As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you’ve been letting property maintenance slide, you might be throwing money away. Property management isn’t something that real estate investors really like to deal with — but it’s a necessary element to any investment.
Too many investors try to skimp on property maintenance, avoiding it as long as possible and then trying to get the job done cheap. Too many turnkey companies have a specific mentality of "stay small and keep it all." That includes keeping front-end repairs small to keep more of the monthly rental income. Problem is, if you do not do the property repairs and maintenance on a rental property, then you are absolutely losing money in lost rent and ongoing maintenance.
Don’t get us wrong — no one likes having to pay for maintenance. It’s a pain. But neglecting it can spell disaster for your investment properties down the line. If you are managing your own properties, then you know the headaches that maintenance can cause.
I am quite sure if you are reading this post and have been a client with our company for a few years, you have had maintenance calls. You have had unexpected expenses, which will be a part of every investment property. Some will happen quickly and some may take years to get that first call, but they will happen.
Certain maintenance issues can be let go in a pinch, but there are things that need regular, attentive maintenance to prevent costly repairs. If we regularly address property maintenance and keep a close eye on properties - especially when a property goes vacant between renters - then we can hold down the unexpected costs and maybe even keep maintenance to a routine schedule.
Property Maintenance Priorities
While this doesn’t seem like it should be high on the priority list, curb appeal is important. Landscaping and trees, if left alone, can become a real mess. Don’t let the lawn go until you need a bush hog. Make sure trees are trimmed back — in storms or from snow build up in winter, big branches falling onto your roof or someone’s car are best avoided. It also isn’t safe to have overgrown bushes, particularly near doors and windows — you don’t want to give any ill-intentioned individual a place to hide in the dark. Landscaping has as much to do with safety as it does aesthetic appeal.
The aesthetic look also helps attract the type of renter you want. Families are not attracted to ugly over-grown, unpainted houses. Period! So make sure your property attracts the right client from the start and your rental will perform better from the start.
Pay close attention to how the land slopes around your property. The foundation is susceptible to water seepage. Even if you don’t have a basement or crawl space that to be flooded (or grow mold and mildew), water can do serious damage to your property’s foundation. We are investing heavily in Dallas, TX and have learned that this is a tricky market with foundations. We pay very close attention to the soil, moisture and condition of the foundations when we first purchase properties. If you are investing in Texas, this is a smart area to keep an eye on their properties.
If you have vinyl siding on your investment property, diligent maintenance is a must. Cracked or broken sections can allow moisture and pests to get in, which can do untold damage over time. Keep the siding well-sealed and painted. Siding is a great, inexpensive alternative to wood siding or even brick siding. Most siding houses that we see today have brick foundations and siding uppers. In every case, it is extremely important to either check or have your property management company check the siding for any sides of wear and tear or deterioration.
Do we even need to say it? Maintaining a smoke detector is one of the easiest tasks out there — all it needs is a regular battery change and testing every once and awhile. Not only can smoke detectors save your property from being burned down, but they’re usually required to be working before you rent it out. Smoke detectors are easy to maintain and invaluable to the safety of your investment property and the tenants within it.
It is important that you send reminders to tenants to check the smoke detectors and change the batteries. Same goes for a fire extinguisher. Every property should have a fire extinguisher. In our properties, they are always located under the kitchen sink. A regular check every couple of years is a smart move to make sure they are still functioning properly.
Air Conditioner And Furnace Filters
These two systems are extremely important and expensive pieces of equipment. It is important that either you are changing your filters or asking tenants to change filters on a regular basis. This will help the systems last longer and cool and heat the homes more efficiently. It will also hold down the utilities cost for the tenant.
Roof and Gutters
No one ever wants to go through the expense and hassle of replacing an entire roof. You’ll want your property management to keep a close eye on roof condition and make repairs as soon as a problem comes up. They should watch for missing or broken shingles, signs of mold, moss and debris or any other damages.
Gutters, too, are important in diverting rainwater from your foundations. You’ll want to make sure that they get regularly cleaned, particularly throughout the fall where leaves and debris can clog them quickly. The other place to keep a close eye on gutters is the attachment to the facia board. This is a great place for water to get in under the shingles of a roof and that could cause real problems over time.
Property maintenance isn’t anyone’s idea of fun.
Taking the routine and necessary steps to keep your property in tip-top condition will save you the labor and expense of emergency repairs that could’ve been easily avoided.
What are your regular property maintenance priorities? Share with us in the comments.