Just as it is cheaper to keep a good tenant than find a new one, it’s less expensive to maintain your assets than replace them. While performing preventive maintenance might feel like spending money every month for little return, that small monthly investment is staving off a very expensive replacement.
It’s also keeping your tenants happy and happy tenants pay their rent. Additionally, with preventive maintenance already figured into your budget, your expenditures are more predictable than waiting for something to break and dealing with it all at once. So, here’s how to create a preventive maintenance schedule:
The first thing you need to do is compile a comprehensive list of all of the maintenance items your property has. Once you have this list assembled, prioritize it in terms of its importance to meeting the standards required to keep your property up to code. Those bread and butter items should get first priority.
Most rental properties have the following systems at minimum:
• Smoke Detectors
Some of these items need monthly attention while others only need consideration when a unit turns. For example, interior paint, carpets, kitchen appliances, windows and (to an extent) plumbing only need to be inspected during moves. However, cleaning carpets at least twice a year is a good way to make them last much longer. Checking drains and the caulking around sinks; showers and tubs at least once a year will stave off leaks capable of causing significant water damage. This is similar to a pre-purchase inspection, which you can read a guide here.
Inspecting windows annually to ensure they are airtight and their tracks are free of dirt and debris reduces heating and cooling costs. Cleaning gutters quarterly, (or more frequently if trees surround your property) also prevents water damage. Inspecting the roof makes sense to do while the gutters are being cleaned. Mold and debris should be removed, missing shingles and/or flashing should be attended to immediately.
While they might seem to be a benign item, clothes dryers can start fires if they aren’t maintained correctly. Lint buildup in the vent ducting can overheat and combust. Dryer vents should be professionally cleaned every two to three years. In the interim, you can check them quarterly to ensure warm air is flowing out. If it isn’t, you’ve probably got a blockage and should vacuum it out.
In addition to attending to the mechanical aspects of HVAC systems, their filters should be cleaned at least twice a year (some people even suggest doing this on a quarterly basis). Clean filters reduce energy bills, while dirty ones can also be a health hazard.
Fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected and cleaned annually. Soot can build up and cause smoke blowback into the room. It can also reduce the efficiency of the fireplace as well as generate hot embers and create a fire hazard. Smoke detectors should be inspected twice a year. Most people tie smoke detector maintenance to the changing of Daylight Saving Time.
In addition to beautification, landscaping protects your property. Trees keep the dwellings cooler in summer, while ground covering prevents erosion, which can undermine foundations, driveways and sidewalks. Grass should be mowed on a weekly basis and trees should be trimmed at least once a year. Check out these 4 outdoor makeover projects that can increase your home value.
Creating a preventive maintenance schedule will help you stay on top of these items. It will also keep your tenants happier, reduce your costs in the long run and ultimately make your property easier to manage.
Onerent is a rental leasing and management service for the modern owner and renter, managing over 1,000 properties across the San Francisco Bay Area, and Greater Seattle. Onerent offers free real estate education and resources on the Build with Onerent Blog. Find answers to all your legal maintenance finance and leasing questions as well as real estate news that affecting the housing market.
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