A Smart Guide for Annual Maintenance on your Rental Property

By
Real Estate Agent with Daily Real Estate Update

 

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Repairing problems is obviously something any halfway decent landlord or property manager knows is one of the main factors in keeping tenants happy. Just 1 day with a broken air conditioner in Southern California and your tenant will definitely be reminding you. However, many individual owners and mediocre property managers tend to overlook maintenance issues that are preventative.  Cutting corners on maintenance will only bring headaches and surprise expenses down the road.  Use this checklist for annual maintenance; if you’re using a property manager, be sure these tasks are part of your agreement.

Schedule an Annual Inspection
Include provisions in your lease to perform an annual or semi-annual inspection of the property. If you can schedule this with the tenant, you can point out issues that they may be responsible for ahead of time, as well as keep an eye on the general condition of your property. However the main intent is to perform these maintenance tasks and inspect for potential issues.

Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
Be certain those safety devices are put in according to the manufacturer’s directions and test them at the minimum of one timeper year. Working carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms are neededwithin all rental homes. Smoke alarms have to be installed near bedrooms and on every level of a multi-story house.


Inspect Windows
Within many states, adequate security steps are part of the landlord’s maintenance job.In other words, the windows and doors have to lock. Open and close all windows and check locks, and verify that the tenants have not changed the locks. Additionally, ensure that all windows shut completely, and every home security system is in good working order.
You’ll also want to inspect for warping or rusting on the front door.  Steps to maintain the front door are simple, and won’t need to be done every year, but catch small issues early if you can.  Front doors are expensive to repair or replace, so refinishing, painting, and checking hinges and the frame are recommended.

Heating & Cooling Service
Annual maintenance to the property’s HVAC system is the best method of avoiding emergency phone calls from tenants who do not have heat in the winter or AC on the warmest days of summer. Heating is needed almost everywhere for the property to be legally rentable. Check to see if your tenant has been changing the filters and discuss it with them if they have not. Schedule at least an annual HVAC service, which is a common and affordable visit with most providers. Though most providers will try to sell you a maintenance contract for twice a year, we’ve found that one visit per year is adequate. At this time, the technician checks the heating and AC systems, changes the filters, as well asensures that everything is properly working. Beware it is common practice for HVAC techs to use this opportunity to upsell you more repairs and upgrades; be sure you trust your technician and do your homework before spending anything unnecessarily.

Keep Water Heater Running
Annually hire an expert to drain the water heater to extract build-up of sediment.  All one-off hot water heater maintenance – such as relighting a pilot light when it goes out – also is your job. Replacing a system is expensive;therefore, keeping it in great shape will assist in avoiding unexpected repair expenses. Italso will keep you on the right part of the law, as landlords have the jobof supplying every tenant with running water.

Check for Water Damage and Leaks
If there’s one preventable nightmare you want to catch, it’s a leak. During the walk-through, look for soft or stained spots on the walls, ceilings, and roof.Search for indications of water damage or moisture around toilets, windows, and showers. Catching those problems is important to preventing harmful mold and costly structural damage.

While you are at it, check under boilers, sinks, and hot water heaters for leaking pipes. Landlords frequently pay sewer and water bills;therefore, spotting a leak early onwill save you money down the road.

Clean Gutters
In order to prevent leaks and keep the property structurally sound, you should inspect the gutters at the rental house two timesper year – one time in late spring and once again in the fall. When a house requires gutter cleaning, painting, tree trimming, and other major jobs, the landlord generally is responsible.

Leaves and additional debris may trap water and clog gutters, leading to substantial water damage through the siding, roof, windows and the foundation. If you have pines or additional messy trees close to the home, give consideration to cleaning the gutters every 3 months.

Clear Debris and Prune Trees
Depending upon the lease agreement, the tenant might be responsible for landscaping such as raking leaves and mowing the lawn. But, bigger projects such as tree maintenance and removal typically are your job. In placesthat have winter climates, you might want to prune the trees before freezing temperatures and flurries hit. Heavy ice and snow may weigh on unstable branches, which increases the likelihood of fallen limbs that are causing property damage.

Some outside home maintenance jobs are gray areas whichought tobe addressed in the lease. For instance, if a rental is a single-family house that has a pool or a yard, the landlord may stipulate within the lease that a tenant maintains either or both of those


Address Problems with Rodents or Insects
Pest control may be the responsibility of the landlord or the tenant. We recommend the property owner keep responsibility for this, as it is something that you do NOT want to let get out of hand. Apartments and condos usually handle this building-wide. When the tenant lets you know about a pest situation, find an exterminator ASAP to avoid an infestation. No matter how clean a property is, critters and insects may find their way inside. This may become a disaster quickly in apartment buildings.


Tip: If you have dumpsters or garbage bins outside the rental property, ensure that lids remain closed and all garbagegets bagged. Constructing a dumpster enclosure is your best betin keepinggarbage out of sight. Rodents and pests are attracted to food and additional trash left open.

Maintain All Common Areas
Landlords have the job of keeping all common areas of a building clean and safe. To ensure the safety of tenants, lighting fixtures have to be in working condition and hand railings, stairways and banisters have to be free of hazards. Shared stairways and hallways should be free of garbage and other debris.

If a certain resident is responsible for continuous messes within common areas, the landlord may send a notice to stop the behavior.

Offer Trash Receptacles
In order to keep the rental sanitary and neat, landlords have the job of providing suitable recycling or garbage bins. Clean these out annually or semi-annually. The quantity and size of bins you will need depend on the quantity of tenants occupying the property. For large apartment complexes and multi-family housing, front load dumpster service is the most efficientmethod of managinggarbage.

Property Management Companies and Maintenance
If you use a property management company, maintenance of the rental property may or may not be included as part of their services. If it is, be sure you know up front an exact maintenance schedule, and verify the work was performed. This verification usually comes in the form of monthly, semi-annual, or annual reporting provided to you.  Keep in mind there could be some tasks they do not perform, such as door maintenance.  

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