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Maintenance


The work required to keep something in proper condition or upkeep- is just part of the territory when you own rental property. Although maintenance isn't anyone's favorite job, you can enhance your investment by making needed repairs promptly and maintaining the entire property in the best possible physical condition.

Although owning and operating rental property clearly requires ongoing physical maintenance, many rental owners are not prepared for the work involved. If you have a background and experience in maintenance and repairs, you may welcome the opportunity to do some of the work yourself. Otherwise we suggest letting the professional at your property management company handle the work for you.

Besides the benefits in marketing and keeping your property rented, you are required by law to properly maintain and repair your rental properties. In plain English, it means that, you must keep the rental property in a safe and habitable condition.

Recognizing the Importance of a Maintenance plan.
One of the most common reasons that dissatisfied tenants leave a rental property is the failure to respond to the tenants' basic requests for maintenance. But you can use this your advantage when you show you well-maintained rental unit by informing your prospective tenants about your system for promptly addressing maintenance issues.

If your management company has a solid maintenance plan in place, you will consistently get more night per year and fewer refunds.

Additionally, when you're working with a maintenance plan, you can control your expenses and keep them to a minimum. You greatly reduce the need for emergency or extraordinary repairs (which always cost more money). And you have the names of contractors and suppliers on hand so that you can have the proper repair done the first time (instead of having to fix a botched repair).

Because Repeat, satisfied tenants are the key to financial success in a managing rental properties, The need for an established and responsive maintenance system that properly maintains the premises in order to avoid operating losses.

A poorly maintained property will lead to higher tenant dissapointment and tenants of progressively lower caliber, who are willing to accept the poor condition of the property.

A tenant can also use the poor condition of the withhold rent , vacate in the middle of a vacation or dispute credit card charges.

Take a proactive approach to maintenance. At least once a year, conduct an annual rental unit inspection walkthrough. You should do this over the course of a couple days while spending a weekend or few weekdays in your property. This standard policy will protect you from claims of poor maintenance, allow for repairs when problems are small and keep your good tenants satisfied.

While your property manager and their maintenance team may do a great job. Sometimes it is hard to find the small bothersome problems with out actually staying in the unit and using the amenities.

For example: We had a maid who does a very good job. Her cleaning is impeccable along with her ability to observe and report maintenance issues. One day we had a renter come in and explain that their coffee maker was not working and needed an immediate replacement.

Why didn't the maid find the problem?

Simple…

She unplugged it, cleaned it, and put it away in it's proper place. Maids don't usually have the time to make a test pot of coffee. Sometimes it takes the owner spending the night using the amenities to find all the items that need corrective action. A good maintenance plan includes regularly scheduled exterior property inspections. A customized property inspection checklist for each rental property is a good management tool. The frequency of the inspections will vary, but they should be performed at least quarterly.

Being prepared for the Different Types of Maintenance Issues.
Maintenance isn't just a matter of fixing a leaky faucet here and there, rental properties require several different types of maintenance and you're sure to run into each of them at one time or another. Although each type in a unique way.

My first employer in property management taught me the saying, “ To own is to Maintain” . It's something worth keeping in mind when you find yourself having to do maintenance work on your rental property.

Emergency Maintenance.
Your Vacation Property Manager should be prepared for emergency maintenance request at all hours of the day.

When your property manager gets a maintenance call from a tenant, first they need to determine whether the urgent maintenance request really is an emergency. An emergency repair is work that must be done immediately in or to prevent further property damage or minimize the change of endangering people or legitimately ruining the tenants vacation experience.

The most common maintenance emergencies typically involve plumbing or electrical problems.

a maintenance emergency, we immediately advise the tenant of what steps to take to limit any further damage. For example, if a pipe is leaking, we tell the tenant to shut off the water at the angle stop under the sink or at the water meter, this can prevent further water damage. Instruct tenants not to use appliances or electrical systems that are malfunctioning until they have been inspected or repaired.

If a fire, flood or gas leak, emergency ever occurs at your vacatuib rental property or if a natural disaster hits the area, having a company that is able to react quickly to shutting off the utilities may be imperative.

Owners should prepare charts and simple diagrams for each rental property indicating where to find all utility shutoff locations and the tools necessary to operate them- as well as instructions letting tenants know which situations warrant shutting them off.

