How to Find the Perfect Apartment Maintenance Technician
12 minutes read
When you work in property management, keeping your tenants happy is everything. And, when a problem or issue arises, you have to address it without delay.
Leaky faucets. Refrigerators on the fritz. Air conditioning units that don’t cool. Heating units that don’t warm up …
It happens to tenants everywhere. From multifamily apartment buildings to large apartment communities that house hundreds of tenants.
When they do happen, you’ll need to have someone on staff to remedy those issues and make repairs.
Are you looking to replace your current maintenance tech or add another maintenance pro to your staff?
This is the property manager’s complete guide to finding the perfect apartment maintenance technician.
What Type of Maintenance Technician Do You Need?
Even if your needs are immediate, don’t rush and post a generic job opening online. Instead, take some time to think about what specific type of technician you need.
Setting your expectations ahead of time will allow you to create a detailed and thorough list of job responsibilities. And, the more comprehensive the job posting, the easier it’ll be to attract the most suitable candidates for the job.
What Do You Need Your Tech To Do?
First, decide what you want your maintenance tech to do.
Do you need someone to handle heavy-duty carpentry projects? Electrical wiring or major plumbing repairs? Do you want your maintenance tech to have extensive knowledge of HVAC systems?
If so, you’ll need licensed and certified experts who have the specific experience to do the job. In this case, you may not need to hire a maintenance tech at all. A building superintendent or maintenance supervisor would better fit your needs.
If you’re looking for someone to do preventative maintenance and handle general upkeep, a general maintenance tech is the best option. Projects like painting, minor plumbing repairs, and common appliance repairs don’t require certification or in-depth experience.
It’s also important to decide if you want to hire a full-time employee, a part-time employee, or a freelance employee that you can call on as needed.
Full-Time, Part-Time, or Freelance: Which Is Better?
When hiring a maintenance tech, you have three options:
A Full-Time Employee
A full-time employee will cost you more in both salary and benefits. But you’ll also have peace of mind knowing that you have a regular employee you can depend on who works consistent hours.
A Part-Time Employee
A part-time employee may be all you need if you’re looking to add a maintenance technician to catch up on backlogged maintenance requests. Or to ease the burden on your existing maintenance team.
With a part-time employee, you won’t have to pay benefits.
A freelance tech that works as an independent contractor is almost always the most cost-effective option. That's because you won’t have to pay employee taxes, provide health insurance, or offer any benefits whatsoever.
But a freelance technician won’t be your employee, so they can dictate what days or hours they’re willing to work.
You're ready to post your job once you've decided on:
The credentials you need
The exact tasks you want your tech to handle
How many hours you'd need them to work each week
But where do you find these experts?
Where To Look for an Apartment Maintenance Technician
There are three great places to advertise a job posting for a new apartment maintenance technician:
Online Job Boards
Online job boards, such as Indeed and Simply Hired, will get your job the most exposure. But because they get so much attention, you’ll need to make sure your job posting is as detailed as possible.
Include a clear and concise job title. For example, “apartment maintenance technician." Then, add a complete job description that details the responsibilities and required experience.
Be sure to select entry-level or mid-level experience. This strategy can help weed out under-qualified or over-qualified candidates.
Ask for tenant referrals. Or post apartment maintenance technician job opportunities on message boards around your complex.
You could have a current tenant with a friend or relative in the business. Or one might know a great tech from their last apartment complex.
As an incentive to attract top talent, offer your tenants a small discount on rent if you hire a tech they refer.
Your Own Complex’s Website
Don’t forget to post any available job opportunities in your building on your apartment’s website.
If your building has a great reputation or is one of the newer complexes in town, experienced maintenance techs searching for a new position may look to your site to see if you’re hiring.
Traits To Look For in an Apartment Maintenance Technician
When interviewing candidates, there’s more to consider than whether the candidate is handy and knows how to use tools.
Look for these traits during interviews:
The best maintenance techs are versatile and have skills in various areas. At the very least, techs should know how to perform basic plumbing, electrical, and HVAC repairs.
During your interviews, look for someone that demonstrates adaptability.
Say you’re hiring a tech to work under a maintenance supervisor or maintenance manager. In that case, your ideal tech would have the skill and experience needed to work unsupervised. But they should also be willing to learn new skills under supervision.
Don’t assume that because someone has experience renovating their own home, they’ll make an excellent maintenance tech.
The best techs in the industry have more than just DIY skills.
Maintenance techs also need to know how to juggle work orders and handle service requests. It’s best to hire someone who has property maintenance experience in apartment complexes or office buildings.
The level of education required comes down to personal preference.
Some property managers ask that maintenance techs hold at least a high school diploma. Others prefer to see their techs pursue continuing education in a trade or have some college credits under their belt.
No matter what level of education you ask for, be sure to include it in your job posting to eliminate candidates who don’t meet your criteria.
