire damage
  • Nonworking outlets, switches and lights.

*ALWAYS read your lease and understand what your responsibilities are in the eyes of your landlord/property managerLease agreements are binding legal documents.

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