7 Rental Property Maintenance Tips for Landlords
As a landlord, you’ll be responsible for ensuring that your properties are kept in a habitable condition. This is something for which few first-time landlords are prepared, as well as a major cause of both personal and financial stress. As such, it can be helpful to take a look at these seven rental property maintenance tips.
Understand Your Responsibilities
Perhaps the most important document any landlord will ever lay his or her eyes on is the lease document. This is much more than just standard boilerplate – it’s going to tell you exactly what you’re responsible for in terms of maintenance.
Depending on your state’s laws and your own lease document, you might not be responsible for some types of maintenance and you might have a higher duty of care for others. If you can do some homework, you’ll have a better idea as to your responsibilities.
Set Aside Money for Repairs
One of the most common mistakes made by new landlords is a failure to put aside money for repairs. Simply put, something is eventually going to go wrong with one of your properties and you’re going to have to get things fixed quickly.
If you have an account set aside for these emergencies, you won’t run out of operating capital. Try to put a significant portion of what you earn from each property in this account early on so that you can build up a reasonable nest-egg for repairs.
When Tenants Move Out
Pro tip: It’s best to get your property on the market as soon as possible. Ideally, you’ll want to find new tenants before your current ones move out to save against possible vacancy periods. Services like RealConnect compare real estate agents allowing you to cut the costs of finding new tenants.
If you know that a tenant is moving out, it’s a great time to take care of the little things that might make a huge difference in the long-term safety of your properties. Once the apartment is clear, make sure to:
- Check the plumbing
- Check the light fixtures
- Replace smoke/carbon monoxide alarm batteries
- Fix any issues with flooring or drywall
Preventative Maintenance is Always Good
The best way to save money on repairs is to catch problems when they’re still minor. As such, you’ll want to invest in preventative maintenance whenever you can.
This means tuning up your HVAC system as the seasons change, having someone check your plumbing systems any time there’s even a small leak, and making sure that you have the home regularly checked for problems. The more work you can do ahead of time, the less of a threat there is of a catastrophic (and expensive) issue when it’s least needed.
Don’t DIY Unless You Really Can
Many landlords try to save on maintenance costs by doing the work themselves, but this can actually be a fairly dangerous proposition. It’s a great idea to do work that you know you can handle on your own, but don’t get in over your head.
Instead of tackling big projects just to save money, think about how much it would cost to fix your own mistakes. If you don’t feel one hundred percent comfortable dealing with a particular maintenance issue, it might be worthwhile to call in a professional so that it can be done safely and professionally.
Get to Know a Handyman
While you may not want to call in a professional service for everything, there’s a lot of value in getting to know someone who can handle the little jobs for a low price. Try to get to know a handyman in your area who can handle little things like replacing a broken window or fixing a leaky pipe.
Not only will this be much cheaper on average than calling in a larger service, but you’ll generally get a much better response time. If you’re not able to get in and fix the little things yourself, a handyman will be your best friend.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Finally, make sure to stay in contact with your tenants. Some tenants tend to avoid contacting their landlords at all costs, which can turn little problems into major disasters.
It’s generally a good idea to come to walk through your property at least once a month, but also make sure that you’re talking to your tenants more often than that. Even including a survey card along with the monthly rent bill can make a huge difference in terms of what you know about your property.