Property Maintenance is both the tenant and the landlord’s responsibility. What they’re each responsible for depends on what is outlined in the lease and the extent of the repair/maintenance needed. Typically, tenants are responsible for the regular upkeep of their rented property; This includes things like changing light bulbs and keeping their yard trash-free. Landlords are usually responsible for more big-ticket maintenance, such as HVAC repairs, roof leaks, electrical, and structural issues.
If a property is well-maintained by the tenants and the landlord, it is more likely to attract interest in future renters and will lessen the amount of recurring large-scale maintenance problems.
Here are six tips to manage recurring rental property maintenance that will help to keep your properties well-maintained.
1. Communication is Key.
It will only make things easier for you and your tenants if there are established lines of communication. If tenants know their landlord cares about their maintenance issues, they are more likely to take care of their property too. Now, this is a two-way street.
Make sure to keep tenants informed about how maintenance repairs are going and if there are unexpected roadblocks that may cause it to take longer than you thought to finish the repair. You should respond to tenants’ reports and concerns as quickly as possible, even if you can’t immediately fix the problem, let them know you hear their concern and will take care of the situation promptly.
2. Practice preventative maintenance.
Preventative maintenance is preparing for a maintenance issue before it occurs.
This can be done by creating a schedule of inspections and maintenance. This schedule can be designed by week, month, or even season; depending on your unique set of properties. For example, you may schedule pipe maintenance right before the winter months to make sure they are prepared to sustain colder temperatures and won’t freeze or burst.
Even with a preventative maintenance schedule, always try to expect the unexpected. Maintenance repairs that don’t fall into the predetermined inspection schedule will probably still happen but are less likely to occur if everything is routinely checked.
A maintenance schedule can save you time and money in the long run, and well-maintained property will only increase property value.
3. Everything has an expiration date.
During these inspections, remember that everything has an expiration date. This includes appliances, paint, and even built-in fixtures like rugs and wood flooring. Be sure to take into consideration the age and condition of what you are repairing, the expected lifespan, how many times it has been fixed previously, and if there are any safety concerns or price disparities involved with repairing it rather than replacing it.
Also, try and make good notes of larger potential projects that are in the medium to long-term future for each property. Items like the removal of large trees that may be creating a hazard on the property or the replacement of decks and porches or the resurfacing of driveways at some point will likely need to be taken care of, and these projects can come with both hefty expenses and inconveniences for the tenants.
These considerations can be help with tenant relationships and retention and can help to spread out expenses over time and manage a more even month to month cash flow situation for you as the investor.
4. Standardization and automation keep things simple.
By using the same maintenance materials, like colors of paint and brands of appliances and hardware, you can save time and money on trying to remember what property needs what. This will also allow you to provide the same, smooth transition to a move-in ready property every time you’re looking for a new tenant for each of your properties.
You can also work at automating some changes in your properties as well like have all of your air and/or water filters changed out the same months or do all of your leaf removals and clean up the same week.
You can also invest in appliances that have longer expected lives, are tamper-resistant, or automatically turn on or off. Automatic exterior lights or hardwired fire alarms with rechargeable batteries are examples of nice additions that tenants will likely appreciate.
5. Keep a list of repairs made and expenses paid.
Be sure to keep a full list of repairs that were done and the time it took to complete them. Holding on to receipts from every repair will help this process. This information can be used to adjust and optimize your maintenance schedule. If you find recurring maintenance was needed on a particular property or type of appliance, consider increasing the number of inspections accordingly or replacing as needed.
Also, keeping track of what you spend on inspections and repairs will enable you to create a maintenance budget, and organized files come in helpful at tax time or for annual reviews of property income performance.
6. Be prepared no matter what the situation.
Be prepared in any situation by noting a few things. Know where your property’s electrical panels, gas, and water shut-offs are located not only to direct whoever is conducting inspections and maintenance but also in case of emergency situations. Making sure your tenants know where the water cut off valve is can save you thousands of dollars in the case of a frozen or broken pipe. It takes virtually no time to flood an entire house with a badly broken pipe.
Know what kind of work is required to be conducted by a licensed professional. This can differ from state to state. Check with your local building authority to ensure you stay on the right side of their guidelines.
Recurring maintenance on any property can be time consuming and expensive. Ignoring maintenance items and you run the risk of having larger more costly and time-consuming issues that may appear unexpectedly while no one wants to purposefully fix things that aren’t 100% necessary for the upkeep of a home.
Professional help and management can typically help in these situations as Philadelphia Property Management Companies will usually have the experience and contact to quickly and affordably take care of exactly what needs to be fixed or maintained without spending more than is necessary.