September 10, 2019
Here’s What You Don’t Know About Property Maintenance
First-time real estate investors and landlords often don’t give too much thought to property maintenance. The emphasis is on marketing the property and getting it rented. However, when it comes to keeping tenants happy and the value of your investment on the rise, maintenance plays a huge role. Here’s what a lot of newcomers often don’t know.
Don’t Let Tenants Do Repairs
Along with listing the usual expected responsibilities about keeping the premises clean and save, also ensure there is a clause in your lease that makes it clear that no alterations or repairs to the property will be done without the landlord’s permission. While some tenants may be able to do a decent job of painting or putting in a new vanity, you don’t want tenants devaluing your investment with shoddy workmanship or poor design choices.
You Need the Right People
Sometimes you can do fixes yourself, if you are handy, but sometimes you really shouldn’t. A “bit” of electrical knowledge is not equal to a journeyman electrician. Have you ever heard the expression “cheap is expensive”? Trying to fix issues on your own, or hiring a friend or relative who is handy can cause bigger problems down the road. When you need a plumber, call a plumber. You’ll save money in the long run.
Performing Regular Inspections is Critical
Move-in/move-out and regular yearly inspections help keep your property up to code with building regulations. These inspections assure that smoke/carbon detectors are working, and ventilation systems, heating, taps and appliances are all in good working order. Staying on top of these inspections not only keeps you on the right side of the law and reduces repairs (little problems don’t grow to be big problems), it ensures your investment continues to grow in value.
You Cannot Ignore Needed Repairs
If you fail to make the needed repairs or maintenance after receiving a request from a tenant, there could be any number of consequences. If the issue contravenes local building or health codes, your tenant may contact local authorities, which could result in fines for you. As well, although laws vary from state to stay, your renter could choose to withhold rent until the repair has been completed. Some states require the tenant to put the rent in escrow account set up by a housing agency or court that will be released to you only when the repairs have been done. Even if you live in a state that does not allow the withholding of rent or escrow arrangements, if your renter opts to stop paying because you aren’t making repairs, it leads you down the path of eviction, which takes time and effort and costs money.
You Must Give Your Tenant Notice of Entry
Even if a tenant has requested a repair, you cannot simply let yourself and your contractor in whenever it’s convenient for you. There are only two times you can enter without notice. The first is in the case of emergency repairs, and the second (and this varies depending on your jurisdiction) is if your renter has been away for an extended period of time and you need to perform an inspection or make necessary repairs. Most states require 24 or 48 hours’ notice before the landlord can enter the premises. If you don’t, you may be accused of harassment or incur fines.
Property Maintenance Software Saves Time and Money
Many first-time landlords rely on pen, paper and spreadsheets. However, this means that needed repairs can be overlooked. Property maintenance software gives you a digital record of all communication between you, your tenant and your maintenance person. Because it’s a centralized repository, it keeps you organized and allows you to more easily track employee hours and stay on budget. It also means that tenants can use the maintenance request tool links into your tenants’ portal, allowing them to simply submit requests and make certain work is brought to your attention as quickly as it’s needed. It makes it easy to generate work and purchase orders within the property maintenance software, creating a smooth workflow. This vastly frees up hours of your time.
If you’re interested in learning more about Property Vista’s property maintenance software, check out our pricing and arrange a demo here.