While many seek the wealth building opportunities that come with being a landlord, the title comes with a lot of hard work. Regardless of the property you own, there will always be maintenance to do. Often times, it is the little things that will separate a successful rental property from an average one. This means keeping an eye on your property and giving it the same care and attention that you would your own residence. If you have this mindset with every property you own, you will handle issues as they come. Staying on top of maintenance is essential in running a successful rental property.
As much as you would like to talk to your tenants at the beginning and end of every lease, it doesn’t always work out like you plan. You don’t need to be overbearing with your tenants and the property, but you do need to stay involved. This means having a clear line of communication with your tenants and imploring them to tell you when something may be wrong. The quicker you can tackle any problem, the less likely it will turn into something much bigger. If your tenants are afraid that you will point the finger at them for every little issue, they won’t tell you when things come up. A simple fix will end up costing you thousands of dollars down the road.
After you establish a clear line of communication with all of your tenants, you need to be willing to act when they call. Small problems like a running toilet or pinging in the furnace are often signs of a bigger issue. Instead of waiting until the next time you are in the area, you should look at them right away. The worst case is that you spend a minimal amount to rectify a small problem and the best case is that you catch something that would have led to bigger issues. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. This sounds obvious enough but many landlords don’t budget for these everyday expenses and when they come up won’t spend the money to fix them. If you don’t get small problems fixed, they won’t go away on their own.
The best way to prevent small problems from becoming bigger ones is by getting out in front of them. This often means doing work before you have to. You should plan on making seasonal checkups to the furnace, water heater, central air, fireplace and even the roof. A hundred dollar check up to the oil tank or the furnace in November may save you thousands of dollars if the issue flares up again in February. Even though the chances of something happening from year to year are slim, neglecting them will lead to trouble down the road. Not only will this increase the useful life of the items, it will also help you attract better tenants. If the appliances are updated, your tenants will feel comfortable in the property and want to stay for as long as possible.
The biggest reason that landlords don’t get things done with their property is because of the costs associated. You need to set up a reserve fund so you don’t have to scramble around if something happens. It is also important to overestimate every repair and consider the worst case scenario. If this is a property that you intend to keep for the foreseeable future, paying for new or updated items shouldn’t be viewed as an expense. This should be looked at as something that is going to keep the rents coming in for years. If you go the cheap route or wait to have things done right, you open yourself up for paying three times what you will pay now in the future. Even if you don’t think you need it, put some reserves away every month. Sooner or later something will happen and you will be glad that money is there.
In a perfect world, you will have someone you can call for every specific issue that occurs in your property. If not, you will have to find someone that you have never previously worked with. Instead of hiring the first person you talk to, take your time and find the right person for the job. If you have to pay to do the work over again or to correct an issue, you are only wasting money. Every time you network, you should always be on the lookout for someone that can do a job when you need them. Reach out to new contacts to see what they can do, where they will go and what their fees are. The more people you have ready when you need them, the easier your life will be.
Most small issues with a property can be solved by acting on them as soon as they happen. You can assign blame to the problem at a later date, but for now you need to get it fixed so you don’t make things worse. Your rental property will not fix itself. Problems will happen with every property. It is how you react to them that makes all the difference.