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DIY Rental Property Repairs Every Landlord Needs to Know


Maintenance and repairs are some of the biggest expenses for rental property owners. However, learning how to complete simple DIY repairs and knowing when to call experts is important to managing costs. For example, unclogging a toilet could be an easy DIY fix, but hiring a professional plumber can run anywhere from $150 to $700! Over time, it is easy to see how these costs for minor issues add up and cut into profits. That said, continue reading below before you buckle up your tool belt to see what rental property repairs are potential DIY and what needs a professional.

Simple Rental Property Repairs Every Landlord Should Know

When it comes to rental property repairs, deciding to do some DIY does not mean having a trusted list of maintenance vendors is any less important. It is vital to complete repairs efficiently and correctly for both the safety of tenants and the preservation of the property itself. Certain types of repairs or routine maintenance require special certifications or training. However, there are a lot of rental property repairs that landlords can complete on their own. Let’s review some of the most common ones below.

  1. Troubleshooting Appliances
  2. Pest Control
  3. Simple Plumbing
  4. Basic HVAC Maintenance
  5. Drywall Patching
  6. Small Roof or Gutter Repairs

Troubleshooting Appliances

Major appliances can equal major repair bills. That said, typically, a malfunction results from a simple cause. So, landlords can try some troubleshooting before calling in an appliance professional. Always retain appliance user manuals in a safe place, but an online search should provide a wealth of tips if they are not available. Some of the most common appliance problems come from the following –

  • Blown Fuse
  • Internal Obstruction
  • Broken or Worn Drive Belt
  • Broken Thermostat

While this does not cover every issue, troubleshooting can help determine when or if you need a more qualified maintenance specialist.

Pest Control

Pests of any kind are not only a nuisance, but they can also cause damage to the property. In addition, pests carry diseases that present a potential health threat to tenants. While the tenant is not without responsibility for preventing pests, owners can take proactive measures as well.

Periodic spraying for roaches and insects can help prevent an infestation from occurring. Additionally, seal up any exterior holes that could allow pests or rodents into the home. However, if the infestation is serious or you locate evidence of termites, call a professional.

Simple Plumbing

If a pipe bursts, call a professional and, moreover, reach out to a qualified vendor for all major issues. However, simple faucet leaks and clogged toilets or drains can benefit from DIY fixes. Do not be afraid to utilize online plumbing tutorials and videos to guide owners through disassembling a faucet, changing a worn washer, or properly applying sealant.

Simple Plumbing

Likewise, online videos can help property owners learn how to unclog or snake a drain. Also, depending on the type and age of the property’s fixtures, the owner’s manual may guide easy repairs.

Some of the key tools every homeowner should have to complete simple plumbing repairs are as follows –

  • Plunger – It seems obvious, but this is a valuable tool for fixing a clogged toilet.
  • Thread Seal Tape – Thread seal tape is the owner’s best ally for fixing leaks or installing new fixtures like showerheads.
  • Adjustable Wrench – Whether adjusting fixtures, securing pipes and bolts, or loosening connections, an adjustable wrench is essential.
  • Caulk Gun and Caulk – Caulk is a sealant for various areas around the home, including in the bathroom and kitchen. Always make sure you use the right sealant for the job, and a calk gin allows for easy application.
  • Hand Auger – For tougher or compacted clogs that other tools can’t resolve, a hand auger can help dislodge the block.
  • Various Pliers – Long-nosed pliers are helpful for hard-to-reach places, but it is a good idea to have a few pliers in various sizes on hand.

Basic HVAC Maintenance

No heat or A/C is a frustrating experience for tenants and no fun for owners either. So, when the system breaks down, calling a professional is vital. That said, simple maintenance can help avoid a major system failure and the costly repairs that accompany a breakdown. Therefore, make sure as an owner you are familiar with how to –

  • Change or Clean Filters
  • Oil the Fan Motor
  • Clean Refrigerator Coils
  • Changing a Faulty Heat Sensor (if the property has a gas furnace)

Drywall Patching

In rentals, drywall damage is not uncommon. Whether tenant’s furniture causes damage or holes occurred from hanging items, basic drywall patching skills will save owners money. Carefully repairing drywall will allow for a better paint touch-up and extend the life of the property’s walls. The essential tools you will need for a drywall include –

  • Measuring Tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Drywall Hammer
  • Mud Pan
  • Drywall Mud
  • Putty Knife
  • Sanding Sponge or Sandpaper

Pro Tip: Looking for an easy way to make simple drywall repairs without gathering many supplies? Check out Amazon for a simple all-in-one drywall repair kit. Also, to get you started, check out this handy drywall repair tutorial from Home Depot.

