Keeping your rental home well maintained is the surest way to preserve your property’s value and decrease tenant turnover. It is also one of your legal obligations as a landlord to provide habitable rental premises according to Fair Housing Laws. However, rental maintenance can take up quite a big chunk of your time and rental income, especially if you are a rookie landlord. In this article, we focus on some useful tips for maintaining your rental property without making losses in your income.
While the law expects you to keep your rental in good shape, you do not have to pay for all the maintenance costs yourself. Among the things you are responsible for maintaining are:
- Structural maintenance such as roofs, floors, walls, and staircase
- Plumbing, heating, and wiring
- Paintwork and landscaping
- Safety features such as fire escapes, smoke alarms, HVAC filters
- Fixtures and fittings e.g. door locks, sinks, and light switches
- Pest control
- Electrical appliances
The tenant is responsible for maintaining items such as light bulbs, carpets, garbage disposal, and gardening during their stay. Including these obligations in the lease agreement will ensure that you do not have to shoulder the rental’s entire maintenance bill.
‘A stitch in time saves nine’ applies to rental maintenance. Instead of waiting for systems to break down, you can replace worn out fixtures, wiring, pipes, seals, and valves before they malfunction. You can also anticipate seasonal needs and carry out some maintenance work in advance. For example, when winter is coming, fix all leaks and drafts around doors and windows, service the central heating system and unclog drains. Pre-emptive Maintenance allows you to plan, budget and implement maintenance projects at your pace. They also allow you to take advantage of seasonal sales at hardware and utility costs.
Regular property inspections are useful for identifying areas that need fixing before they even cause trouble. For example, a routine inspection can help spot the beginning of molding which you can eliminate before it becomes a health hazard. Inspecting rentals every three months helps project future maintenance costs so you can budget for them. You also get a chance to see if the tenant is keeping the house clean and well maintained as agreed in the agreement.
Occasionally, emergency repairs will be needed. In winter, for example, water pipes may freeze, or the heating system may break down. It’s a good idea to reserve some of your rental income for emergencies. If you do not have a reserve, it is possible to access loans for repairs. Additionally, investing in insurance can help finance emergency repairs caused by flooding, storms, fire, among other risks.
Partner with Repair People
Building Relationships with local repair shops, contractors and service providers can help make rental maintenance easier. You could save money by negotiating better rates with them, and they will also prioritize your projects if you are a loyal client. Additionally, having your maintenance work carried out by the same provider is a good way to keep track of progress and avoid fraudsters. Even if you choose to DIY some of the maintenance work on your rental home, you should still build a list of contacts of reliable contractors in case of emergency repairs that you are unable to handle.
Engage a Property Management Company
If you have a multi-unit rental or are a new landlord, keeping track of maintenance records, schedules and budgets can be overwhelming. In this case, a property management company in Santa Clara can help manage your property’s maintenance. Because of their many partnerships with contractors, they may be able to carry out projects more efficiently and affordably. They can also help with the inspections, providing you with reports that can help your financial planning.
Use high-quality fixtures and building materials
When the bills are piling up, you may be tempted to cut corners and compromise on the quality of materials you use for rental maintenance. While this may save you money short term, it is never advisable as a prudent landlord. You may be forced to replace or repair these items sooner than anticipated as they are bound to wear out or break down faster. They may also expose you to lawsuits if they malfunction or cause damage or injury to your tenants or on-site workers. Buying quality building materials improves the value of your rental and safeguards against potential hazards. It also saves you money long term when you buy durable and hard-wearing materials.
Standardize Your Units
If you have a multi-unit rental, it is a good idea to standardize the finishing, fixtures, and appliances. Doing this makes it easier to do maintenance and may even save you money. For example, appliances can be serviced at similar intervals by the same contractor. You can store leftover paint or replacement parts for use on another unit. You will enjoy bulk discounts at stores when you buy paint, fittings and other items. Also, when the units are standardized, tenants have no grounds for demanding expensive renovations to suit their preferences. You will save money when new residents are coming in as you will only be handling the necessary improvements, not changing paint colors or replacing vanity sinks.
Educate your tenants
If you want your tenants to keep and leave your house in good condition, you should teach them about proper care and maintenance routines. Providing them with contracts for services such as carpet cleaning, lawn mowing, and house cleaning is a good start. You could also provide user manuals for appliances to ensure proper usage. If you have rules about pets, parking, garbage disposal or anything else that will affect the condition of your house, communicate them in the lease agreement, so they are clear from the start. Inform them that you will be inspecting the rental to encourage compliance.
Lastly, if all the above seems like too much work, consider engaging the services of property managers in Santa Clara for hassle free and profitable rental maintenance.