Tenants depend on maintenance techs to keep their apartments safe and secure. So you’ll need a tech that demonstrates both dependability and integrity.
One way to gauge integrity is to do a thorough criminal background check (which you should do for everyone you hire, no matter what the job entails).
Never put your tenants in a position to interact with staff members with a history of being untrustworthy.
An Understanding of Safety Regulations
Everyone on your team should have a solid understanding of current safety regulations. They also need to stay up-to-date with new safety regulations as they come out.
Safety regulations will always come first, even with simple tasks such as painting or changing locks. That's especially true for tasks known to be dangerous, like working with water pipes, electrical systems, and HVAC.
Questions To Ask When Interviewing Maintenance Techs
Not sure which questions to ask when interviewing apartment service technician candidates?
Here are some direct questions that will help you decide whether the candidate is the right fit for your job opportunity:
Do You Have Experience Working for a Multi-Unit Complex?
Experience maintaining a single property is different from having maintenance experience in a multi-unit complex. The more units on the property, the more demanding the job can be.
Unfortunately, DIY experience isn’t enough.
Look for a tech with rental property experience who knows how to juggle several work orders at a time.
Do You Have Customer Service Experience?
Maintenance techs will interact with tenants from time to time. That means they need strong customer service and communication skills.
Take the case of a fire, flood, leak, or other emergency situation. Your maintenance tech must know how to speak to tenants in a way that calms them down and puts them at ease.
How Do You Prioritize Maintenance Requests?
In most scenarios, the property manager or maintenance supervisor will dictate the flow of work orders based on what’s most important. But your maintenance techs should have an understanding of this as well.
For example, they should know that fixing a broken garbage disposal is far less urgent than replacing a broken pipe or stopping a leak.
How Far From the Property Do You Live?
Emergencies can arise at any time, including in the middle of the night. That's why it’s essential that your maintenance tech lives near the complex and can be on-site within a few minutes.
The closer they are, the better.
Are You Willing To Be On-Call if Necessary?
You need to provide service to tenants 24/7.
Depending on how many people on your maintenance staff, you may be able to rotate shifts. Even if that’s your plan, ensure your new hire is willing to do on-call shifts when need be.
How Would You Handle a Task That You Don’t Know How To Do?
The goal of every maintenance request is the safe and successful completion of that task. Of course, taking initiative is always a good thing. Yet, a great tech will also recognize when they’re in over their head.
The best techs understand the importance of reaching out for help and asking for help from a senior staff member. Or know when to bring in a licensed, outside contractor to do the job.
The way a job candidate answers this question will give you great insight into their problem-solving skills.
Do You Have References?
Regardless of the job title or experience level you desire, always request references and check those references. Run a background check, too.
Tenant safety is the most important thing as a property manager.
You’ll need to be thorough when vetting employees, no matter what position they hold. This part is even more critical when hiring maintenance technicians who may access master keys and tenant units.
Should You Hire One Tech, or Do You Need an Entire Team?
Not sure if you need one maintenance technician or if you need to hire an entire team? It all depends on how many tenants you have and what promises you’ve made to them.
Have you promised your tenants same-day repairs? Then, there’s a good chance you’ll need more than one technician.
Do you guarantee “within the week” repairs? If so, one or two techs may be all you need.
Let’s take a look at a few things worth considering:
Jobs Requiring Several Experts
Remember that jobs that call for heavy lifting, such as installing refrigerators or washer/dryer combos, may need two people. At the least, you’ll need two maintenance technicians to perform these tasks.
The Habits of Your Tenants
Another way to gauge how many people to hire is to assess tenant habits.
Take a look at how many work orders you receive in a week and how many hours of labor go into completing each job.
Add in how many hours your current techs spend on general property upkeep and maintaining common areas.
If the number is more than 40 hours, you’ll want more than one full-time tech.
The Current Members of Your Staff
The number of maintenance techs required also depends on what other staff you have in place.
Do you already have a grounds crew to handle outdoor upkeep and lawn care?
If so, you may be able to get away with fewer maintenance technicians to handle indoor tasks.
The Size of Your Complex
Preparing for a brand new property launch and don’t have historical work order data to rely on?
Maintenance professionals often recommend starting with two techs per 100 units, then scaling up or down as needed.
How Much Should You Pay an Apartment Maintenance Technician?
Even if you choose not to include salary in your job listing, there's one thing you need to do before posting the job online:
Decide how much you're willing to pay.
The average apartment maintenance technician salary in the U.S. is $39,782 per year, but that number varies from region to region.
Experienced maintenance techs in San Francisco earn almost $50,000 per year, while techs in Wichita, Kansas earn an average of just over $30,000.
To attract top talent in your city:
Offer a competitive salary for your region.
Learn what your competitors are paying their techs. If you want the best technicians available, be ready to pay at least as much or offer an even higher salary.
If you don’t have room in your budget to offer a larger salary, consider offering a one-time incentive, such as a sign-on bonus.