Small Roof or Gutter RepairsSmall Roof or Gutter Repairs

Wind, storm damage, or age can cause shingles to become broken or dislodged, making the property’s roof prone to leaks. So, knowing how to do basic rental property repairs to prevent water damage is critical and saves money in the long run.

In addition to the roof, gutters can also become damaged from storms or age. Repairs for either of these areas can be costly. Therefore, make sure you keep some key supplies on hand, inspect the roof periodically, and clean the gutters annually. Some of the supplies needed for these types of rental property repairs include –

  • Ladder
  • Nails
  • Replacement Shingles
  • Gloves
  • Caulk and Caulk Gun
  • Sealant Tape

Should I Compete My Own Rental Property Repairs?

If you are not a natural handyman, completing rental property repairs can seem like a daunting task. However, the money saved along with readily available how-to instructions makes it worth the effort to try. That said, not every repair is ideal for a DIY fix, and knowing when to call a professional is key. So, let’s review some questions to ask yourself to determine who should handle your rental property repairs.

Legally, Does the Repair Require a Licensed Vendor?

When someone’s health and safety are at risk, a licensed professional is often needed. Whether it is the nature of the repair, complexity, or skill needed. For example, electrical work is a potential danger and fire hazard if not diagnosed and completed properly. Moreover, repairs that are structural or have an environmental impact, such as mold removal, lead paint, or asbestos, warrant contacting an experienced vendor. These vendors have the licensing, training, and equipment to handle repairs that homeowners cannot.

When to Call an Expert for Rental Property Repairs

  • Electrician – Flickering Lights, Installing New Outlets, Running Wires, Non-working Fixtures or Outlets, Sparking Receptacles
  • Plumber – Tub or Sink Replacement, Main Line Blockage, Burst or Frozen Pipes, Broken Down Water Heater, Shower Valve Replacement
  • HVAC – Belt Replacement, Inspecting the Wiring, Burner Adjustments, Duct Cleaning, Heat Exchangers Repair, Checking Refrigerant Levels
  • Environmental – Any environmental repairs need a professional and experienced vendor. After all, people’s health is at risk, and it is a liability for the landlord if not properly addressed.
  • Pests – Evidence of Termites or Evidence of an Infestation of Any Pest

Should I Compete My Own Rental Property Repairs?

Is the Maintenance Issue an Emergency?

Prompt handling of maintenance and repairs is essential for fostering a great landlord-tenant relationship. Often, landlords cannot drop everything in their own lives to handle an emergency repair. So, if something requires immediate attention, either after-hours or not, calling a professional is your best bet. Also, keep in mind that some maintenance issues can cause further damage if not handled right away. Therefore, in an emergency, rely on your list of trusted maintenance vendors to get the job done efficiently and mitigate any resulting damage.

Do I Have the Time to Make Rental Property Repairs, and is it Worth it?

Just because an owner could make DIY repairs does not mean they have the time or are close enough to the unit to complete them promptly. So, when a maintenance request comes in, carefully consider whether or not you have time. If you do not have time or do not live near your property, the answer is simple. However, if you have access and time, deciding if the repair is worth your time is another matter.

Without experience completing basic rental property repairs, owners may spend excessive and valuable time gathering supplies and figuring things out. Ultimately, the time and effort may not be worth the savings. So, while the decision is an individual one, we recommend considering all factors carefully.

The Easiest Way to Handle Rental Property Repairs

Rental property repairs are an inevitable part of being a successful landlord. That said, how they are handled and by who is a personal choice, and the good news is there are options.

Hiring a property manager is one of the best ways to ensure repairs, preventative tasks, and emergency maintenance are handled efficiently. Bay Property Management Group not only has qualified in-house maintenance techs, but our extensive list of trusted vendor relationships also allows owners to get quick and cost-effective repairs. In addition, as a rental owner with BMG, our team of experienced managers responds to maintenance requests, schedule repairs, follow up with tenants, and ensure all repairs get completed. So if you are looking for a stress-free way to handle maintenance and all other daily operations – give us a call today.