Maintenance can be a landlord’s worst nightmare. It’s unavoidable and eats into profits when not properly budgeted. But it doesn’t have to be a big stress-inducer! In fact, there are ways to better go about it! Remove stress and guesswork by following these 8 tips for managing maintenance at your rental!
Managing Maintenance at Your Rental Like a Pro!
Your rental is a business. From the relationship with your residents to how you track and manage income and expenses, things should be professional from day one. Managing maintenance at your home should be no different. So how do you accomplish this?
Set Clear Responsibilities from the Start
Setting expectations for how maintenance will be handled and who is responsible for what is the first step. Make sure your lease clearly defines who is responsible for what, you or your resident. Is your resident responsible for lawn care? What about snow removal? What minor things can they try before submitting a maintenance request? Make sure to spell it out clearly in your rental agreement. The lease should also explain how maintenance requests need to be submitted, such as requiring your tenant to submit requests in writing, as well as what happens if damage occurs because your tenant didn’t notify you. Have your lease reviewed by a real estate attorney for the best way to outline these requirements. They’re the experts on what can and can’t be included and can provide you with a solid and legally compliant document.
Many disputes arise around maintenance, including whether or not something was like that before the tenant moved in. It’s easy to claim than an issue was preexisting. This is why it’s important for both landlords and tenants to document the condition of the home at move-in and move-out. Take pictures or videos of the condition of the home both inside and out before your new residents move in and encourage your tenants to do the same once they’ve taken possession. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. Not only does this help you determine what damage your tenant caused during the term of the lease, it also gives you solid proof in the event a dispute comes up.
Prevention is Key
Stay on top of maintenance at your rental by performing preventative maintenance. Tune ups and routine cleaning and servicing of all of your home’s systems can give you a leg up over emergency issues and prevent problems before they spiral out of control. Proactive is better than reactive, so stay on top of minor issues as well as regular maintenance in order to keep your rental in tip-top shape.
Put Eyes On It
Routine inspections throughout the term of the lease have multiple benefits. Not only do they help with lease compliance, but they can also help you find maintenance issues that are still outstanding or that perhaps your tenants missed. So put eyes on your property. Make sure to work routine visits into your agreement and notify your residents when you’ll be stopping by. And while you’re there, document the condition of the home with pictures. Just be mindful of your tenants’ privacy while you do by complying with all notice requirements.
Simple is Better
While you may love to have elaborate landscaping or décor in your own home, simple is better when it comes to your rental. Choose amenities and features that are easy for you and your resident to maintain, like wood floors and low-key landscaping. Residents don’t want something that’s hard to keep up. And when it comes time to replace certain features, choosing ones that are easy to maintain save you time and money.
Write it Down
Keeping track of when and what’s done at your rental property is crucial. Be sure to hold on to receipts for any and all maintenance done at your home. This not only helps you know what’s been done, but it’s key for tax time, too. Request that your resident submit all maintenance requests in writing so you can keep a paper trail. Once a repair has been done, document it with pictures. Having solid documentation can save you in the long run and is a big part of maintaining your rental like a business.
Don’t Be Afraid to Call the Pros
Some jobs just aren’t DIY compatible, like plumbing, electrical, or even some handyman repairs. Managing maintenance effectively means keeping a list of professional contractors and specialists for those very occasions. Have a running list with different contacts for each repair type just in case your go-to plumber can’t come out right away. Knowing who to call in an emergency situation relieves a lot of the stress that comes with those situations, too, for both you and your resident.
Plan ahead and work maintenance expenses into your budget, even if you don’t expect them to come up. The thing about emergencies is that they’re unexpected. Your water heater doesn’t wait to leak when you’re ready to replace it. Not to mention how quickly you address the issue and get it fixed is critical to keeping your tenants happy. They’ll remember (and tell everyone) just how well or horribly the situation was handled. So set aside a rainy-day fund for maintenance at your rental. While you may still cringe when making those payments, it certainly helps to have that money set aside in preparation.
Managing maintenance at your rental well is key to property management success, so be sure to take these 8 tips to heart!