Owning rental properties comes with a lot of responsibility. One of the most important tasks for landlords and property managers is keeping up with rental repairs and maintenance. However, if you don’t account for these expenses within your budget, they can put a major dent in your rental income. As such, it’s crucial to know how to budget and plan for regular repairs and maintenance. Today, we’ll go over the most common rental repairs, how to budget for them, and when you may need professional help.
Contents of This Article:
- When to Perform Maintenance or Make Property Repairs
- Common Types of Repairs and Maintenance
- How to Budget for Property Repairs and Maintenance
- Knowing When to Hire Professionals
- Manage Repairs and Maintenance With Ease
When to Perform Maintenance or Make Property Repairs
Maintenance and property repairs are crucial to keeping your rental property in good condition. Whether you’re a landlord or a Washington DC property management company, you know the importance of keeping up with maintenance tasks.
That said, the timing of these tasks can vary depending on factors like the type of maintenance or repair needed, seasonal changes, and the specific conditions of your property. Some of the most common indicators or best times to perform maintenance and repairs include the following.
- Regular Maintenance- Routine and regular maintenance is crucial for rental properties. For instance, you’ll want to check the HVAC filters regularly and replace them if necessary. Additionally, it’s important to regularly test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors as part of routine property maintenance.
- Seasonal Maintenance- Certain maintenance tasks and property repairs should be done each season. For instance, you’ll want to inspect the roof and gutters in the spring, inspect and repair paint or siding damage in the summer, and ensure the walkways are free of ice and snow in the winter.
- As-Needed Repairs- Some repairs aren’t on a fixed schedule but should be addressed as soon as they’re identified. For instance, if you’re performing a regular inspection and find issues within a property, it’s important to fix them as soon as possible.
- Emergency Repairs- As the name suggests, these repairs need immediate attention for safety or to prevent further damage. Some examples include burst pipes, gas leaks, or fallen trees that damage the property.
- Renovations and Upgrades- Most rental properties need periodic upgrades and sometimes renovations. These are typically planned well in advance and may range from minor updates to significant structural changes. However, the timing depends on factors like budget, availability of contractors, and personal preferences.
Common Types of Repairs and Maintenance
Repairs and maintenance are inevitable in any rental property, but you can’t plan for everything. Natural disasters can come through and damage your property, causing extreme damage that could take years to repair.
However, there are plenty of repairs and maintenance tasks you can plan for. Here are some of the most common ones for rental properties and how to solve them.
- Plumbing Repairs- Simple plumbing issues are quite common in rental properties. Whether it’s a minor faucet leak, clogged toilets, or slowly draining sinks, these issues are typically easy to fix. However, calling a professional is vital if the issue is more complex.
- HVAC Repairs and Maintenance- Nobody wants to be without heat or air conditioning. So, it’s important to regularly change or clean your HVAC filters and call a professional when the system breaks down or more complex maintenance is needed.
- Exterior Repairs and Maintenance- It’s important to inspect the gutters, roof, and siding seasonally to ensure there are no leaks or damage to the property’s exterior. Unfortunately, harsh weather can cause shingles to break or gutters to become damaged, which may result in leaks.
- Replacing or Repairing Appliances- Appliances don’t last forever, so it’s important to know when to replace them. Although replacing them can be expensive, you’ll want to look into how long your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer can last before they’re too old and worn down.
- Pest Control- Pests can make their way into a rental property at any time. Depending on the property and your rental agreement, you or your tenant will need to take care of removing pests from the property.
How to Budget for Property Repairs and Maintenance
Property repairs and maintenance costs can vary widely depending on several factors. For instance, you have to consider the location, extent of work needed, materials used, and whether you hire a professional or do it yourself.
However, no matter the repair(s), you’ll want to set aside funds to take care of them at any given time. After all, when you have tenants living in your properties, you have legal obligations to keep the rental safe and habitable throughout their stay.
While the costs of repairs can differ depending on the extent of the issue or type of maintenance, you can estimate repair costs in a few different ways.
- The 1% Rule
- The 50% Rule
- Square Footage Rule
The 1% Rule
The 1% rule is one solution that can help landlords estimate rental maintenance costs based on the value of the property. If you follow the 1% rule for maintenance and repairs, you can expect to pay around 1% of the property value per year. For instance, if your rental costs $275,000, then you’ll want to set aside at least $2,750 for annual maintenance expenses.
The 50% Rule
The 50% rule is similar in nature to the 1% rule but accounts for more monthly expenses aside from maintenance and repairs. If you’re following the 50% rule, you will set aside 50% of your rental income for maintenance, taxes, insurance, and other costs related to the property. So, if you charge $2,000 monthly, you’d set aside around $1,000 per month for various operating expenses.
Square Footage Rule
Finally, the square footage rule can be another helpful way to estimate maintenance costs for your rental. This rule suggests you should set aside $1 per square foot for annual maintenance expenses. For example, if your rental is 2,500 square feet, you’d need to budget for $2,500 in maintenance costs per year.
Remember, these rules are suggestions and shouldn’t be relied on exclusively. While they can provide a starting point for evaluating rental expenses, it’s important to still conduct due diligence and use your own discretion.
Knowing When to Hire Professionals
Although you may want to save money by fixing things on your own, not all rental property repairs are DIY-worthy. Knowing when to hire professionals for repairs and maintenance is crucial for ensuring the safety, quality, and longevity of your property.
For instance, attempting some repairs, like electrical work, without proper training can lead to safety hazards, electrical fires, or incomplete work. So, hiring a licensed electrical can ensure the work is done safely and up to code.
Additionally, plumbing issues can escalate quickly without the help of a professional, potentially causing water damage and tenant discomfort. To avoid costly long-term issues, hiring a professional with the necessary skills and tools to help can be more beneficial.
Other common types of rental maintenance that may require professionals include:
- Tree removal or extensive landscaping projects
- HVAC repairs
- Roofing and structural issues
- Pest control
- Gas line work
Remember, while it may be tempting to tackle repairs and maintenance on your own, recognizing the limitations of your expertise is crucial. Hiring professionals ensures that tasks are completed safely, effectively, and in compliance with regulations. Although it may use more of your budget, it’s a wise investment in the long-term success of your rental properties.
Manage Repairs and Maintenance With Ease
There’s no getting around rental property repairs and maintenance. However, there are ways to anticipate them and make your life easier. By planning and budgeting for common rental repairs, you take away some of the stress and worry of cutting into your rental income.
If you need help planning for and completing necessary maintenance and repairs in your rental property, it may be time to look for a property management company. Bay Property Management Group offers comprehensive rental management services throughout Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. So, if you’re looking for help marketing rentals, screening tenants, collecting payments, and performing maintenance, we’ve got it covered. Contact BMG today to learn more about how we can help your business succeed!