Preventive Maintenance
A sound preventive maintenance program can increase your cash flow and reduce the number of maintenance emergencies at your property. Preventive maintenance is the regularly scheduled inspection and maintenance performed to extend the operating life of a building system of a property. This often includes annual maintenance surveys or inspection of the interior of the rental units.

One great example of preventive maintenance is regularly lubricating the motors and replacing the filters in heating and air conditioning systems. When performed annually on a service contract, this preventive maintenance is very inexpensive and the lubricant motors and clean filters lessen the strain on the equipment so they will last longer and operate with greater energy efficiency.

Preventive maintenance can often address problems when conditions are still minor, thus saving significantly over future emergency repairs or replacement.

The cost of maintenance labor is also reduced because maintenance personnel can work more efficiently by having all the necessary tools, parts and supplies on hand. According to a study by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), 80 percent of the cost of most maintenance repairs covers labor and only 20 percent covers the actual parts and supplies.

Be sure to give your Vacation Rental Management Company written notice before beginning maintenance work that will effect the peace and privacy of any of your guests. A temporary shutoff of utilities (particularly water) will often be necessary in emergencies or while performing preventive maintenance and repairs at your rental property. Advising your tenants in advance can minimize the inconvenience for your tenants.

Corrective Maintenance
Although planning and performing preventive maintenance work is usually cheaper that fixing or replacing items, the reality is that if something breaks it must be fixed or replaced in a timely manner .

The most common maintenance request from tenants are for corrective maintenance. If your Agent responds professionally and in a timely manner, He will earn you a reputation as a good rental property owner.

Even with the best preventive maintenance programs, corrective maintenance is a normal part of any maintenance program. Anything in a rental unit can and eventually will break or need attention in a normal usage, including toilets and sinks that become clogged, doors that stick and appliances that malfunction. The key to tenant satisfaction is often dependent upon whether you have a system for efficiently accepting and responding to tenant maintenance requests.

Although the telephone, a pager or even an answering service or machine are still the best ways to communicate an urgent maintenance request, e-mail is becoming more popular with both owners and Agents for many non-emergency maintenance situations. E-mail works well for owners, who often prefer not being interrupted by a phone call at a potentially inconvenient time and it works well for tenants, who appreciate being able to send the e-mail at any time of the day or night instead of having to wait until normal business hours to get a hold of you. Upon receipt of the e-mail you can reply with a confirmation or ask for more details. 

Custodial Maintenance
Custodial maintenance is the regular day to day upkeep of the rental property and the most frequently occurring type of maintenance. The curb appeal and physical appearance of your property and grounds depend on regular patrolling and cleaning. In single family rentals, the tenant typically handles this duty and specific responsibilities should be included in your lease or rental agreement. In larger rental properties an onsite manager should be responsible for daily inspection and cleaning of the property.

Keep a list of routine maintenance items, including washing windows, hosing down parking areas, driveways and walkways and doing other tasks that will keep the interior and exterior of the rental property clean and presentable, don't forget to keep the trash bin areas and free of litter as well.

The number one complaint of tenants and the bane of all rental owners, is deferred maintenance. Not really a type of maintenance at all, deferred maintenance is the result of obvious repairs that are not properly addressed in a timely manner. Common examples are peeling paint, broken screen doors, overgrown landscaping and minor roof leaks in the garage. Although every property has some deferred maintenance, your goal as an owner is to keep it a minimum.

Cosmetic Maintenance
Properties with great curb appeal are easier to manage and generate higher returns on your investment. So if you're willing to spend money to improve and upgrade the appearance of the exterior and the individual rental units, you'll reap the rewards. Examples of cosmetic maintenance or upgrades include replacing old countertops, installing new light fixtures, repainting, installing new window covering and decorating with wallpapers.

One of the most common complaints tenants make is that their Vacation Rental is not what they expected. That the property is not up to date in it's furnishings, the exterior is not being painted regularly, and the place looks overall unkept. There is not faster way for a property management company to become frustrated and avoid renting your property than to have excessive complaints that you as the owner will not correct. Remember they are the ones on the front lines getting the complaints, taking the abuse if your property is not allowed to be properly maintained.

Handling Rental Property Maintenance
Even though your Property Management Company may be assertive in properly maintaining your rental property through regular property inspection and diligent interior maintenance, there will always be an ongoing need to make repairs.