You can pay a little now, or a lot later…
We just took over the management of a tenant occupied property, where the property owner had been a “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) landlord for many years. We were told the property was in fine condition.
Fortunately, we send out a survey to tenants when we take over management of a property. The survey we received back from this tenant alerted us to several serious issues with the property: a roof leak, a leak under the kitchen sink and a loose electrical plug. These problems had been going on for some time and the tenant “just never got around” to alerting the owner.
The roof leak and the electrical issues were fairly easy to fix, but the leaking waterline under the kitchen sink had rotted out the base of the sink cabinet, lifted the laminate floor boards and caused some rotting of the kitchen subfloor. The owner authorized us to fix the problems, which were much more costly than routine maintenance would have been.
Many DIY landlords have probably experienced a version of this same issue or they will when a tenant moves out or finally complains when a problem gets big enough. It’s sad, but many landlords are probably more proactive about their car’s oil changes than they are about property maintenance. When it comes to their rental properties many landlords assume that as long as the rent is coming in on time – everything is ok.
How can a landlord be more proactive on property maintenance?
Well for starters, they should set up a consistent and regular maintenance schedule. For an example, we’ll share our schedule:
- Quarterly surveys to tenants asking them if there are any maintenance issues. Since water is the single biggest issue that can cause major damage we need to keep ahead of any major problems.
- Annual interior/exterior walk-throughs typically coinciding with lease extensions or tenant turnover.
- Cold weather email warnings to tenants. When below zero weather is predicted, we give tenants tips to prevent freezing pipes.
- Spring and Fall newsletters to tenants with tips, reminders, and appropriate seasonal punch list including batteries in smoke detectors, detaching/attaching exterior hoses, trimming shrubs, etc
We have checklists for both the exterior and interior walk-throughs mentioned above and try to improve them annually.
As you can see our preventive maintenance plan is not complex or difficult. It does take commitment to adhere to it though, which can be a challenge for a DIY landlord. Unfortunately, if you don’t stay on top of maintenance for your rental properties, they may not turn out to be the great investment you purchased them for.