If you didn’t already know this, you probably know it now: owning and maintaining a rental property is a lot of work. That rental income doesn’t come easy. You will need to work on and invest in the property regularly to keep it in great condition and keep your renter satisfied.
However, here’s the good news: by being proactive with both preventative maintenance and quick repairs, you can often prevent major issues and, generally, keep the property in better shape with less work, expense, and headache. It’s a win-win for you and your renter. Here’s where to start.
When It’s Important, Call in a Professional
Too many property owners—especially early in their career—start out with the attitude that the cheapest and easiest way to maintain the property is to do everything themselves. Leaking faucet? You’ll be there with a wrench within the hour. If your tenant calls you about a door that keeps sticking on humid afternoons? You’ve got a hammer that can fix that.
While dealing with small projects like this can be an effective approach, it’s important to recognize when you’re out of your element and out of your depth. Unless you’re a professional contractor by trade, you’ll need to bring in a professional to help with issues related to:
Obviously, any issues with the roof or structure of the home are significantly more complex and carry higher stakes than fixing a sticking bedroom door. Mistakes made in repairs or maintenance can have costly and disastrous consequences.
For example, amateur roofing can result in further damage to the shingles or underlayment—and a roof full of leaks this coming spring. Working on an air conditioner or furnace can make the existing issue even worse while simultaneously voiding the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty. You’ve probably already guessed the consequences of shoddy plumbing workmanship.
So, when your renter calls you about something important, act quickly, and immediately call in a professional to address the issue.
Act Fast in Emergencies
In a serious situation with high stakes for your rental property and your renter, time is the enemy. You need to act fast, avoid procrastination, and—most importantly—have things in place ahead of time so that you can be as responsive as possible.
The moment your tenant calls you about a leaking pipe in your rental is not the time to be vetting out a prospective local plumber in your area and calling their references. Do that ahead of time so that you have 2-3 trusted emergency plumbers you can call when something goes wrong. In fact, build this directory for all the major emergency services listed above. If—more like when—something goes wrong, you’ll be ready.
Be communicative and honest with your renter. Your renter gets that getting an HVAC repair specialist on the hottest day of summer can take time. What they will be less sympathetic to is you trying to either lie about the situation or not answering their calls entirely. This poor communication can really influence how they feel about you and the property—and whether or not they sign that next lease.
Invest in Preventative Maintenance
As a property owner, you should become an advocate for prevention before the cure. In other words, invest in preventative maintenance such as seasonal HVAC tune-ups, sewer camera inspections, roofing checkups, and more. These services will cost you a bit up front, but they are nothing compared to the expense and headache of a major repair. After all, the best emergency is the one you never have to deal with in the first place. That’s the power of professional maintenance.
If you’re on the hunt for even more DIY maintenance ideas, tips, and tricks, be sure to check out this infographic.
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