Preventative maintenance on rental properties is key to avoiding mistakes that could cost you as a landlord. From scheduling the right contractor to providing tenants with enough notice, the procedures you have in place to address preventative maintenance will save you big bucks and big headaches as a property owner.
Here are eight of the worst residential property maintenance mistakes and how you can avoid them:
1. Skipping routine maintenance on your rental properties
Things wear out. From air conditioning units to toilets, routine maintenance is necessary to prevent costly major repair bills. For example, skipping out on the routine fall and spring maintenance on your heating and cooling units. You could end up needing to replace the whole thing earlier than if you had simply scheduled the maintenance.
Solution: Discipline yourself to schedule routine maintenance on major systems like heating and air. You should have items like the roof and gutters checked regularly.
2. Ignoring the need to budget for costly repairs on your rental properties
There is a difference between routine maintenance, minor repairs, and major repairs. Face it, every property needs all three of these types of attention. Factually speaking, the roof is getting older each day and will need to be replaced in a timely fashion. Every hot water heater has a lifespan that, and if ignored, could cause unexpected flooding and the need for even more repairs.
Solution: Set aside two funds for each rental property: one for routine maintenance and minor repairs, and one for major repairs. Anticipate the upcoming major repairs by routinely setting aside a fixed percentage of the income from the property to assure you are well prepared for the expected and unexpected major repairs.
3. Neglecting to perform regular inspections of your rental properties
Property inspections are done for your benefit as a landlord. Many things can be picked up during an inspection. First of all, you can see firsthand how well your tenants are treating your property. If they have allowed their six favorite four-legged pets to live with them and their eight favorite friends, it will be evident.
Moisture leaks, mold, termites, and ventilation issues should all be inspected regularly. If property inspections aren’t performed, in some cases, insurance coverage could be invalid as a result. That’s a high price to pay for neglecting an important ingredient of successful property management.
Solution: Property inspections give you firsthand information on not only the repairs that need to be addressed immediately but also the upcoming maintenance that should be scheduled. Stick with the regular inspections and maintenance schedule, and you will save big in the long run.
4. Overlooking the need to ask your tenants to alert you if maintenance issues arise
Prevent serious maintenance needs by asking tenants to inform you if even small maintenance issues come up. Giving tenants some basic instructions for the care of your property (like looking out for signs of any type of moisture leak or damage) can save you big bucks.
Solution: Make it part of the lease signing procedure that you ask tenants to keep the lines of communication open and alert you to maintenance needs that pop up.
5. Delaying necessary maintenance on your rental property
When something needs to be fixed in a rental property, tenants appreciate it when prompt attention is given to the situation. An unkempt property sends the wrong signal to tenants. Delaying necessary maintenance could cost you. First of all, it could cost by creating disgruntled tenants and prompting swifter turnover. This creates more work for you in the long run. Secondly, it could cost you by creating more costly repair needs due to your delay or neglect of the problem at hand.
Solution: Take responsibility for maintenance issues when they arise. Keep your properties in good repair and reap the benefits of happy tenants who aren’t anxious to move from your quality rental property. Communicate with your actions that you are responsive to repair requests and care about your investment.
6. Underestimating the need to find trustworthy contractors and repairmen to address your property’s maintenance and repair needs
Finding reputable contractors and repairmen is a vital part of the success of your rental property. Just as you check references on tenants before they sign a lease, check references on the contractors and repairmen you hire to fix your property.
Solution: Avoid the hassle of the need to redo shoddy work from unqualified repairmen by simply finding someone who will do it right the first time. It’s better to pay a little extra for a professional job than to pay a lot extra for a job that needs to be redone.
7. Neglecting to give tenants proper notice when repairs need to be made
No one likes surprises, so schedule trusted contractors ahead of time for routine maintenance and give proper notice to tenants so they can prepare.
Solution: Even if there is a need for an emergency repair, contact the tenant to give any notice possible out of respect for them.
8. Not monitoring repairs
Routine maintenance done by reputable professionals you trust doesn’t typically need your monitoring. When major repairs are needed, whether expected or unexpected, it’s wise to show up and take a look at the need yourself. You may uncover the cause of the problem, or—while on-site—you may find other areas of the rental property that need attention in the near future. You could stop by after the repair work is complete, or ask your contractor or repairman to take a picture of the completed job and submit it to you.
We understand how time-consuming property management can be, particularly in the area of property maintenance and repairs. That’s why we’ve helped hundreds of investors and homeowners find the right tenants and manage their property efficiently. See our McGraw Property Management Services and tell us what you’re looking for.