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What Is Apartment Maintenance?

October 29, 2020

What Is Apartment Maintenance?

Apartment maintenance refers to activities that keep residential facilities safe, habitable, and enjoyable. It includes cleaning, groundskeeping, pest control, plumbing, HVAC repairs, and landscaping, among other tasks. Maintenance technicians, apartment supervisors, and apartment managers oversee these routine tasks.

Overview

Property owners must ensure their buildings are safe, comfortable, and habitable. Apartment maintenance plays a large role in achieving this goal. Maintenance technicians perform both reactive maintenance activities, as requested by tenants, and preventive maintenance tasks, as recommended by manufacturer guidelines and government municipalities. 

However, both state and local laws require landlords to satisfy “basic habitability requirements,” such as providing adequate weatherproofing, heat, water, electricity, ventilation, and structural safety at all times. Additionally, most cities also require the installation and inspection of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. 

Apartment maintenance teams should respond to emergency service requests—plumbing, air conditioning, and heating—within 24 hours to avoid legal issues and keep tenants happy. 

With that said, the daily responsibilities of an apartment maintenance worker are constantly fluctuating. According to the National Apartment Association 2019 survey, garden apartment owners spend 9 percent of their operating expenses on maintenance and repairs, while mid- and high-rise apartments spend 6 percent of their expenditure on maintenance. 

What Do Apartment Maintenance Workers Do? 

Most apartment maintenance workers are employed on a full-time basis. Many of them remain “on-call” to handle emergency maintenance requests. Workers rely on a wide variety of skills to perform an array of facility maintenance tasks, like:

  • Ensuring structures are secure, including floors, stairs, walls, and roofs.
  • Power-washing concrete driveways, hallways, and stairways.
  • Preventing and exterminating rodent, termite, and insect infestations. 
  • Deep cleaning swimming pools, gymnasiums, and common areas. 
  • Routinely inspecting apartment assets for workability. 
  • Maintaining electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems. 

As one might expect, no day’s work looks the same. On Monday, the job may involve replacing worn doorknobs, oiling squeaky hinges, and replacing a damaged floorboard. Whereas Tuesday may involve changing air filters before troubleshooting an emergency work order request for a burst pipe.

Workers rely on several tools to complete tasks. These include flashlights, pliers, tape measures, screwdrivers, duct tape, non-contact voltage testers, and drywall repair kits, among others.

What Do Apartment Maintenance Managers Do? 

Apartment maintenance managers build facility maintenance teams based on their average number of open work orders and the average time to complete them. A general hiring ratio is two technicians per 100 units. The manager’s primary responsibility is planning, scheduling, and strategizing maintenance tasks. 

In some cases, maintenance managers are also responsible for fulfilling work orders themselves. Facilities with less than 100 units commonly hire a “Jack of all trades.” However, those overseeing apartment technicians assign work orders, coordinate preventive maintenance tasks, and look for cost-savings opportunities. 

What Do Apartment Supervisors Do? 

Large facilities that have several maintenance technicians need a maintenance supervisor. Apartment supervisors issue maintenance checklists, oversee the completion of daily tasks, and ensure safety standards are met. 

Maintenance managers and supervisors rely on Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) to receive and schedule maintenance requests from tenants. CMMS also help to assign work orders, share progress among maintenance personnel, and monitor inventory levels.

Examples of Apartment Maintenance

Different types of facilities that rely on apartment maintenance include:

●   Garden Apartments: These are ground-floor apartments with a lawn or a garden. Garden apartments need maintenance to keep the lawns or gardens neat and beautiful.

●   High-Rise Apartments: High-rise apartments usually have at least 12 stories. They require elevators for easy access. The elevators require preventive maintenance to stay in good working condition.

●   Walk-Ups: These are storied apartments without elevators. Tenants access the upper floors by stairs. The stairs should be clean and in good condition to avoid accidental falls. They should also have good lighting for easy visibility.

●   Duplexes: Apartments located on two separate floors or share a wall are referred to as duplexes. They may share a single kitchen and dining room, but the floors may have separate entries. Maintenance helps to keep the common areas clean and tidy.

●   Triplexes: Triplexes are apartments that are divided into three self-contained residences. Each unit requires maintenance to ensure that everything is in good working order.

