Rental Property Maintenance

Rental Property Maintenance
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Rental property can be on of the biggest and most valuable assets in a landlord’s investment portfolio. For that reason, it is not only important to place a qualified tenant and have a proper lease agreement & enforcement in place. It is equally important to understand how to preserve the property’s value and potentially increase it. When managing a property, a landlord should have a maintenance strategy in place and where their money should be spent. When you don’t have a plan, upkeep can be easily overlooked and the consequences can be costly.

What is Property Maintenance? 

What is Property Maintenance?

Property Maintenance includes caring for the building mechanical equipment, infrastructure, appliances, landscape, driveway, and other exterior/internal elements of a property.

Value of Property Maintenance

  1. Extends the life of the infrastructure and amenities of the house: HVAC, flooring, in home appliances, roofing, windows, building structures.
  2. Increase the values of the property as assets kept in good working condition.
  3. Reduce cost on emergency repairs, contractor fees, and replacement.
  4. Less work and reduce stress knowing the property in good condition and have better control of the assets.
  5. Satisfied tenants which will lead to less vacancies, less damages to property in return maximize income potential.

Typical Property Maintenance Services

  • Appliance maintenance and repairs: HVAC, HVAC filter, washer, dryer, dishwashers, water heater, garbage disposal, and etc.
  • Lawn care, tree trimming, and landscaping.
  • External repairs: sidewalks, roofs, gutters, windows, and etc.
  • Plumbing and electrical work: bathroom, bedroom, sink, and etc.
  • Flooring, carpentry, cabinet and doors.
  • Pest control and extermination.
  • Smoke and carbon dioxide alarms.
  • Common area upkeep.
  • Painting.

In addition to the maintenance items listed above there are many situation services that could be added (pool, hot tub, etc.) In Northwest Arkansas due to our seasonal change and potential extreme weather you could be dealing with flood, tornado, heat waves and frigid temperatures which could require more specific type of maintenance strategy.

Now that you are familiarized with the what and why of property maintenance is important, let us get into the how. Property Maintenance typical can be break into at in 4 major parts:

  • Tenant Maintenance and Repairs
  • Reactive Maintenance
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Credible and Reliable Contractors

Tenant Maintenance and Repairs

When it comes to regular maintenance activities like mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, changing, lightbulb there is little liability involved. It is important that the tenant understand what is expected of them to upkeep the property, this should be communicated prior to tenant move in and included within the lease agreement. It is often time beneficial to leave the basic level of service to the tenant. This allows tenants to feel more ownership in maintaining the value of the property.

It is vital to also have a policy around tenant repairs. It may seem simpler to allow tenants to perform simple maintenance and repair work, but there are risks involved. Tenants are typically not trained to perform quality work, which could lead to a more costly repair and they are not insured to perform repairs. Unfortunately, you as a landlord could be held liable if a tenant was hurt while carrying out this work. Whether you chose to allow your tenants to carry out repairs or against it, it is best that this policy is clear stated on the lease agreement.

Reactive Maintenance

As a landlord you will get plenty of call, text or email at any time of the day from the tenant whenever something goes wrong. Typical most of those requests will happen after working hours and on the weekend when the tenant is normally home. Having a defined system or method that the tenants can use to request maintenance is crucial. It is important to have a separation between a regular maintenance request (appliances not performing, leaky toilet, etc.) vs emergency problem (clogged plumping, flooding, electrical shortage, etc.)

Having a maintenance management system in place with communication method will lead to satisfied tenants. Tenants often time just need assurance that somebody is getting the message and working on fixing the problem. In addition, great communication with the tenant will help identify the root cause of the problem and allow you to send out the correct contractor for the task. Which will save you money as a landlord.

