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5 Key Elements of an Effective Rental Maintenance Strategy

Remen Okoruwa
4 min read
5 Key Elements of an Effective Rental Maintenance Strategy

Successful landlords know the importance of keeping on top of maintenance. Well-maintained rental properties keep tenants happy and are more cost-effective to run. Typically, having a solid maintenance strategy in place reduces the need for expensive repairs. You’ll also find that appliances last longer.

However, as any experienced landlord or rental property owner knows, dealing with property maintenance is challenging. If you manage many rental units, it can be tricky to keep up with maintenance. You have to both deal with emergencies and schedule non-urgent repair requests. And, of course, you need an excellent maintenance strategy for preventative work.

But there’s another challenge when it comes to having a maintenance strategy: contractors. Because you typically hire professionals to maintain your rental properties, you need ones you can trust and who are available.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways landlords can develop rock-solid strategies to maintain rental properties and technology can revolutionize maintenance request processing.

Why landlords must have a maintenance strategy

Maintenance may sound like something that you can put off. When profit margins are tight, you may think that spending money on routine maintenance is expensive. There’s the adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But taking that approach can cause you to be on a never-ending treadmill of repairing broken appliances. Worse still, you could end up facing expensive repairs when something major breaks.

For instance, it’s recommended to change or clean HVAC filters every 90 days. Suppose you decide that you’ll save a bit of cash and time and change the filter every year. What happens is that dirt, dust, and grime build up in the unit. Now the unit has to work harder to heat or cool the apartment. This results in increased energy bills and a higher chance that the unit breaks down. So you end up with expensive bills and repairs—all of which are avoidable.

A better adage for successful landlords should be, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

How to develop a maintenance strategy

Let’s look in more detail at how to develop a maintenance strategy to keep your rental properties in good shape.

1. Decide who carries out maintenance tasks

First, decide who is going to do your property maintenance. If you are a startup landlord with some DIY skills and one or two rental units, you could do some jobs yourself and save some money. However, it’s usually best to get professionals. They can save you time, be on call 24/7, and do quality work.

It’s worth taking time to develop a reliable network of trusted maintenance contractors.

2. Schedule regular maintenance inspections

Maintaining rental properties should be about preventative maintenance, not about continually making repairs. Typically, at the end of a tenancy, you should thoroughly inspect the rental unit. Also, you could arrange a maintenance inspection when a tenant renews the lease. You could include in the rental agreement that property inspections take place upon the lease renewal.

Regular property inspections help you deal with any small issues before they become larger ones.

3. Keep up with appliances

Property maintenance should also include servicing appliances, HVAC units, water heaters, and elevators. To keep track of maintenance tasks, you need a list of systems that need regular servicing. Then, work out a schedule for maintenance servicing. For example, does the unit need servicing monthly or annually? Is it seasonal equipment that needs servicing in the fall and then in spring?

Scheduling maintenance prolongs the life of your assets and minimizes expensive repairs.

4. Communicate with tenants

Communication is a vital element of property maintenance. It’s essential to tell tenants to reach out to you with maintenance requests. You also need to help them realize their role in maintaining the rental unit. Also, do they know important information like where the stopcock is? That could be vital information to prevent a flood.

One of the best ways of streamlining maintenance is to use a property management app. With an app, a tenant can request repairs and send images of the issue. You can also inform the tenant about the timeframe and when the contractor will visit.

Additionally, a rental app is ideal for tracking repairs. For example, if faucets frequently leak, maybe it’s better to invest money in better quality plumbing fixtures. Software solutions for landlords also let you contact your contractors and track expenses.

Remember that by law, you need to give tenants adequate notice before you enter the property unless it’s an emergency.

5. Respond to all maintenance request promptly

Regardless of the issue, always respond quickly to repair requests. Even if the task isn’t urgent, tenants appreciate responsive landlords. It’s best to acknowledge the request, assess the situation, and then arrange for repairs.

Of course, issues like flooding, a smell of gas, no hot water, or electrical problems are emergencies. Additionally, problems like mold or broken appliances are urgent requests. You will need to deal with these problems promptly.

Other requests such as broken windows, a running toilet, squeaking door, or cracked tiles are not so urgent. However, tenants will still expect that they are resolved within a reasonable time.

More on rental property maintenance from BiggerPockets

How technology streamlines property maintenance

Technology is one of the best ways to schedule maintenance. A mobile property management app is an excellent communication tool for landlords and tenants. All tenants need to do is inform you of the request through the app. There are no more emails ending up in the spam folder or lost pieces of paper.

Many online apps also let landlords keep a database of contractors. This means that you can then assign repairs to the professionals, make payments, and keep tenants up to date.

Because you have a digital record of everything, it’s easier to track expenses. You may also get insights into when it becomes more cost-effective to replace a system rather than repair it.

Maintenance strategies and technology solutions

Running a successful landlord business requires multi-tasking. You must collect rent, fill vacancies, arrange viewings, and keep rental units well-maintained. Anything to make your job easier is going to save you time and money.

Using a trusted property management app is one way to simplify the day-to-day job of being a landlord. Online rent collection means no more waiting on checks to arrive and then driving to the bank. You can also process rental applications, screen tenants, take security deposits, and accept maintenance requests.

Keeping up with property maintenance is one of the most important ways to keep tenants happy and earn a stellar reputation as a great landlord.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.