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How Much Should Investors Save for Rental Property Maintenance Costs

Owning and managing rental properties takes a ton of time, money, and effort. One of the significant aspects of managing rental properties is keeping up with routine maintenance, emergency maintenance issues, and other maintenance requests. As such, it’s crucial to account for rental property maintenance costs while creating your business budget. Here’s what you need to know about rental property maintenance costs and responsibilities. 


Categories of Rental Property Maintenance

Maintenance is a fairly broad term since there are several categories of rental property maintenance. For instance, seasonal maintenance, routine maintenance, and emergency maintenance. 


While each category is equally as important, investors must know how to approach each scenario. So here are some typical maintenance tasks for each rental property maintenance type below. 

  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Seasonal Maintenance
  • Emergency Maintenance

Preventative Maintenance

Many landlords prioritize routine preventative maintenance to prevent higher costs and repairs later on. After all, ensuring that all vital services and major systems are working properly is essential in a rental property. Here are some things you’ll want to check on while performing preventative maintenance. 

  • Test All Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors- To comply with building codes and ensure tenant safety, it’s crucial to test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors at least once a year.
  • Change the HVAC Filters Routinely- Tenants or landlords should change HVAC filters once every three months to eliminate dust, dirt, pollen, and dander, which can clog the filters and affect air quality. 
  • Perform Inspections- Performing a yearly inspection of the property can give you a good idea of lease compliance and rental maintenance needs. 
  • Inspect Shower and Bathtub Caulk and Grout- Inspect and redo the bathroom caulking and grout after each tenant moves out to prevent costly damages. These seams can quickly deteriorate and infiltrate with water, which may cause mold growth. 
  • Drain the Water Heater- Although it’s not the most well-known maintenance task, periodically draining the water heater at your rental property is essential. Before winter comes, make sure to flush the water heater to ensure there is no buildup or clogs present. 

Seasonal Maintenance 

Another important part of rental property maintenance is seasonal tasks. Although it depends on where your rental is located, there are several things you can do each season to prevent repairs and damage later on. Here are some examples of seasonal maintenance tasks for summer, spring, fall, and winter. 


Spring/Summer Maintenance Tasks

  • Inspect the roof and repair any damaged areas. 
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they’re working correctly. 
  • Inspect and clean the gutters to eliminate debris and ensure water drains away from the property’s foundation. 
  • Inspect door and window locks to ensure they’re working correctly and replace them if not. 
  • Check the attic for leaks in the roof, mold, or openings where pests may come in. 
  • Ensure the basement is adequately ventilated and consider installing a dehumidifier, if necessary. 

Fall/Winter Maintenance Tasks

  • Inspect the pipes throughout the year to ensure no leaks or damages are present. Additionally, ensure your tenants know the warning signs of frozen pipes or other emergencies. 
  • Look for water damage from pipes or leaks throughout the rental.
  • Reverse ceiling fans to improve energy efficiency and room temperature regulation. 
  • If your rental has a fireplace, inspect and clean it before tenants use it during the winter months. 
  • Seal any holes or openings around the exterior of your rental property to ensure pests or rodents don’t sneak in during the cold months. 

Emergency Maintenance

Although you can never be too prepared for an emergency, emergency maintenance situations must get taken care of immediately. Emergencies can happen anytime, so tenants need to reach out to landlords or property managers in Northern Virginia for an immediate response. 

Rental Property Maintenance Costs

Maintenance and repairs throughout a rental property aren’t necessarily cheap. In fact, damages left unreported by tenants or unnoticed can result in costly repairs. Therefore, landlords must save an emergency fund and budget appropriately for rental property maintenance costs. 

Depending on what type of maintenance you’re performing, costs can vary. For instance, emergency rental property maintenance costs are often more expensive and hard to budget for. After all, you could be dealing with a major pipe leak, a broken water heater, or a gas leak. That said, it’s best to keep a surplus of money as an emergency maintenance fund. 

Since landlords are responsible for the majority of rental property maintenance costs, it’s best to form a budget and estimate expenses for the next year. There are several ways to estimate costs, such as the methods below.   

How to Estimate Rental Property Maintenance Costs

Landlords can use various methods and formulas to calculate or estimate rental property maintenance costs. However, there are three main ways landlords estimate maintenance expenses for the year. Although it depends on the type of property you own, here are a few formulas you can use to calculate routine and emergency maintenance costs. 

  • 1% Rule- Maintenance should cost around 1% of the property’s overall value each year. For instance, if the property is worth $200,000, you’ll want to save around $2,000 for rental maintenance costs. 
  • 50% Rule- Landlords can set aside 50% of their monthly income for routine maintenance, repairs, and other rental property costs. 
  • Square Footage Rule- Save around $1 per square footage of your rental home. For example, if you have a 1,500-square-foot rental, you’ll want to save around $1,500 for maintenance. 

What Maintenance Is the Landlord Responsible For? 


Both tenants and landlords are responsible for maintenance tasks in a rental property. However, landlords or property managers are generally accountable for more significant maintenance issues or prevention tasks. On the other hand, tenants must keep up with smaller tasks. For instance, tenants must maintain sanitary conditions, comply with the lease and occupancy codes, and report any significant issues within the property. 

Landlords also have their fair share of maintenance responsibilities. For one, landlords must ensure all vital services are working throughout the rental property before and during a tenancy. Also, landlords must comply with building codes and local regulations, like ensuring the property’s structural integrity and disclosing any lead paint or asbestos materials. 

Finally, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to maintain common areas and promptly respond to tenant maintenance requests. For example, suppose you own a multi-family rental property. In that case, you must ensure no tripping or safety hazards in hallways, shovel and de-ice walkways, maintain working lighting fixtures, and more. 

Furthermore, landlords must take care of any rental unit repairs immediately. If repairs are necessary, it’s crucial to get them done as soon as possible to avoid more extensive damages later on. Additionally, promptly addressing tenant concerns can build a better landlord-tenant relationship. 

How Can Landlords Streamline Maintenance Tasks?

Performing routine, seasonal, emergency, and other maintenance tasks in several rentals each season is nearly impossible for just one landlord. After all, you can’t be in more than one place at once. As a result, many busy rental property owners hire property management teams to streamline processes and maximize profits. 

Bay Property Management Group offers comprehensive management services, including tenant screening, maintenance, rent collection, and more. Allow our hardworking team of professionals to manage your rental while providing the greatest return on your investment. Contact BMG today if you’re looking for full-service management in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, or Washington DC.