As a property manager or landlord, it's your job to keep your units safe and well-maintained. As a result, you can expect to spend a fair amount on maintenance every month. If you manage multiple properties or a building with many units, these upkeep costs can stack up quickly.
Unfortunately, you can't plan for every problem a unit or property may develop. Extreme weather events, pest infestations, plumbing leaks and more can all wreak havoc suddenly. However, you can keep ongoing maintenance costs to a minimum by conducting preventative maintenance. This involves checking your properties for damage and acting before potential issues turn into big problems.
To keep your tenants happy and prevent expensive surprises, make sure to complete these five preventative maintenance tasks on a regular basis.
1. Check for Pests
Even if your tenants haven't reported bed bugs or ants, it's a good idea to inspect each unit thoroughly for signs of pests on a monthly or quarterly basis. Bugs, rodents, birds and other pests can all seriously damage a property if left unchecked for too long.
Search for signs like droppings, nests and bad odors and call an exterminator at the first sign of trouble. It's a lot less expensive to take care of a pest problem early, and pests don't go away on their own.
2. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are essential to your tenants' safety and well-being. Follow the instructions associated with the alarms and schedule a time to test them and change the batteries. To further prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, take the time to examine and properly maintain any fuel-burning appliances, including fireplaces, boilers, furnaces and cooking ranges.
3. Repaint the Interior and Exterior
A fresh coat of paint on the inside or outside of a property can impress prospective tenants and help protect the walls. Repainting every few years can pay off, especially if you show units regularly. To keep costs down, make sure you check the moisture content of the walls using a professional reader before getting started. Moisture levels above 15% can cause the paint to peel.
4. Find and Repair Leaks
A leaking faucet is a common occurrence in homes and apartments alike, and leaks in roofs or windows can occur as well. Checking for leaks regularly and repairing them early can keep your maintenance costs down by preventing the need for more extensive repairs down the line.
Examine the area around sinks, bathtubs, showers, water heaters and toilets. After a rainstorm or snowmelt, check ceilings and walls and around windows for soft spots and other signs of water. At the same time, check for visible signs of mold. To reduce mold growth, indoor humidity should be monitored. Then, seal any cracks in the unit's tile or gout to prevent further water damage.
5. Change the Air Filters
Changing the air filter in your central air or heating system twice a year can prevent the air ducts from becoming clogged. In turn, this helps keep air conditioning and heating in top working order and reduces the need for professional duct cleaning. It also helps keep utility bills down.
Get Ahead on Maintenance Tasks
By keeping problems under control and reducing the need for costly repairs, preventative maintenance helps keep your tenants and your budget happy. You can take the same proactive approach to all maintenance tasks. When a tenant approaches you with a concern, address it as quickly as possible. The sooner you fix an issue with your property, the more money you'll save over the long term.
Holly Welles is a freelance real estate writer & blogger covering property management, investment and market trends. She's the editor of The Estate Update, a residential real estate blog for renters and homeowners alike.