As a landlord, you have a responsibility to perform regular rental property maintenance. But, what does property maintenance even entail? And should all maintenance tasks fall under the landlord’s duty?
The Importance of Rental Property Maintenance
Why is property maintenance important? This is a common question many landlords ask, and one with a fairly obvious answer. It’s simple — property maintenance keeps your rental unit in good condition. Tenants are your main source of rental income, but you can’t attract good tenants if you have a poor rental property.
It’s also more difficult to retain quality tenants when you fail to perform necessary maintenance and repairs. And, as landlords know, the turnover process and the search for good tenants can be costly. Therefore, in the long run, paying for maintenance will actually save you money.
Additionally, keeping your rental property in tiptop shape will help preserve and even increase its property value. So, when the time comes for you to sell, you can sell it for a profit. The bottom line is, regular maintenance ensures higher yields and helps you receive a return on your investment.
What Does Property Maintenance Involve?
What is considered maintenance on rental property? Does property management include maintenance? As with any type of property, rental properties demand routine maintenance. This can range from the exterior and interior cleaning to damage control.
But, it can be hard to know what exact maintenance tasks you should complete without a proper guide. Use this rental property checklist to make sure you stay on top of property maintenance:
1. Do Some Pressure Washing
Exterior cleaning should be a part of any building maintenance checklist. A great way to extend the lifespan of your property is to clean it using a pressure washer.
There’s nothing like the combination of high-pressure water and cleaning detergents to get rid of stubborn dirt, grease, mold, and mildew. Apart from exterior walls and surfaces, you can also pressure wash your gutters to unclog them and prevent water damage.
Although you can rent pressure washers at your local home improvement store, it’s generally best to outsource the job to a pressure washing service. Operating a pressure washer can be confusing, and you might end up causing more damage than cleaning surfaces.
2. Replace Filters
Whether or not utilities are included in the rent, you should change the filters in your air conditioning or heating unit at least twice a year. When you allow the filters to get dirty, it can lead to higher utility bills because the unit needs to work harder. Worse yet, it can start to break down. Dirty or clogged air ducts will also require professional cleaning, which is an added expense on your part.
3. Check All Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to rental property management. Therefore, you should make a point to inspect all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on the property. Test them out to make sure they’re working as intended. You may need to change the batteries or conduct some repairs if they’re not working properly.
It’s best to take note of when you first purchased your alarms and detectors. A smoke alarm usually lasts for a decade, while carbon monoxide detectors have an average lifespan of about five years or so. Keeping track of these dates will allow you to determine when it’s time to replace them.
4. Inspect for Water Leaks and Water Damage
Rental maintenance should also include regular inspections for water damage or leaks. Look for signs such as soft spots on the walls, ceilings, or roofs. You should also check showers, toilets, around windows, and under sinks.
Generally, this type of maintenance work should take place after heavy rain or when snow or ice has started to melt away. It’s also a good idea to check for water leaks on days when it’s hot and humid, as pipes usually sweat as a result of the temperature.
Spotting water leaks before they worsen can save you a lot of money and trouble. Addressing these leaks early on will prevent water damage, which can be very expensive to fix. Additionally, water damage can cause mold to grow. And, according to the CDC, mold can pose health risks.
5. Schedule Regular Exterminations
Pests such as rodents and insects are not only nuisances, but they can also cause damage to your property. To address or prevent the issue, make sure to schedule monthly exterminations. If you own an entire apartment complex, it’s recommended to exterminate the entire property instead of just one unit. This will ensure that no pests remain. As with pressure washing, exterminations are best left in the hands of a professional.
6. Drain the Water Heater
Over time, sediment can accumulate in water heaters and lead to clogging. When you leave it as is, your water heater can start to malfunction and require replacing, which usually costs a lot of money. As such, make sure to include flushing the water heater as a part of your rental property checklist. Do this once or twice a year.
7. Unclog the Sinks
A clogged sink is one of the most common plumbing issues landlords face. The good news is you can prevent sinks from clogging through routine cleaning. If your sink is in healthy condition, you can even do it yourself using household items. Pour half a cup of baking soda first, then wait five minutes before continuing with a cup of vinegar and hot water. After waiting another five minutes, finish it off with more hot water.
8. Survey Caulking and Grout
Well-maintained caulking and grout ensure water doesn’t leak through the walls and floors. Therefore, you should assess the state of your shower caulking and the grout between your tiles. If you find any cracks or openings, make sure to seal them up.
Who Is Responsible for Property Repairs and Maintenance?
Is it the tenant’s responsibility to replace light bulbs? Do landlords take care of landscaping? As a landlord, these are only some of the questions you might ask.
Generally, the landlord is responsible for any maintenance work that ensures the property remains a habitable home. Some of the maintenance and repair duties that fall under a landlord’s care include but are not limited to:
- Comply with all building and safety codes
- Maintain all common areas
- Providing proper trash receptacles
- Providing running water
- Ensuring all essential services are working (such as electrical, plumbing, heating, gas, and included appliances)
- Make repairs to maintain the livable condition of the property
Tenants should also perform maintenance in the following ways:
- Properly dispose of trash
- Maintain a reasonably clean unit
- Ensure there are no safety hazards
- Comply with building and housing codes
- Take general care of the property
It’s a good idea to include such language in your lease agreement. Though, you aren’t allowed to write a clause that stipulates that the tenant shall take responsibility for all maintenance and repairs.
How Much Does It Cost to Maintain a Rental Property?
You can’t really predict how much you will spend in a year on property maintenance. A good rule of thumb, though, is to follow the 1 percent rule. According to this rule, landlords should allocate 1 percent of the total property value for maintenance costs. Other experts recommend setting aside 50 percent of the monthly rent for monthly maintenance and repairs.
Why You Should Consider Professional Help
Performing landlord duties, including property maintenance, can be time-consuming. If being a landlord isn’t your full-time job, it’s best to seek professional help. There are many companies that offer property maintenance services for a monthly fee. A property maintenance company will also usually have its own rental checklist, eliminating the need for you to draft one yourself.
On the other hand, you can hire a rental property management company. These rental management companies usually include property maintenance as a part of their package. Some companies even allow you to select services on an a la carte basis if, say, you don’t need extensive services.
Fulfilling Property Management Duties and Responsibilities
Property maintenance is an essential component of rental management. As a property owner, you must protect your investment. As a landlord, you must give your tenants a livable home. You can accomplish both with the help of a property management company.
Look for a property management company that suits your needs today. Filter through Rental Choice’s online directory by area to make your search easier!
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