10 Tips For Maintaining Your Rental Properties

by | BiggerPockets.com

Just about everyone takes care of the maintenance on their personal home; it’s a matter of pride for most of us. We all know that it doesn’t take too long for little problems to become big problems. Over the years, I have found that many landlords just aren’t as diligent when it comes to resolving problems in their rental property.

So What’s the Problem?

Why is it that they don’t get taken care of in a timely manner? I think it’s primarily the lack of having a system to help them stay on track. Landlords certainly know that the failure to diligently monitor the condition of their properties can lead to costly damage over time.

Another downside to not taking care of routine maintenance is that it will always lead to unhappy tenants, and unhappy tenants move out. This leaves you not only with a lot of costly repairs you have to do anyway but delays in getting the home is rented again.

It’s time to stop procrastinating. Here’s a quick checklist you can use for your keeping your properties in tip top shape.

10 Quick Tips For Managing Routine Property Inspections and Repairs

1. Keep all wood on the exterior of the home painted. Failure to keep these areas painted will lead to softness and deterioration of the wood which can quickly become a costly repair.

2. Make sure the dirt around your foundation properly slopes away from the foundation and not towards it. Fill in any holes around the foundation and if necessary, and add dirt backfill around the foundation to ensure that water drains away from the home and not into a basement or crawl space.

3. Keep your gutters free of leaves and debris. Failure to do so can allow water to back up in the gutters and overflow which could lead to water penetration into your home. Add extenders to your downspouts so they don’t empty next to the foundation.

4. Check all windows and doors for gaps and seal them with a weather proof sealant to prevent water penetration. These areas need to be sealed to prevent water intrusion and serious damage. This will also help prevent heat loss in your home. Your tenants will thank you for this.

5. Routinely inspect any trees on your property for dead limbs or limbs that may be hanging down. Also keep an eye of the base of your trees. Any trees that are rotted at the bottom need to be removed before they fall on your house or a neighbor’s house. Trees not only will cause damage to the property, but dead limbs can become a liability issue if they fall and injure someone.

6. Monitor your roof for damaged or missing shingles. You should be especially vigilant after bad storms and high winds. Damaged or missing shingles can allow water penetration which inevitably leads to damage on the interior of the property. This dampness will allow mold to grow which can hide in your attic or behind the drywall as a result of even a small roof leak. Mold can become a serious and costly problem to correct.

7. If you have a wood burning fireplace, have the chimney inspected and cleaned once a year. It doesn’t take much creosote to cause a chimney fire. Personally I don’t like to have these types of fireplaces in rental property.

8. Have the heating and air conditioning system cleaned and inspected at least once a year for safety reasons. Also remember that the filters should be changed monthly. This will allow the system to run more efficiently and will place less wear and tear on it. Keep all vegetation cleared away from the exterior air conditioning unit to allow for proper air flow and function. These should be tenant responsibilities, and I recommend that they be in your lease and be part of the discussion when the lease is signed.

9. If you have a crawl space, you need to enter this area at least once a year and check this area. Look at the walls and the plumbing for signs of leaking. A musty smell in the home, higher than normal water bills and puddles on the floor of the crawl space can be indicators of a problem. If this area has standing water in it, do not enter it. Call a professional contractor to get rid of the water and figure out what the problem is. Many times illegal wiring can be found in crawl spaces and standing water can become deadly.

10. If you have ground fault circuit interrupters in the receptacles in your property, they must be tested or tripped on a monthly basis or they may not function properly. Failure to trip them regularly can result in ground fault circuit interrupters that either will not trip or will not reset after they are tripped. This should be part of routine home maintenance, and it’s easy to educate tenants to do this.

Take a little time regularly to stay on top of routine property maintenance, and you will save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

Do you have some other tips you want to add to the list?

Photo: Jeda Villa Bali

About Author

Sharon Vornholt

Sharon has been investing in real estate since 1998. She owned and operated a successful home inspection company for 17 years. In January of 2008 she took the leap of closing her business to become a full time real estate investor.


  1. Great post! Little things can become big things if not taken care Of quickly.
    On number two, also make sure none of the dirt I touching your siding. That can quickly rot wood siding.
    Also make sure your smoke and CO alarms have fresh batteries and are working properly.

  2. Such a great post, Sharon. We printed it out and gave it to our maintenance person.

    For some reason, we have a lot of issues with leaky faucets. We like our guys to carry washers to fix leaks when they see them!

    Thanks for making this list.

    • Karen –

      I think it’s a great idea to carry “parts” for things you regularly need. That all comes back to knowing your properties. When you keep good records of repairs done, it really helps with your future planning.

      For instance, if you have to keep going back to repair the same AC unit over and over there comes a point with you determine you just need to replace the unit; it’s no longer cost effective to simply repair it. You always have something useful to contribute Karen.


  3. Sharon,

    How do you go about tracking the completion of these items? I have setup a maintenance program to help me budget for long term expenses (roofs, furnaces, siding etc), but my short term plan needs some serious attention.


    • Jason –

      I think the key is to set up regular inspections for your property. Then just have a “cheat sheet” with everything on it that needs to be checked. Once you find the things that need to be corrected, just get them scheduled and check off the sheet or work order. I like tracking things on a whiteboard too because I am a visual person. If there are 6 repairs to be done on “property A””, they just get checked off as they are completed. Then the checklist can be put in the property file. This is important; you want to keep track of these things over the long term.

      (It’s also helpful to get an idea of when your roof will likely have to be replaced rather than just waiting. You can get this type of information by doing your inspections).

      If you keep track of all of the expenses by property for a year or two in Quickbooks, you will come up with a dollar amount that you have spent on each property. Then the amount you spent can be converted into a percentage to be set aside just like you are doing for the major systems in the house.

      I’m sure there is a general formula somewhere, but the amount you are likely to spend on an annual basis will be determined in part by the age and overall condition of the property. You wouldn’t have to set aside the same amount for newer houses as you would for older properties.

      One landlord that I know has over 200 properties. They use whiteboards too to keep track of things like maintenance and work orders. If you are a bigger company with multiple employees, you can also use something like Google calendar to post each person’s schedule. By posting their schedule for the next day late in the afternoon, they know exactly where they have to be at 8:00 am rather than calling the office, stopping for coffee and just generally getting a late start while they figure out their day etc.

      I hope this helps.

      • Sharon,

        That helps greatly. Ive got two whiteboards sitting in a closet. Time to dust em off. I’m visual as well. While I like having spreadsheets, I need the reminder on the wall.


        • Jason –

          I need it on the wall too. The great big calendar works great too. If you put everything down on it for 1 year, you will be amazed at how much different your business will look at the end of that time, Schedule everything. Plan everything.

          I have found that keeping it simple and keeping it in front of you where you have to look at it daily, it almost magical when it comes to getting things done.

          Keep me posted on how it is going.

    • Glenn –

      Without some type of a system or a plan, we all tend to forget things we should be doing. Just get a great big old wall calendar and schedule those types of things. That way they get done and you don’t have to worry about remembering them.


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