Tips for Maintaining Your Rental Properties
If you're investing in rentals, maintenance can add to your expenses. Here are some tips for maintaining your rental properties.
Owning an investment rental property comes with its advantages and its challenges. As a property owner, you have certain responsibilities to your tenants. You need to ensure that the property that you are leasing out is in good condition and well maintained. Maintenance of a rental property is ongoing. You cannot simply wait for one day in the year and try to fix everything at once. This is not fair to the tenants, and it is definitely not the most economical way of approaching it. By doing consistent maintenance, you can prevent problems before they occur. After all, a few small fixes are a lot cheaper than one major repair. Here are some tips for how to maintain your rental properties without breaking the bank. These will keep your property in good condition and keep your tenants happy.
Table of Contents
Chipped Walls and Mold
If you have an older property, the walls and windows will require ongoing maintenance. A few small chips are not going to affect your tenants too much, but it is a good idea to fix them when they come up. Patching a wall is much easier than having to repaint an entire room. Mold is also difficult and unpleasant to remove, so sorting out the mold problem from the beginning will avoid issues down the track. Make sure your tenants know that you want to be informed of any mold or paint issues when they happen, so you can get them fixed quickly. Also properly sealing windows and vents can also help to prevent mold and avoid future costs. Maintenance of structural issues will also save you major repairs in the future. You need to look after what is likely your biggest investment. Tenants will rarely complain about small structural issues. So as a homeowner, you need to make sure you are getting the walls and windows checked every now and then when needed.
Depending on your property, there could be filters that will need to be cleaned or replaced periodically. For example, for an air-conditioning or heating system. Getting filters cleaned regularly means they will last longer before needing to be replaced. Clean filters can also prevent damage to surrounding areas such as walls and windows. McMath Realty suggests that filters for HVAC should be replaced monthly, and chimneys should be professionally cleaned once a year. Chimneys have the potential to make a lot of mess if they are not looked after, so you are definitely going to want to keep on top of that.
One area that can easily be overlooked is landscaping. You may be lucky enough to have a tenant that is a keen gardener and will look after the lawn and gardens, however depending on your rental agreement, often the tenants will not consider it their responsibility. To keep your property in good condition, you will want to maintain any outside space (if any). Consider hiring a gardener every few months to ensuring that trees and shrubs are trimmed. Also make sure snow is shoveled to keep out of trouble with the authorities. If you have expectations for your tenant, then ensure that it is written into the lease and understood.
Whether you operate through a real estate agent or not, there will be times when your tenant will need to communicate things that need to be maintained or fixed. These will be done through a service request (by phone or in person). It is important that you investigate each request and determine what needs to be done (if anything). Some service requests will be urgent, and you will be legally obligated to act within a certain timeframe, so make sure you are aware of this to avoid getting into trouble. It is your property in question, so it is in your best interest to answer all service requests.
Of course, no matter how much preventative maintenance you do, things are going to happen. Whether it’s something small like a cracked benchtop, or something major like a leaky roof, the need for repairs will always exist. It is important that major repairs are addressed quickly – there could be legal implications for inaction – especially for structural, plumbing, or electricity issues. When your tenants put in a repair request, try to get information as to how it happened and determine whether you need to cover the cost completely, or if your tenant is somewhat responsible. Unfortunately, acts of God (natural disasters) are nobody’s fault, however, responsibility for repairs falls onto the owners.
If you are smart, you would have received a security deposit when you leased out your property. This money will usually be 4-6 weeks of rent. This deposit is only to be used for costs sustained by the tenant. For example, if the tenant leaves and you find a large hole in the wall, you would use the security deposit to fix it. Or if there are cigarette burns on the carpet. You cannot use the deposit for maintenance or normal wear and tear. The security deposit is essential as it gives you peace of mind that there are funds to fix things if needed.
Maintenance is something that can be easily overlooked by a property owner, especially if you have a tenant that does not speak up when things happen. This could lead to major repairs needing to be completed down the track, and as previously mentioned, it is much better to spend a small amount of money keeping your rental property in good shape than spending a lot to fix major issues. Specific maintenance required will depend on your property and the rental agreement, however keeping ahead with the main maintenance issues listed will be better for everyone in the long run.
Charles is the founder of infoSpike.com. His real estate investing experience started in 2004 and he is currently focused on rental property projects. He enjoys learning about real estate investing, personal finance, and marketing. Read more about Charles here.