●   Lofts: Lofts are large, open rooms with few walls, large windows, and high ceilings. They usually feel uncrowded and airy. Most lofts are former industrial and factory buildings that were converted into residential buildings. Lofts need proper maintenance to retain their aesthetic value.

●   Studio Apartments: Studio apartments are self-contained spaces with everything in a single room except the bathroom. Because they are a small one-room space, studio apartments don’t require as extensive maintenance as other types of apartments.

Tenants are responsible for maintaining the condition of their apartments. Most lease agreements indicate maintenance tasks that fall under the tenant’s responsibility. Some routine tasks, such as replacing apartment light bulbs, are the responsibility of the tenant.

What is Considered an Emergency for Apartment Maintenance?

Property owners should take a preventative maintenance (PM) approach to apartment maintenance to reduce the need for emergency maintenance as much as possible. Common preventative maintenance activities include arranging for garbage removal, mowing lawns, replacing air filters, clearing yard waste, and maintaining utility systems. However, problems are bound to occur even with the best PM measures in place.

Emergency apartment maintenance refers to activities undertaken to repair assets with critical functions such as toilets, plumbing system, and HVAC units. Because tenants heavily rely on these items for comfort and safety, any issues must be remedied ASAP. 

Additional problems requiring emergency maintenance include mold, water leaks, gas leaks, broken doors and windows, and electrical problems. Tenants should be encouraged to notify management of such issues as soon as they are noticed. Regular inspections can also help to identify problems. Most lease agreements include procedures for reporting and handling emergency maintenance.

What Is the Easiest Way to Schedule Apartment Maintenance Tasks? 

The best way to schedule apartment maintenance tasks is with the help of a CMMS. It makes it easy to receive work requests from tenants, analyze the requests, and assign work orders to technicians. CMMS helps maintenance teams focus more on the actual tasks instead of paperwork.

CMMS software can streamline maintenance tasks by providing a central database in which resources are organized and work orders assigned to maintenance technicians. 

According to Plant Engineering, spreadsheets (55%) and CMMS software (53%) are the most used technologies for managing maintenance in industrial and manufacturing facilities. In recent years, cloud-based CMMS software has become increasingly affordable, putting its use within reach for even the smallest maintenance teams. However,  most apartment maintenance teams still rely on a combination of spreadsheets, paper work orders, and white boards for task management. 

Apartment Maintenance Certifications and Training

The minimum requirement for most apartment maintenance technician roles is a high school diploma. The job only requires entry-level experience. However, complex tasks may require the technician to be accredited and licensed. Training and certification programs available for apartment maintenance technicians include:

  • CAMT Certification: Maintenance technicians with one year of apartment maintenance experience qualify for this certification by the National Apartment Association (NAA). It covers fair housing regulation compliance, work order processing, painting services, electrical services, and HVAC services, among other apartment maintenance areas.
  • NAHMT or NAHMS Credentials: These programs by the National Affordable Housing Management Association(NAHMA) target maintenance technicians and supervisors, respectively. They help them adhere to industry standards in their work.

The Apartment Maintenance Institute also has training courses that equip workers with the necessary skills in areas such as plumbing and electrical repair.

Other Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Become an Apartment Maintenance Technician?

As previously mentioned, most maintenance technician positions require a high school diploma and entry-level experience. Skills needed for apartment maintenance include the ability to operate hand tools, customer service skills, and troubleshooting skills. Additionally, workers should have high physical stamina because tasks can be labor-intensive and involve heavy lifting.

How Much Do Apartment Maintenance Workers Make? 

According to Payscale, apartment maintenance technicians earn about $36,799 per year. The average hourly rate for apartment technicians is $16.12. According to Payscale, Bell Partners pays the highest rates in the industry at $18 per hour. The apartment investment and management company has nearly 60,000 units under management and is one of the largest apartment renovators in the industry.

Do Apartment Maintenance Workers Get Rent Free? 

Very few properties offer free rent for maintenance workers. However, maintenance workers sometimes get a rent discount of up to 15 percent when offered an apartment on the property. Apartment managers who get an apartment that also serves as their office pay income tax on their rent compensation.

Conclusion

Apartment maintenance is key to keeping multifamily residences neat, functional, and safe. It includes tasks such as cleaning, plumbing, painting, and electrical repairs, among others. Maintenance technicians perform routine preventive maintenance to ensure that building systems aren’t compromised. They work under the supervision of maintenance supervisors or managers.

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