One of the biggest challenges faced by any landlord has to be maintenance. In fact, the number one reason why tenants choose to move is due to maintenance (or lack thereof).
However, landlords can avoid the “pain points” if they follow some simple rules, stay organized and budget accordingly. Below we talk about some of the strategies for managing rental maintenance.
Some rental maintenance issues, such as a leaky faucet, often can’t be anticipated or avoided. Other issues can be addressed before they become serious problems by following a regular maintenance schedule. These are the items that should be checked on a regular basis, whether weekly, monthly or annually, such as a yearly furnace inspection. Regular maintenance isn’t just about avoiding costly repairs but ensuring a pleasant living environment for tenants.
The rental property maintenance checklist below is a suggested guide as to what each self-managing landlord should be looking for on a regular basis:
- Check for leaks, especially following strong rainstorms or after significant snowmelt. Water damage is the enemy of every landlord.
- Replace furnace filters frequently.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.
- Check for pests quarterly if not monthly.
- Re-caulk showers and bathtubs to prevent mold and leaks.
- Tighten any handles, knobs, locks, faucets, etc.
- Check fire extinguishers.
- Flush water heater.
- Clean gutters.
One of the keys to maintaining your unit is to conduct regular inspections on their rental property. This is where a a lot of landlords fall down by failing to do these simple inspections:
- Move-in Inspection: This walk-through inspection is typically done with the tenant. This provides an opportunity for the tenant to identify any concerns and for the landlord to document the condition of the property when it was turned over.
- Routine Inspection: Landlords should schedule regular inspections of the property with the tenant, ideally on a quarterly basis. A landlord should provide prior notification before entering the property; often the terms of the lease will specify the particulars regarding these visits, or local law will. This is an opportunity for the landlord to identify maintenance issues or for the tenant to discuss any problems such as that leaky faucet.
- Drive-by Inspection: Routinely stopping by the unit to observe its outside condition can help spot issues such as the unauthorized presence of a pet.
- Move-out Inspection: As the name implies, this inspection comes when the tenant moves out. This inspection is not only the time to identify any damage a tenant may have caused but for the landlord to note what normal wear-and-tear repairs or maintenance issues may need to be addressed before the unit is rented out again.
Determining how much money to allocate for rental property maintenance expenses can be tricky. Many professional property managers use what they call the 1% Rule: One percent of the total property value should be set aside to address rental maintenance expenses. Following this rule, a rental property valued at $200,000 would have a $2,000 annual budget line item for maintenance expenses.
Keep in mind this is only a rule of thumb. Factors such as the age of the property or cost of living in the area may require a larger or smaller annual budget for rental property maintenance expenses.
At Welcome Home, maintenance is a priority for us which is why we place a high importance on all of these items. It’s also part of the reason we launched FIXit, for self managing landlords where we handle all of these items for investors. If you follow these suggestions and rental maintenance doesn’t have to a “pain point” for landlords but a point of pride and a way to retain good tenants. Interested in learning more or need some help of your own? Feel free to reach out to us today.