Keeping your properties well maintained is crucial to the success of any rental operation, and it is the most important thing a landlord should do to ensure long-lasting, profitable rentals.
Aside from meeting your legal obligation of making sure that your properties are habitable, staying on top of your properties’ maintenance needs will go a long way towards sustaining happy tenants, minimal vacancy, optimal rent revenue, and reduced potential for serious and expensive issues.
In this article, we will cover the steps that every landlord should take to properly maintain their properties.
Ensuring Your Properties are Habitable
It is every landlord’s responsibility to ensure the condition of their properties is good enough to be considered habitable. Some counties, cities, and states have clear criteria that have to be met, but in general, this means that your properties should be safe to live in, free of any structural and sanitary risk to your tenants.
Although landlords are not financially responsible for repairing tenant-caused damage that results in a property becoming uninhabitable, it’s a good idea to avoid such scenarios and remedy them as they come, as they could have an impact on your properties’ health moving forward. Fix any issues caused by your tenants quickly, and use the security deposit to recoup your costs.
Perform Routine Inspections and Maintenance
Make sure to always perform a thorough inspection prior to tenant move-in and immediately upon move-out. Since these will only be few and far between, we recommend that you also perform quarterly inspections to have a better handle on the condition of your properties and be able to spot any issues early.
Remember to abide by the terms of the lease and state laws that govern your ability to enter the unit, and always provide the appropriate notifications to your tenants before doing so.
A good inspection is one that is thorough and focuses on key areas that need constant maintenance or that have the potential to cause serious damage, both on the interior and exterior of a property.
Here are some of the important items to check off when performing an interior inspection:
- Paint – check for any fading, chipping or water damage eroding your paint. Keep your interior walls fresh by painting new coats when necessary.
- HVAC – check A/C filters that might need replacing, and ensure that heating systems are working properly without any red flags such as funny smells or impact to nearby walls and doors.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors – ensure that all smoke detectors are working properly, are not disabled, and that they have enough battery life. This is critical to your tenant’s safety, so it’s a must-do.
- Water heaters – keep these clean by draining and removing any debris once or twice every year. Check for any potential leaks or structural weaknesses.
Check off these items when performing an exterior inspection:
- Outside windows – check that all windows are sealed properly and that there aren’t any gaps that can let in rain or outside weather. Seal any gaps that you find.
- Exterior paint – make sure that there aren’t any cracks or spots where the paint is fading, and ensure that wood is always adequately painted to avoid rotting.
- Condition of roof – inspect the roof for any holes, missing or misplaced shingles, mold, and damaged flashing. Trim or cut down any trees or branches that pose a threat to your roof.
- Gutters – check that all gutters are clean of any large debris and leaves and that they are firmly in place. Replace any broken gutters and ones with damage to their shape or integrity.
- Foundation – check for any holes in your foundation, and make sure that ground around the property slopes away from it and not towards it, to prevent any water damage caused by heavy rain.
- Landscape – look for any trees that are potentially rotting, branches that could grow and hit the property, or roots that have the potential to spread far under your property.
- Crawl spaces – if you have any, ensure that they are clean and are not susceptible to holding water or wild animals.
- Electrical – check outdoor circuit interrupters for damage and test and trip them regularly.
While routine maintenance inspections can clue you in early to potentially large issues you might not otherwise have known about, regular maintenance is key to keeping known potential issues at bay.
Here is a list of regular maintenance items that every landlord should perform:
- Replace A/C filters frequently
- Check for leaks especially following storms or heavy rains
- Inspect shower tubs and tiles and re-chalk as needed
- Perform routine pest control
- Regular landscaping including trimming problematic trees and vegetation
- Tighten loose items such as sink faucets, door knobs, and check the locks
- Check fire extinguishers and replace if necessary
- Clean out gutters
Sometimes unforeseen maintenance issues arise despite your best efforts to prevent them. A clogged toilet, leaky faucet, new crack in the wall, or a nuisance pest could pop out of nowhere, and it’s crucial that you take care of these immediately.
Despite the frustration you may feel at the time, fixing these issues right away will not only prevent more expensive repairs down the line, but it will also reduce the stress on your tenants that have to live in the property.
Tenants with responsible and attentive landlords are more likely to treat the property as their own and will alert you to any new issues as opposed to keeping quiet so that they don’t have to deal with a drawn-out process or an upset landlord.
Repairing vs. Replacing Appliances
When it comes to broken appliances, you have two options – repair or replace. To decide on which to do, estimate the cost of repairing vs. replacing. If buying a new one is cheaper than repairing your existing appliance, you should always replace it.
If the appliance is reaching the end of it’s expected life and the cost of repairing is not that much lower than replacing, you should consider purchasing a new one. If the appliance is relatively new, check with your supplier to see if it is potentially covered under a warranty.
Doing it Yourself vs. Hiring Professionals
Deciding on whether to hire a professional and take care of an issue yourself comes down to your abilities, the issue at hand, and how you value your time.
Every landlord should be able to perform basic maintenance such as painting or replacing air filters. If you are comfortable with more complex tasks like sealing cracks, replacing tiles, fixing clogged toilets and leaks, then you can handle a good portion of your properties’ maintenance needs.
When it comes to more complex issues such as electrical and foundation work, or if you simply don’t have the time or desire to perform maintenance yourself, consider hiring local professionals to ensure the job is done safely and correctly the first time.
Renovate and Improve Your Properties
Renovating and improving your properties could result in a boost to your overall returns. Renters will almost always prefer a property that has been recently updated, and if the expected increase in rent in a short period of time is enough to justify a new kitchen or bathroom, you should strongly consider it.
Zuby Helps You Maintain Your Properties
Zuby is a free property management app designed for do-it-yourself landlords, property managers, and their tenants. When it comes to maintenance, Zuby does the work of finding qualified local service professionals for you.
Whether you need a general handyman, specialty cleaners, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, painters, exterminators or any other professional, you simply go through Zuby’s quick and easy ordering process right on the app and leave the rest to us.
You tell us what the issue is, where the property is located, and what time you would be available, and a qualified pro from our local networks that meets your criteria will reach out to you and confirm the appointment.
Aside from helping you hire local help, Zuby allows landlords to collect rent for free, screen potential renters with thorough background checks and credit reports, create digital lease agreements on their own, and stay better organized overall to ensure they make the most out of their properties. Zuby also has a bunch of benefits that your tenants will love.
So please check out our app and keep those properties well maintained!