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If it goes missing…6 Simple Steps to Avoid the “Maintenance Took It” Syndrome

If it goes missing…6 Simple Steps to Avoid the “Maintenance Took It” Syndrome

No one actually loses anything anymore.  Maintenance took it.

So if you can’t find your gold ring that you KNOW you left right on the table, it can’t be your memory or that you misplaced it.  Or if you are a beer short in your refrigerator, it can’t be that your teenager sneaked it while you were out.  Or if you left change on your dresser and it’s gone, or if the blinds are moved, or any other of a list of other things, it has to be that Maintenance did it. 

I even remember one resident who stopped up her commode late one night, and then fussed at me because Ben (SUPER Maintenance Supervisor) supposedly used her towels to clean up the after-hours overflow.  It was actually towels he brought to the scene of the crime, and she neglected to apologize for accusing Ben. 

Our maintenance team is so vulnerable, so it’s important to hire well, train well, and then protect your maintenance team from accusation.  Some ways Maintenance Professionals can do that are:

·       Keep track of any keys to apartment homes that leave the office and when they are returned

·       Document how long you are in the apartment on a particular work request

·       Don’t go in any part of the home you don’t need to

·       Don’t move anything you don’t need to

·       Always put a “Maintenance Is here” door hanger on the door handle while you’re inside

·       Leave the resident  a clear description of what work was completed, and whether or not you’ll have to return to complete anything

There’s an expression I like that says to avoid the appearance of evil.  Maintenance professionals can avoid that appearance by taking these steps.  Any other ideas you have on this controversial topic? Please share them!

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great article and so true. There are ways to get around as much of this happening! Like the door hanger idea and wish everyone would do this. In fact, as a resident, I think I'd appreciate it and know not to be surprised as I walked in!

  Kelly Cox
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Thanks for feedback, Kelly!

  Mary Gwyn
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There is some pretty cool software out there for a number of these concepts. Some easily track "the thing" everything (when/where who & what) or maybe it was actually just loaned to the resident and they forgot. Some new software applications (easily accessible on every device) can send both parties reminders by SMS and/or email to bring it back (even remind them to bring it back by SMS/email).

I was just chatting with a property manager in Orlando about why his maintenance team wanted to buy 12 more shop vacuums and some carpet drying blowers... because most are now lost in random units or were never returned - and when he asked, no one actually "lost" them, they just didn't get them back.

In addition to the hurt feelings that pointing fingers causes (resident and maintenance), there's a ton of wasted time in actually figuring out the truth; assuming you can figure it out, or have the time to do so!

  Craig Meddin
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Great points, Craig! And we don't have time to waste, so tracking through software and apps is definitely the better way! Any you've worked with and recommend?

  Mary Gwyn
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Well, we built one, so yes I am partial to it (and it integrates with some of the big property management software players too). TrackItLog was built for exactly the purpose you're describing.

We kept hearing clients share stories about the last key to the roof, the ONE volleyball, the shared iPad gone missing, etc. It doesn't sound important, but when that stuff goes missing, it can be very annoying for everyone.

  Craig Meddin
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Thanks, Craig.

  Mary Gwyn
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In my thirty year career of being a maintenance person I have only once been accused of stealing from a tenant. He lost a cup of change and it turns out he had a "teenage son" living with him that I suspect did the dirty deed but of course there was no "apology". Tenants don't seem to realize how devastating an accusation like this could be to a worker's livelihood.

  Rusty Grant San Diego County Property Management
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Rusty, so glad you only had it happen once! And you are right, it is extra devastating because there is almost no way to prove your innocence! it's like the old question, "Have you beaten your wife lately?" Thanks for commenting!

  Mary Gwyn
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There are some residents who are more accusatory than others. In my experience it may be best for 1) two maintenance persons to cover that person's ticket- faster in and out and or 2) require the resident to be home while their apartment is being serviced.

  Dan
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Dan, good points. I have heard of a slowly growing trend toward requiring all residents to be home. The tough thing about that is one of the benefits we sell about renting is you don't have to miss work and stay home for the technician. But it's hard to accuse the tech of stealing if you're right there while they do the work! Thanks for your comments!

  Mary Gwyn
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Such a great article, Mary.

  Gainesville Apartments

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