There’s a lot to being a landlord. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you hire contractors, or do both, there’s definitely a lot to the job. One of your roles is keeping your property up to code and in a livable condition for your tenants. We can help.
Here are 10 ways to keep on top of your property maintenance duties:
- Establish Roles Early
The lease is one of the more important parts of your maintenance duties. Before your tenants move in, establish their responsibilities right away. Usually your tenant is responsible for light upkeep and minor maintenance. As a landlord, you’re responsible for the bigger jobs like fixing the plumbing and electrical systems. You also take care of normal wear and tear, as well as prepping the property for the next tenants. Always tell your tenants how they can reach you and in what time frame they can expect you to reply to their call. Open lines of communications are the best way to prevent problems from coming up down the line. Good communication can also make disagreements less heated.
- Set a Minimum Condition For Your Property
Before your tenant moves into your property, make sure that you document the condition of the apartment or house. Use a move-in/move out checklist and use your phone to take pictures and videos so that you don’t miss anything. This prevents disputes from happening, plus you’ll have proof should you need to withhold part or the whole security deposit for damages beyond normal wear and tear. While you should expect scratches on the floor and dings on the wall, holes in the wall, broken windows or dirty carpets are more than normal wear and tear and are a reason to deduct from a tenant’s security deposit. When your tenant moves in, let them know what condition you expect the property to be in when they leave.
- Create a Preventative Maintenance Schedule
By creating a preventative maintenance schedule, you can catch problems before they become costly for you and your tenants. Put a clause into the lease that states that your tenants are required to tell you about problems as they occur or face a fine. You should also examine the property every few months to look at all areas of the home. Nothing in your property will last forever, so plan ahead to fix the items when needed. For example, buy a new refrigerator when you see a good sale.
- Landscaping Should Be Simple
Don’t make any changes to your property to your land that you don’t have to. All you have to do is keep the landscaping simple enough so that your property looks presentable. By doing this, you won’t have to create more work for yourself or your tenants. If your tenants have a green thumb, let them purchase a planter box for the property.
- Standardize Everything
By standardizing paint, hardware, flooring and appliances, keeping everything across the board the same can save you a lot of headaches. Use the same paint in all of your properties. This keeps you from having to remember which apartment has which color paint.
- Document Everything
Property management is a business, so projects and repairs may be tax deductible. Make sure that you save all of your receipts and keep track of all the time you spend on projects.
- Make It Feel Like Home
Every time a new tenant moves in, they should move in to a freshly painted, clean home. Get your carpets professionally cleaned and the walls painted. This lets you become a great landlord.
- Try to Automate Whenever You Can
Even the best landlords can forget to change the batteries in their tenant’s smoke alarm. Choose items that have long battery lives, that turn on automatically, or are tamper resistant. Try motion light outside of the property, solar lights that illuminate the pathway, or programmable thermostats. While these things could cost more at the outset, it is more than worth it to keep your property safe and livable.
- Call in the Pros (When Needed)
Unless you’re a talented handyman, you will need to call in the professionals once in a while. Meanwhile, you should know where the property’s electrical panel and water and gas shut-offs so that you can be prepared in case of an emergency. In some states, electrical, plumbing and HVAC work needs to be done by professionals. Consult your local building authority to ensure that you’re following the guidelines correctly.
- Save For That Rainy Day
One day, something will need to be fixed. Have a rainy day fund that you can use for maintenance and repairs for your property. Your tenant shouldn’t have to wait until your next payday to get a new refrigerator or stove. You might even have to find your tenant temporary lodgings or fix the property before a claim goes through. You need to expect the unexpected.
Since you’re a landlord, rental property maintenance is going to take up a lot of your time and energy. But if you prepare for emergencies and the unexpected, you’ll be on top of the game.