Preventive Maintenance

There is a saying that, it’s cost a lot less to prevent a failure from occur than to fix it when it happens. As a landlord you should create a preventative maintenance schedule with specific task to perform on a monthly, seasonal and yearly basis. Schedule maintenance will extend the life of valuable assets, minimize costly and urgent repairs and maximize the value of your investment. Here is some of the preventative maintenance you should add to your check list: 

Spring & Summer

Spring & Summer

  • Check for any weather damage to buildings do to snow, wind, and rain.
  • HVAC cooling system, inspected and cleaned get it ready for the hot summer months.
  • Change out HVAC filter this will lengthen the life of the system.
  • Check for functional and replace smoke and CO2 alarm batteries.
  • Ensure the grass trim and maintain landscaping. Increase watering for the hot summer months to prevent grass from dying.
  • Trim overgrows tree.
  • Trim weak and dying tree limbs to prevent damage to the property during stormy weather.
  • Check for any gaps in windows, doors, and wall to reduce summer pests.

Fall & Winter

  • HVAC heating system inspected and cleaned get it ready for the cold winter months.
  • Change out HVAC filter.
  • Clear property of all dead leaves and branches.
  • Clean and clear the gutters of any clogs or debris.
  • Empty and turn off sprinkler or any outside irrigations systems.
  • Insulate any water pipes near windows and doors to prevent them from freezing.

In addition to those items listed, depend on your property location and amenities you might need to add on more preventive maintenance measurement (ex. a pool, outside decking and patio space, etc.) There is also some emergency preventive maintenance that could come up throughout the year. As an example, in the past winter Northwest Arkansas experienced an extreme freeze temperature of -21 degrees Fahrenheit, there was huge number of water pipes freeze and busted. Majority of the time during extreme temperature situation there going to be news about it ahead of time, as a landlord or property manager you can reach out to the tenant and put in place preventative solution. For the freezing case in Northwest Arkansas, you can make sure that any outside pipes or waterline is property insulated and ask the tenant to leave the water dripping during the event to prevent frozen pipes and look out for any signs of water problem.

Credible and Reliable Contractors

Credible and Reliable Contractors

As a landlord or a property manager you will have to deal with maintenance issue at one point or another. When that happen, you need to talk to the tenants or visit the property to identify the root cause of the problem. Once you know the root cause then you will need a find a contractor that specialize in that trade to address the issue. Here are a couple of things you need to consider when searching for contractors.

Experience: are they an expert at their trade and craft? These are issues that need a very specialize skill set like electrical, HVAC, pumping; For more generalize fix like damage door, window, holes in the wall, etc. you will able to address it with a handy man instead.

License: are they license? Typically, on more of the specialize trade like electrical, HVAC will require the technician to be license to do the work. Un-license work can cause increase in liability, result in major problem, and cost you money down the road.

Insure: are they insure? You want to make sure that the contractor or company you hire is insured, there are liabilities involved when a technician is onsite work on a problem and interact with the tenants. As a landlord you need to make sure that does come back to you on a off chance that something happens.

Available & On-time: Are they available to contact and on-time time once a schedule is set? Availability is important specially when those emergency issues come up and you need someone to take care of it before further damages. Being on time is equally important, your time and the tenant time is valuable, a good contractors will respect your time.

Cost: How are they compared to their peers? As a landlord, you typically want to go for the cheapest cost to increase your profitability. However, make sure you understand what you are paying for what is included in the service. There a saying: buy cheap, buy twice.

It is also a good idea to have back up contractors for each of those trade, due to the fact that sometime contractor will get tied down with multiple requests and can not get to your property in a timely manner.

As a real estate investor and a landlord maintenance issue can quickly erase your returns. Having a well-planned out maintenance strategies will help ensures that you stay profitable and keep producing return for as long as possible. If this is something that you as a landlord don’t have time for or don’t want to take on, it is recommend that you should hire a professional property manager to help with the process. It might be an added cost up front to your bottom line but in the long run a good property manager you will save more money in return.

This should wrap up this article about Property Maintenance. We hope you find is information helpful! If you have any suggestion on what we should write about next please send us a message.

If you have any question or concern, feel free to reach out to us here at PMI Heritage. With years of experience and well build method/process in the property management space, we are more than happy and qualified to help you with anything you might need. Our service area cover all of Northwest Arkansas:  Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville, Bella Vista, Springdale, Centerton and all the surrounding areas.