Whether you like it or not, your rental property has a lifespan. However, it is up to you to determine how long it will serve as a viable asset. As much as you would like to think the appliances are indestructible, they are not. Even in spite of your best work ethic, things will break down over time. How quickly you take care of these items will directly determine how good of a landlord you are, and how long your property continues to bring in money. If you wait days to get someone out there, your tenants will not be happy. Unhappy tenants will not call you the next time issues pop up or wait to send their rent payment. If you want to keep your rental property running smoothly, you need to act quickly when problems arise. Here is a list of the most common rental property repairs almost every landlord will deal with:
1. Plumbing: It is important to have an open line of communication with your tenants. If they are scared to call you, it could end up costing you hundreds of dollars. One of the most common repair areas in a rental property is with the plumbing. A seemingly innocent drip in the kitchen or bathroom sink can dramatically change your next water bill. The quicker these issues are dealt with, the easier they are to fix. Remember, you can fix most of these plumbing issues by yourself, but not all of them. You can easily turn a simple project into a nightmare if you don’t know what you are doing. There is nothing wrong with trying to save money, but you should know your limitations. Plumbing issues can happen to any property and any tenant. If you ignore them, it will cost you more in the long run.
2. Clogged Toilets: Before a tenant moves in, you need to identify which items are their responsibility. If they clog the toilet, they need to fix it. However, not all clogged toilets are the tenant’s fault. There are times where a clog could be a sign of a bigger problem. A clogged toilet could signal problems with the main plumbing line. This could be fixed by getting it drained or there could be bigger issues. There could be a larger obstruction in the line or something underground blocking it. If your tenant has the clog repaired and the problem comes back, there could be a bigger issue.
3. Appliances: Your rental’s appliances will only last so long. It is a safe bet that your tenants will not treat them the same way you would. Excessive lint in the dryer, food in the dishwasher and burnt out freezers are all issues that need to be addressed. Some of these are relatively easy fixes, and others might need a little more time, patience and money. In almost every lease, you can expect at least one item to be repaired or replaced – unless they are brand new. Repairing appliances is a necessary part of owning a rental property. If you advertise a washer or dryer in the unit and you do not replace it, you are not fulfilling your end of the lease. Any appliances on the lease need to be in working order.
4. Rodents: No house is immune to some unwanted visitors. Even if you maintain your house perfectly, there is always a threat of mice, rats and gophers. If it is a one-time issue, you can fix it with a few traps. If the problem persists, you need to find the cause. A squirrel in the attic or a mouse in your kitchen can do more damage than you think. They can eat away at wires and pipes, causing plenty of unseen damage. Instead of waiting for the problem to come back, call an exterminator and get it fixed before it happens again. Your tenants will appreciate the time you put in to help them.
5. Furnace/Oil Tank: The minute your furnace stops working, winter or not, is a problem. It doesn’t matter if you live in San Diego or Fargo, people get cold no matter where they are. This isn’t just a nuisance for a tenant, it can be a major issue for your budget. You should plan on having your furnace serviced every year. Some landlords will view this as a waste of money, but it will extend the life of the furnace by years. It is important to have someone you can call in a pinch if there are issues during the lease. No tenant should have to wait days for you to find someone to fix the furnace. The same is the case if you have an oil tank. Cleaning the lines every year will make the heat run more efficiently. If the lines are dirty, both hot water and heat will be impacted. Seasonal maintenance goes a long way with heating.
If you own a rental property, you should expect issues to pop up from time to time. Having a reserve fund to deal with these can help you act quickly when they happen. Untreated items will end up costing you much more down the road. Not only will you have to pay more, you run the risk of losing your tenant. You should expect the unexpected as a landlord.