Professionals in the real estate industry understand that the way they handle maintenance issues has a direct impact on leasing and turnover. The quality of property maintenance and the speed of response to tenant requests are key factors in lease renewals. Neglecting or delaying maintenance requests can lead to tenant frustration, causing them to look for a new place to live.
Because one of the significant allocation of resources in building management is property upkeep and maintenance, it’s vital to get it right. It’s a major challenge to optimize property maintenance strategies in order to strike a balance between satisfying tenants, ensuring property value, and reducing costs.
Savvy property management companies view maintenance as a profit centre rather than a cost center. Why? Because continuously improving maintenance performance can positively influence organizational performance, leading to cost reduction and lower business risks.
This guide covers:
• Preventative Maintenance
• Budgeting for Maintenance
• Finding Reliable Contractors
• Tenant Communication
• Emergency Maintenance
• Documenting Maintenance
• Sustainable and Green Maintenance Practices
Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to equipment and property upkeep, involving scheduled inspections, servicing, and repairs to avert breakdowns and extend the life of assets. This strategy aims to minimize downtime and reduce repair costs, as well as improve the overall reliability of equipment and efficiency of the maintenance function. Routine maintenance also adds value to your tenants' experience, as they can see that the property is well-maintained.
Key areas of focus for preventative maintenance include:
• HVAC systems
• Electrical systems
• Plumbing and water
• Roof repairs/inspections
• Landscaping and outdoor facilities
• Pest control
• Safety and security systems
Budgeting for Maintenance
Property management maintenance is a crucial aspect of ensuring the long-term financial health of a property. When budgeting for property management maintenance, property professionals must allocate funds for routine upkeep as well as unexpected repairs. Failing to plan for maintenance expenses can lead to financial strain and decreased property value over time.
Creating a maintenance budget for property management involves a strategic and systematic approach.
• First, property managers should conduct a thorough inspection and assessment of the property to identify potential maintenance needs. This includes evaluating the condition of the building's structural elements, mechanical systems, and common areas.
• Once the maintenance requirements are identified, it's essential to estimate the associated costs, which may include routine tasks such as landscaping, cleaning, and painting, as well as more significant expenditures for items like roofing or HVAC system replacements.
• The budget should also account for emergencies and unexpected repairs by setting aside a reserve fund. By creating a well-structured maintenance budget, property managers can ensure that funds are available to address upkeep needs promptly, which can ultimately protect the property's value and the satisfaction of tenants or residents.
Finding Reliable Contractors
Property managers are no strangers to receiving emergency repair calls 24/7. The unpredictable nature of maintenance underscores the importance of establishing strong relationships with reliable vendors. Building a vendor list that includes trustworthy professionals is essential.
Effective vendor management involves fostering a collaborative partnership with your suppliers and service providers, rather than solely focusing on negotiating the lowest price.
It's advisable to have three or four vendors available for each category (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc.) to ensure immediate response to emergencies. Soliciting feedback from vendors and maintaining open communication can help identify and address potential issues before they escalate.
Tips for Better Vendor Relationships
• Have Clear Rules of Engagement: Set expectations and performance guidelines at the very beginning of the relationship. And, then revisit and report on them periodically. When both parties know exactly what is expected and by when, the odds of a successful project and partnership instantly increase.
• Open Communication is Key: Regular contact with vendors isn’t always the same thing as good communication. In addition to the back-and-forth concerning various jobs, encourage periodic check-ins with key vendors, a few times a year. Get their feedback on how things – the relationship, processes, the property, etc – might be changed or improved.
Learn about our vendor management solution here.
Keeping tenants informed about property maintenance is essential for maintaining a positive landlord-tenant relationship.
• Planned Maintenance: Regular and transparent communication helps manage expectations and minimizes disruptions. Landlords should provide tenants with advance notice of planned maintenance, outlining the scope of the work, expected start and completion dates, and any potential inconveniences. This allows tenants to make necessary arrangements, and it demonstrates a commitment to their comfort and well-being. Open lines of communication also encourage tenants to report issues promptly, fostering a cooperative environment that benefits both parties.
• Maintenance Requests: Handling maintenance requests in a timely and efficient manner is paramount to tenant satisfaction. Landlords or property managers should establish clear procedures for submitting and tracking maintenance requests, making it easy for tenants to report issues. Respecting their privacy and property during repairs, as well as making sure that maintenance personnel are professional and courteous, can go a long way in maintaining a positive tenant-landlord relationship. Providing a feedback mechanism for tenants to express their thoughts or concerns about maintenance services can help improve the overall experience and foster a sense of community within the property
What constitutes an emergency? It comes down to any building issue that has the potential to cause injury to a tenant or visitor, seriously damage the property or is a threat to health and safety. Typical examples of emergency maintenance include frozen or leaking pipes, fire, gas leaks, flooding and sewer backups, no heat in the winter, and faulty electrical work, among others.
These unforeseen expenses and emergency repairs can arise when least expected. Maintaining a reserve or contingency fund ensures you're prepared to address these situations. Any unused funds can be rolled over to the next year's budget or invested in property improvements that enhance tenant and owner satisfaction.
Don’t forget, as the frontline of emergency preparedness, property managers need to have a strong communications plan and a strategy to ensure that tenants are safe and any damage to the building is kept to a minimum.
If your building does go through a crisis, be sure to conduct a thorough post-event review. Look at what happened and what you can learn from it to be more prepared for future emergencies.
Maintenance records are a critical component to protecting your assets. By keeping digital records of building maintenance and repair requests, it allows property managers to analyze trends across their portfolios. This data can help identify properties with higher maintenance needs, facilitating predictive maintenance planning and capital investment allocation.
Paper-based documents are a waste of time as inevitably the information needs to be re-keyed into your system, which not only is redundant but can result in errors. Sadly, paper-based work orders and repair requests can get lost or misplaced, resulting in delays. By moving to a digital web-based solution for submitting maintenance requests, and capturing inspection information, property managers can save hundreds of minutes per day.
By harnessing technology, like maintenance software, you not only have easy access to documentation, but you also have clear visibility into requests 24/7.
Sustainable and Green Maintenance Practices
Property managers and landlords seek ways to reduce costs while maintaining tenant satisfaction. Implementing green practices to improve energy efficiency strikes a balance between cost savings and appealing to renters. Here are some cost-effective solutions:
• Replace outdated appliances with modern, energy-efficient models to save on energy and water costs.
• Update bathrooms with water-saving fixtures to reduce utility expenses.
• Install programmable thermostats and ceiling fans to cut energy costs.
• Use energy-efficient blinds or window treatments to reduce heating and cooling expenses.
Property managers and landlords are always looking for ways to reduce expenses but also maintain tenant satisfaction. Greening your property to make it more energy efficient is the way to achieve that perfect balance of cost savings and renter appeal. In addition to the obvious environmental and cost-saving benefits, making a few changes can also really increase the appeal of your property.
Proactive maintenance practices are the best way to protect your property portfolio and also ensure tenant satisfaction. Forward-thinking property management firms and owners will have a budget set aside for routine and emergency repairs, as well as a communications plan for any unforeseen disasters. By curating a team of experienced vendors you can ensure quality repairs. Technology can (and will) go a long way in documenting and predicting maintenance.
How Property Vista Helps
From automated maintenance request confirmation emails to being able to instantly schedule and assign work orders, the Property Vista solution is designed to eliminate paperwork, automate processes and create a digital record of all activities. Your property staff has a centralized location to track and monitor all maintenance activity and manage resident communications. To learn more about how you can improve your maintenance management, see pricing and get a demo.