As a property owner, you already know that regular maintenance is an essential aspect of managing your property. However, the question is: are you doing enough to prevent costly repairs and breakdowns?
Preventative maintenance is the key to reducing long-term expenses, minimizing tenant complaints, and increasing the lifespan of your property. Preventative maintenance involves a series of scheduled inspections, tune-ups, and repairs to keep your property in optimal condition. So, instead of waiting for a problem to arise, you're taking a proactive approach to identifying and fixing small issues before they escalate into major repairs.
Benefits of Preventative Maintenance
Preventative maintenance can save property managers and landlords thousands of dollars by reducing repair costs and increasing the lifespan of equipment. Regular maintenance can detect issues early, preventing them from escalating into costly repairs.
For example, lawn care is a critical component of maintaining your property's curb appeal and value. Bi-weekly lawn mowing is a typical preventive measure that costs around $50-$250 per service for a 5,000 sq. ft. lawn, according to Jobber. On the other hand, reactive maintenance may cost you $500 to $600 to reseed the lawn, $1,000 to $3,000 for sod installation, and $200 for dead lawn removal, in addition to bi-weekly maintenance.
Another example is your rental property’s roof, which is famous for being an incredibly expensive repair. Regular roof inspections every two years (or every four years for newer roofs) may cost around $200, but this is a preventive approach that can save you from expensive reactive maintenance. A reactive response may cost you $4,000 to $10,000 for a total roof replacement.
Apart from saving you money, preventative maintenance can also increase the lifespan of appliances, reducing the need for expensive replacements. For example, regularly cleaning and maintaining washers and dryers can extend their lifespan, allowing them to function for much longer.
Understanding Your Rental Property's Maintenance Needs
In order to develop a comprehensive preventative maintenance system for your rental property, it's essential to first gain a clear understanding of the maintenance requirements specific to your property. A thorough inspection of both the interior and exterior of the property is an effective starting point, which can be performed by the landlord or a professional inspector. During this inspection, potential issues should be identified, along with their underlying causes.
It's vital to be proactive in addressing any of these identified issues, such as air conditioning repairs, pest control, or water heater maintenance, to prevent them from becoming more significant problems that could cause severe property damage. Landlords should develop a prioritized preventative maintenance checklist that takes into account both their own and their tenants' responsibilities. This checklist should include routine tasks like air filter replacement, gutter cleaning, and tree pruning, as well as more complex tasks such as HVAC system maintenance and smoke alarm testing.
After compiling this information, you can create a comprehensive preventative maintenance plan that outlines a regular maintenance schedule and a checklist of preventative maintenance tasks. To ensure that nothing falls through the cracks, it's essential to keep track of these tasks and their completion by maintaining accurate and up-to-date records of all maintenance.
Additionally, scheduling regular check-ins and inspections, both inside and outside the rental property, can help identify potential issues and prevent them from escalating. It's important to agree upon these inspections in the lease agreement to avoid legal issues. It is also best practice to make sure that your tenant agrees with the proposed inspection schedule, as that will work to improve the landlord-tenant relationship.
After completing the preparatory stages, it's time to put your hard work into practice and execute the preventative maintenance plan. To ensure that the plan is executed seamlessly, there are several crucial steps you can take.
Communication plays a vital role in implementing a preventative maintenance system. Therefore, all parties involved, including tenants, contractors, and other stakeholders, should be informed of the plan and the maintenance schedule. Inform tenants about any necessary maintenance work that needs to be done in their rental units and provide contractors with all the information required to carry out their tasks effectively.
Enforcing the maintenance schedule is an essential aspect of the preventative maintenance system. You should schedule regular maintenance tasks, such as air conditioning system cleaning, hot water heater maintenance, and smoke alarm testing, on a quarterly basis. Additionally, yearly inspections, such as routine, property, and move-in inspections, should be scheduled.
Keeping Accurate Records
Maintaining accurate records of all maintenance tasks and their associated costs is critical for the success of your preventative maintenance system. This information will assist you in identifying any maintenance issues and keeping track of your maintenance budget.
Monitoring The Plan
Continuous monitoring and updating of the plan as necessary are vital to the success of your preventative maintenance system. Regularly inspect your rental property's interior and exterior to identify and address any maintenance issues. Take preventative measures, such as cleaning air filters, gutters, and HVAC systems, to avoid costly repairs.
Risks Of Not Conducting Preventative Rental Property Maintenance
It's easy to overlook preventative maintenance tasks when there are more pressing concerns such as tenant complaints or emergency repairs. However, neglecting preventative maintenance can lead to a host of problems that could be avoided with a little foresight and planning.
Safety hazards for tenants
One of the most significant risks of not completing preventative maintenance is the potential for safety hazards to arise on your property. For instance, failing to check and repair electrical wiring could lead to fires, while neglecting to inspect the plumbing could cause leaks that lead to water damage or mold growth. These hazards can cause injury to tenants and guests, resulting in costly lawsuits or insurance claims.
Increased repair costs
Preventative maintenance can save you a lot of money in the long run. By identifying and fixing issues early, you can avoid costly emergency repairs. Regular maintenance tasks such as replacing air filters or cleaning gutters can prevent larger problems from developing, such as HVAC breakdowns or water damage. Neglecting these tasks can lead to significant repair costs that could have been avoided.
Decreased property value
Rental properties that are not well-maintained can quickly lose their value. For instance, failing to maintain the landscaping can make the property appear unkept while failing to fix leaks or structural damage can cause long-term water damage to the property. Neglecting preventative maintenance can make it more challenging to attract tenants, reducing the property's overall value.
As a property manager, you have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe living environment for your tenants, called the implied warranty of habitability. If you neglect preventative maintenance and a tenant is injured or becomes ill due to unsafe living conditions, you will most likely face legal liabilities. Not only could you be responsible for covering the costs of the tenant's medical bills, but you could also face legal action, which could be costly and damaging to your reputation.
In conclusion, implementing a preventative maintenance system for your rental property can save you thousands of dollars in repairs when done correctly. If you're ready to take your rental property to the next level, we encourage you to start implementing the preventative maintenance system today.
About the author: DoorLoop is a property management software designed to simplify and streamline the daily operations of property managers, landlords, and real estate investors. David Bitton is the company's CMO and a best-selling author. After co-founding a legal CRM software that was acquired, David brought his knowledge of real estate and technology to DoorLoop.