How does Empire Industries handle work orders when they’re submitted through by a tenant?
Before we dispatch a vendor, our team goes through a series of checks. First thing we check is we make a determination: is this cosmetic in nature or does it have an impact to the functionality of the home? If the answer is it’s cosmetic and it has no impact then we deny that work order, that submission. We’ll talk to you, the owner, to determine if you want to go ahead and move forward with it. It becomes your choice.
The next thing we do is we determine if the work order was created through our portal. That’s important because we don’t want to take work orders over the phone. One, legally, through the lease, we’re not allowed to. But more importantly, we never want to get to a “he said, she said” so we want everything documented. Through our portal, everything is date-stamped, time-stamped, and they’re writing exactly what they want or what is wrong with the home.
The next thing we look at is we determine: does our owner have a home warranty or do they have a vendor that has a warranty on specific products? We look at that so we know who to dispatch. We look if there’s past due rent. Per law, we do not have to handle any maintenance if a resident has past due rent.
Our policy as a company is to handle anything that’s an emergency. If it’s something that can affect the health and safety of an ordinary tenant, per Texas Property Code, then we go ahead and we handle it, whether we don’t have or not; mainly because of two reasons: one is if it’s an emergency, usually that means it’s going to create more damage to your home. But second and more importantly is if it’s an emergency, even though legally we do not have to solve that challenge if they owe rent, what happens at the courthouse could be different. Believe it or not, judges make their own rules sometimes when they’re in the courthouse, and the last thing we want is a judge who just decides that he’s got a bleeding heart, and he files in favor of a resident, even though we’re evicting that resident. Even if we have an eviction, we do handle emergency work orders. We look at past due rent. If it’s not an emergency work order, we will deny it until they pay rent.
Then we do troubleshooting. We have a team. They go to classes and they learn about this maintenance, and they’re doing troubleshooting. So they know to look at the brake or they know to look at the reset button on the garbage disposal. They know to look at the GFCIs. They do some troubleshooting before they dispatch.
The last thing is we’re looking to see if it’s a recurring issue. Has this issue happened again? If so, then we know that we need to go ahead and dispatch the same vendor because most likely there’s some kind of warranty with that vendor.
When Empire gets a work order request, we don’t just dispatch. We are doing a bunch of checks before we dispatch. We have denied over 10-11% of our claims, and we troubleshoot and solve some of them, a small percentage, before we even dispatch. That’s how we handle when a tenant puts in a claim. Just to let you know, you have a good partner with Empire. We don’t just dispatch every time we get a work order. But we have your back and we are looking out for your best interests.
Pete Neubig, Co-founder and CEO of Empire Industries Property Management