To get the most out of your rental unit, it’s important to stay on top of preventative maintenance. Keeping your rental units in good condition leads to increased appreciation of your property, increased Tenant satisfaction, and reduced emergency calls and expenses for Landlords. It also ensures that your property is safe, helps you attract and retain quality Tenants, improves your returns, and leads to a better experience for Landlords.
While it’s clear that being proactive about maintenance is important, this is oftentimes easier said than done. Of course, it’s essential to respond to Tenants’ calls in a timely manner and to quickly address necessary repairs. However, the best Landlords are proactive about property maintenance, which leads to fewer repairs and emergency maintenance.
To stay current on preventative maintenance, Landlords need to:
- Be informed about the condition of the property and its major systems and appliances;
- Know best practices for property maintenance; and
- Create a schedule and systems for preventive maintenance.
To help you do this, here’s a look at the major maintenance projects you need to do every year and a checklist with all maintenance tasks that you should complete.
1. Inspect and Repair the Roof
Unaddressed problems with the roof can lead to leaks, water damage, and even structural damage. To avoid this, it’s important to stay on top of roof maintenance. Landlords should regularly remove debris from the roof and gutters and immediately address any signs of leaks.
In addition, at least once a year inspect the roof for damage and assess the roof’s condition. Specifically, look for damaged shingles, evidence of leaks, or sagging areas. Promptly repair any damage that is found.
You also want to be aware of the age of your roof and have an estimate of how soon you’ll need to replace it. Most roofs last around 20-25 years, and replacing the roof is one of the largest expenses Landlords will incur. It’s helpful to have a general sense of when you’re going to need to replace it and to budget accordingly.
2. Service HVAC Units
Regularly servicing your HVAC systems will help them to run more efficiently and extend the lifespan of your units. Plus, it will reduce the risk of emergency calls on either the hottest or coldest days of the year, which neither Tenants nor Landlords enjoy.
Have your heater professionally serviced in the fall and your AC serviced in the Spring. You should also change the air filters every 3 months. Hopefully, you addressed this maintenance in the Lease, but if you didn’t, work with Tenants to come up with a plan for ensuring that these filters are replaced once a quarter.
3. Flush and Inspect the Water Heater
The average water heater lasts for around 10-20 years, depending on the type, quality, and size. Replacing a water heater is a major expense, and a damaged water heater can lead to substantial water damage and stressful emergency maintenance. The good news is that with proper maintenance, you can extend the lifespan of your water heater and reduce the risk of a leak.
You should inspect the unit annually for leaks and sediment build-up and to make sure everything’s functioning safely and properly. You should also drain and flush your tank once a year to remove built-up sediment, which can cause cracks and damage.
4. Complete Maintenance Checklist
While those are the major projects you want to complete, there are a number of smaller ones that should be completed regularly. We’ve created a list here, but you can also download our Preventative Maintenance Checklist to ensure you stay on top of all projects.
Every year you should:
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and replace batteries.
- Inspect the property for evidence of pest issues and address any problems.
- Turn off water to outdoor spigots in the fall and insulate exterior pipes depending on your properties location.
- Remove leaves and debris from gutters and downspouts (ideally in fall and spring).
- Seal cracks and gaps in windows and doors with weather stripping.
- Trim tree branches and remove debris from the yard and roof.
- Check the fireplace for damage and have it professionally cleaned and inspected.
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Every 1-3 Years:
- Power wash porches and siding.
- Power wash and stain decks and fences.
- Recaulk showers and bathtubs to prevent leaks and mold.
- Have the plumbing system inspected.
Prepare for Major Projects
In addition to ongoing maintenance, it’s important to anticipate major repairs so that you can budget accordingly. By keeping track of the age and condition of fixtures and appliances in your rental unit, you can make sure that you’re not surprised by maintenance expenses.
Specifically, you want to know the age, condition, and expected lifespan of your rental unit’s roof, HVAC system, water heater, refrigerator, stove, washer, and dryer. Keeping track of this with an Appliance Inventory Service Log will let you know when you need to be ready for additional maintenance expenses.
Create Systems for Preventative Maintenance
One of the best ways to stay on top of preventative maintenance is through annual property inspections. You’ll be able to check off a number of items on your maintenance list during inspections and identify additional issues that need to be addressed.
Here’s our advice for dealing with ongoing preventative maintenance:
- Use a checklist for annual maintenance and complete it every year;
- Schedule annual property inspections to identify any additional maintenance needed;
- Keep an updated list of fixture and appliance conditions to anticipate major repairs.
Visit ezLandlordForms.com to download these maintenance forms and to get more tips to help you get the most out of your investment properties.
Emily Koelsch, ezLandlordForms Contributing Writer
Emily Koelsch is a freelance writer and blogger, who primarily writes about business, real estate, and technology.