Rental maintenance is one of the most crucial obligations that each landlord has. When asked, 7 out of 10 property owners stated that property maintenance is one of their top three pain points, along with loss of rental income and difficult renters. Rental property upkeep necessitates year-round care, which costs time and money. On the other hand, landlords may avoid maintenance issues if they follow a few easy guidelines, stay organized, and set an appropriate maintenance budget for each property. Keep reading for more information on rental property maintenance.
Regularly Scheduled Maintenance
Some property maintenance issues, such as a running toilet, are either unanticipated or unavoidable. In contrast, property owners can avoid other issues before becoming major ones if they follow a regular schedule for maintenance. These maintenance items should have regular weekly, monthly, or annual inspections like a furnace inspection. Scheduling maintenance is essential for preventing costly problems and ensuring tenants have a safe and comfortable living environment.
The property maintenance checklist below is not an exhaustive list but examples of regular maintenance items to address. Each landlord must develop a monthly schedule for property maintenance specific to their rentals. Below are a few examples of maintenance items that should be on your checklist.
- Check rentals for leaks, especially after heavy rainstorms or significant snowmelt. Every landlord’s worst nightmare is water damage.
- Maintain HVAC systems and change air filters following manufacturer recommendations.
- Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
- Inspect for pests each month
- Bathtubs and showers should be re-caulked to avoid leaks and mold
- Tighten all faucets, locks, knobs, handles, and so on.
- Examine the fire extinguishers.
- Flush the water heater.
- Gutter cleaning
- Trim any trees that pose a danger to building structures and electrical lines
Next, create a maintenance schedule for more costly items, such as internal and external painting or replacing carpeting or tile. The maintenance plan will depend on the wear and tear of each unit. Still, professional property managers suggest performing these projects every two to three years, or sooner if needed.
Routine Property Inspections
Conducting rental property inspections is essential to keeping your unit in good condition. Landlords can conduct four types of inspections to ensure their properties remain in great shape.
- Move-in Inspection: A move-in inspection is when a new tenant walks through a property with the landlord, allowing tenants to highlight any issues and the landlord to document the state of the rental property before the tenant moves in.
- Routine Inspection: Landlords should plan frequent property inspections with tenants, ideally every quarter. Before accessing the property, a landlord should offer prior notice; frequently, the lease terms define the details, or local legislation will. Routine inspections allow the landlord to identify maintenance concerns or for the renter to bring up any issues, such as a running toilet or leaky faucets.
- Drive-by Inspection: Regular drive-by inspections might help identify concerns such as unlawful pets.
- Move-out Inspection: Inspections should also occur after the tenant vacates the premises. This type of inspection allows the landlord to record typical wear-and-tear repairs and any damage committed by a tenant before renting the property out again.
Expenses for Property Maintenance
Setting a budget for property maintenance costs can be difficult. However, professional property managers often follow what is known as the 1 Percent Rule. The rule states that landlords should put one percent of the entire property value towards maintenance charges. According to this concept, a $150,000 rental property should have a yearly budget of $1,500 for maintenance charges. The property’s age and cost of living in the region may necessitate a more significant or lower yearly budget for the upkeep of the rental.
A separate calculation, known as the 50 Percent rule, may be used to account for more substantial upkeep, such as roof repairs or replacement. According to this approach, 50% of all rental property revenue should be operational expenditures, including property maintenance, repairs, taxes, insurance, fixed fees, and escrow. For example, that means a home that leases for $1,200 per month should have a $600 budget for maintenance and operation costs.
Hiring Out Your Property Management and Maintenance Vs. DIY
A property maintenance budget also depends on whether the landlord performs the maintenance himself or hires a property manager. While it may be tempting for a landlord to perform the maintenance to save money, a landlord may discover hiring a property manager saves them valuable time to work on their business and increase their portfolio.
Property maintenance necessitates a diverse skill set, ranging from carpentry to electrical to plumbing and troubleshooting issues. Tenant calls can come in at any time, day or night. Landlords who decide to take on their property maintenance must prepare to be on call 24/7.
Additionally, it is also essential to keep in mind that a renter isn’t concerned with the cost of upkeep or the amount of money a landlord may save by completing the job themselves. Poor upkeep is at the top of the list of reasons for turnover mentioned by tenants for not renewing a lease. Therefore, it is vital to handle all maintenance as quickly as possible. Some renters may attempt to make the repairs themselves, causing further issues, or may not pay their rent until repairs are complete. Renters may also request that local housing authorities check a property they believe is being maintained poorly or unsafely.
Proper Maintenance Keeps Tenants Happy
Excellent property management boils down to good rental maintenance. To keep your good renters satisfied, landlords should prioritize routine maintenance and inspections, as well as make prompt repairs when necessary. Good upkeep of your property is essential for tenant retention. Many tenants are used to receiving low-quality service, so if they rent your property and receive excellent service, the chances of the tenant continuing to rent from you improves significantly. Follow up on maintenance calls with a quick survey or phone call to see if the renter is happy with the job. Before and after any maintenance work, it is also good to document any service calls with notes and images.
The tenant screening process should be the starting point for good rental maintenance. A reliable tenant with a good credit history and solid references is more likely to look after a home. By following these tips, landlords may turn property maintenance into a source of pride and a means of retaining good renters rather than a source of frustration. At Real Property Management Consultants, we have over 30 years of residential property management experience and are here to help. We make property management and maintenance stress-free!
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