As a property owner, it is your responsibility to maintain the properties you lease to tenants. In fact, most states have very strict laws when it comes to providing tenants a habitable home that is livable and secure from safety hazards. And, while most property owners are aware of major frequent rental repairs in investment properties, the truth is there are some seemingly minor and often pesky repairs that your tenants are sure to contact you about at one point or another.
And sometimes you have to fix them.
Many real estate professionals feel they shouldn’t have to waste their time fixing “trivial” things in a rental home just because a tenant requests it. However, tenants pay good money to live in a leased home where all things are handled for them, small repairs included. What’s more, there is no real way to get out of these repairs unless you have a specific provision written directly into your lease agreement stating that it is the tenant’s responsibility to take on certain maintenance tasks.
That said, let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can tackle pesky, yet necessary rental maintenance issues on your own.
Top Pesky Maintenance Issues and How to Handle Them
1. Minor Plumbing Issues
A clogged drain can be any property owner’s worst nightmare. From hair to rocks to small toys, you never know what is down the drain until you go searching for it. Luckily, handling a minor clog is a relatively easy process so long as you have the right tools. It is worth noting, however, that you do not have to fix this problem yourself if the clog was the tenant’s doing. You can always call a plumber and charge your tenants for any services rendered.
If, however, you do choose to tackle this maintenance issue yourself, one of the best ways to do so is to use a hair-catching tool. If the clogged drain is a sink or shower one, chances are hair buildup is what is causing the problem.
2. A Running Toilet
If your tenant calls complaining that the toilet is continually running water, it is most likely that the flapper inside of the toilet’s tank has broken. Typically, it is the chain that the flapper is connected to that breaks, though oftentimes the flapper itself becomes worn and refuses to seal properly upon closing.
You can easily purchase a new toilet flapper at the store for under $20, and fixing it is easy too. There are typically instructions that come with the new flapper and if those are not helpful, You Tube is a great go-to source.
3. A Hole in the Wall
Though not likely to affect your tenant’s quality of living, if you are notified that there is a hole in the interior of your property, you should address it quickly to avoid further damage. And while you can hire a contractor to come out and fix the hole for you, you might want to consider a more inexpensive route and purchase a do-it-yourself wall repair kit instead. These kits come with all the needed supplies to cover, spackle, and smooth the hole. Then all that is left to do is paint the area that was repaired to match the surrounding wall.
4. A Leaky Pipe
Though some leaks are serious and can flood your property if not attended to quickly, most are due to a loose fitting or a worn out seal, both of which can be fixed without the help of a professional. If you opt to attempt to fix a leaky pipe yourself, follow these basic steps:
- Turn off the property’s water supply
- Clean and dry the area that is leaking
- Cover the leaking area with some sticky epoxy and then add the rubber
- Tighten the pipe on both sides of the rubber area
- Let the rubber settle for one hour before turning your property’s water back on
5. Garbage Disposals
Most people have had trouble with their garbage disposal at one point or another. Therefore, as a property owner, you are likely to get this call from your tenants often.
There are several reasons the disposal might not be working properly:
- It has turned itself off from overuse and needs to be reset (there is a small button underneath most garbage disposals for resetting the motor)
- There is something stuck in it (possibly a large piece of leftover food, a utensil, or broken glass)
- The motor has burned out
Resetting the garbage disposal is something that your tenants can do themselves, thus saving everyone a lot of time. However, if something is stuck or the motor has died completely, you will need to come to the property and fix it. This may mean pulling the disposal apart and clearing the clog or replacing the unit altogether.
6. Improper Water Temperatures
Unless the water heater in your property is about to give way (if that’s the case you are in big trouble!) a tenant complaining about incorrect water temperature is usually not a big deal. The most common reason for this is an improper water setting, and turning the tank’s dial to 120 degrees Fahrenheit will likely fix the problem. Just make sure to give the tank a day or so to adjust to the different setting.
If turning the dial does not heat up your tenant’s water, the heating element inside of the tank may need fixing. This is an inexpensive and easy fix that you could certainly take care of yourself.
In the end, you will face plenty of pesky maintenance issues as a property owner. And while these repairs do not pose any serious threats, it is your duty to make sure your tenants are satisfied. If you are wanting to save money, this means making repairs yourself rather than hiring a professional.
If you really do not want to handle these annoying maintenance issues yourself, you can always enlist the help of a qualified property management company to help you. They will have a maintenance staff on-call to handle all property related issues, whether serious or not, so you do not have to deal with clogged drains, broken garbage disposals, or leaky pipes in your free time.