If you own a rental property, you already know there’s a lot to think about on a month-to-month basis. From attracting and finding good tenants to collecting rent, renting out an apartment, condo, or home requires a lot of time and attention. It can also get expensive: rental properties experience all the same problems—leaks, broken appliances, and more—that normal single-family homes do. In this article, we’ll review the steps you can, and should, take to prevent your rental’s repair costs from getting out-of-hand.
Invest in Preventative Maintenance
It’s right there in the name: effective preventative maintenance can help you avoid major breakdowns and repairs in your property. It’s worth the investment. Want to prevent issues with your rental’s air conditioner in the summer or furnace in the winter? Be sure to call your local HVAC company and schedule spring and fall HVAC tune-ups. Not only does professional HVAC maintenance reduce the risk of an in-season breakdown, but it will also make the system more energy-efficient and reduce the wear-and-tear on it as a whole.
Of course, preventative maintenance goes beyond just your rental property’s air conditioner and furnace. You should similarly have a plumbing professional out annually to maintain the water heater, check the basement sump pump, and inspect the inside of your drain pipes for any clogs that are forming. The foresight to handle such essential maintenance can really be a major difference-maker for your rental.
Always Work with Professionals
For many new, first-time property owners, there’s a strong temptation to take on repairs, maintenance, and other projects yourself. After all, that’s an easy way to cut down on your overhead, right? Unfortunately, that rarely ends up being the case. Even the handiest of homeowners doesn’t have the experience, training, and tools to deal with every problem. Ask any veteran property owner, and they’ll tell you: it’s easy to get in over your head. As the saying goes, when you’re in a hole, the first step is to stop digging. Call in a professional.
Our recommendation is that you establish a list of locally trusted contractors with different areas of expertise. Make sure you have several backup options, in case your preferred plumber or electrician can’t make it to the rental property during an emergency.
Of course, this isn’t to say you can’t take on anything in the property. After all, it makes sense for landlords to handle a wide variety of projects in their rental, including laying new vinyl or laminate flooring, repainting interior walls, and more.
Be a Proactive Landlord
Not every repair call you get from your tenants is going to be a life-or-death situation, but there are certainly many scenarios where quick action can save you money down the road. For example, if your renter calls you to tell you that there is water pooling at the bottom of the water heater, you should immediately send a plumber out to the property to take a closer look: a leaking water heater could be a warning sign that the tank is compromised and at risk of bursting in the near future. Remember: your renters are your eyes and ears on the ground in the property. In most cases, they’ll know of impending trouble before you do.
In addition to helping prevent disasters, being proactive and responsive has another benefit: it’ll keep your current tenants happy. Most renters get it: pipes leak, circuit breakers trip, and air conditioners occasionally stop working and need repairs. They’ll still be happy and satisfied with their rental experience as long as you put the time into communicating with them and resolving issues fast. Procrastination is only going to give problems the time to get worse—and your renters time to rethink signing their next lease.
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