As rewarding as owning a rental property can be, there is always the challenge of maintenance. While many property owners use property management companies such as Utopia Management for addressing these challenges, any property owners and managers who don’t should expect, and be prepared for, maintenance and repairs. Being prompt, attentive, and thorough can save you money and hassle further down the line. Not to mention, one of the best ways to keep your tenants happy (and score renewed leases) is to maintain their living spaces as you would your own. Keep reading for the 5 best ways to maintain your rental property and minimize any damage that tenants might cause.
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You should consider property maintenance as a dominant force in property management; without it, your time and/or investments can turn upside down in a heartbeat. That being said, the heart of maintenance is inspections. You should have a system of standardized inspections that allows you to consistently assess the state of your property, your tenant’s interaction with the property, and any work that may be needed. Schedule inspections with your tenants at move-in, each quarter, and at move-out. This alone can prevent numerous common problems. Even simply driving by the property and giving it a look-over can be helpful in keeping things the way you intend.
Do your best to plan maintenance out as much as possible. Sometimes maintenance can be an emergency, but not always. Any periods of vacancy should be utilized to conduct as much maintenance as possible. This can increase the value of your property, attract new tenants, and prevent headaches down the road.
Big exterior maintenance tasks should be completed (if possible) during pleasant times of the year. Nobody likes working in the bitter cold any more than they do the sweltering sun.
Make the most of your inspections by identifying small issues before they become big issues. Your tenants will appreciate your proactive commitment to improving their living space much more than any urgent attempts to remedy a disaster that could have been prevented much sooner.
People Before Property
Sometimes it is easy to forget that your property’s usefulness depends on the people who use it. A good relationship between you and your tenant can go a long way in making your property management experience fulfilling and positive. A good transaction should make both parties happy, so this should be your goal as a property owner/manager.
Communicate with your tenants and get to know them as much as you feel is appropriate. This mindset can make everyone more comfortable in expressing their concerns, when necessary, and can ultimately help you keep your property in good shape. A friendly attitude during inspections, maintenance, and other interactions can go a long way in keeping good tenants for years, helping to secure a relationship that is mutually beneficial, and easing the often difficult process of maintaining property. Keep in mind that many tenants have had negative experiences with landlords and property managers in the past, so this is your opportunity to shine.
Put yourself in your tenants’ shoes–ask yourself if you’d be happy in their renting situation. Be transparent with them about what they can expect from you, and what you expect from them. They are more likely to respect your property if they know that you are caring for it, that you care for them, and that you expect them to be considerate occupants. Focus on people and rest assured that good management will follow.
It should also be noted that forming mutually beneficial relationships is not limited to you and your tenants. Any services you may hire to help with property maintenance (such as contractors, landscapers, etc.) can be incredibly useful for creating a network of reliable relationships. Treat these service people with care and appreciation, and they will take care of you in the future. They will appreciate you as a loyal customer and will be indispensable as you continue to hire them in the future.
The responsibility of landscaping typically varies between properties. At the end of the day, this will boil down to the agreements you make with your tenants. Your priorities as a landlord should be reflected from the initial interaction with new tenants. If tenants are expected to maintain the exterior premises of the property, this should be clearly delineated in the leasing agreement.
If desirable curb appeal is a must for you, then you should consider shouldering the responsibility for landscaping yourself. The expense of doing so can always be incorporated into monthly rent payments, if necessary. Hire a landscaping company or do it yourself; your tenants will enjoy the result. However, be sure to keep things simple. A neutral, clean, but bare-bones exterior is your best bet in keeping everything in a practical, well-maintained condition. Plant shrubs and grasses that are low-maintenance, native to the area, and resilient throughout the year.
Do it Yourself
It is important to consider how much maintenance work you would like to do yourself. Many of the most important parts of property maintenance are also the easiest to perform, so as long as you have the time or inclination to physically visit the property, these are some things you should try to do:
- Keep an eye out for leaks and water damage
- Keep gutters cleared of debris
- Re-caulk bathrooms to keep things clean and prevent mold growth
- Tighten fixtures, handles, and hardware around the house that may have become loose with use
- Inspect for any signs of pests (termites, rodents, ants, etc.)
- Ensure that safety equipment is functioning, such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors
- Regularly replace air filters
- Make sure trees on the property are not obstructing anything like powerlines, and are free from breaks or rot that may result in dangerous/destructive falling debris
You may like to do more advanced maintenance yourself, and this should be encouraged. The more you do yourself, the more money you save from hiring others to perform the work. Do not be intimidated by every issue that you cannot immediately solve. The internet is your friend when it comes to property management. Never hesitate to consult with Google before deciding to hire a professional. Many things that seem like trouble can be quite easy to fix. For example, clogs in your plumbing and drain backflow can usually be solved by renting a plumber’s snake for a couple of hours (~$50) from the hardware store, and running it down your plumbing clear outs. If none of this makes sense to you, Google it!
If DIY work simply isn’t for you, or if you think you might need a little bit of help with managing your property, we recommend consulting with a reputable property management business such as Utopia Management. These types of companies allow you to rent your property without concerning yourself with the nitty gritty details, ultimately saving you time, money, and hassle.Tags: Property