10 Must-Do Maintenance Tasks to Keep Your Rental Property Issue-Free

by | BiggerPockets.com

Do you like cleaning?

I don’t either.

But I like to have my rental properties well run without much daily oversight… so it has to get done!

For much of the country, the warmer weather sparks a renewed motivation in homeowners to tackle tasks that may have been pushed aside during the shorter days and colder temperatures. If you are managing your rental properties on your own, it may be a good time to do some cleaning. Being proactive with maintenance responsibilities can also prevent calls from your tenants. Equally as important, it can also provide insight on how your tenant is treating your property.

Here are 10 maintenance tasks to knock off your to-do list:

Interior

1. Change furnace filers.

Completing this task is an easy way to ensure the heating system is running at top performance. Furnace filters are inexpensive, ranging from $10-$20 each. If you have more than one unit to maintain with similar filter sizes, buy them in bulk to save time and money.

2. Replace smoke & carbon dioxide detector batteries.

The recommended standard is to change batteries in your smoke detectors in the spring and the fall at Daylight Savings Time. The reasons are obvious: change the batteries to ensure your tenants are safe; no one wants a lawsuit due to non-functioning detectors. Depending on your tenants, it could be beneficial to change them on the off chance that your tenants are inclined to break the detector instead of replacing it to stop the chirping when the battery is dead.


Related: 10 Tips For Maintaining Your Rental Properties

3. Ensure that lint from the dryer vent has a clear path to the outside.

Obviously this is applicable to units that have interior washer-dryers. Also, if the complex has shared amenities, it’s wise to check the dryer vents. Start by checking the lint holder in the dryer to ensure it’s free of lint; if there is a large amount of lint, it may indicate that the lint holder is not emptied regularly enough (each time the dryer is used). Remove the hose that attaches to the back of your dryer and check for any build up. If you see any, use a vacuum to remove it. Also check to make sure there are no holes in the vent system.

4. Flush the water heater.

This task may be slightly more involved, but it is vitally important to the longevity and efficiency of your water heater. The water tank tends to hold sediment at the bottom of the tank, and by flushing the water heater, it removes the sediment. Doing this yearly will maintain the efficiency of heating water. I recommend reading this article on the Family Handyman website to learn how best to flush your water heater.

5. Clean sinks.

Clogged drains can be landlord’s archenemies. By cleaning them out, you help eliminate calls about clogged pipes. An inexpensive cleaning method is to use half a cup of baking soda, and let it sit for five minutes. Then add one cup vinegar and a pot of very hot water; let it sit covered for five minutes and then run hot water through it for 30 seconds.

Exterior

6. Clean gutters and remove leaves.

Depending on the size of your property, this task may be manageable yourself, or it may be something you contract out. Either way, it is important to make sure that the gutters are clear and drain water properly. Any leaves on the ground can be mowed over using a mulching mower serving a dual purpose — improving the appearance of the yard and fertilizing the grass.

7. Check siding and roofing for visible signs of problems.

Walk around the home and check for any damage or potential problems. Wind can cause branches to damage the siding and roofing shingles.

8. Check sump pump and make sure it’s still operational.

A sump pump can be a true money saver if there is water from excessive rainfall or melting of snow. You want to make sure the outdoor drain is not clogged or block. Inside, you want to make sure the sump pump turns on when it needs to. Check out this article for specifics.

Related: How to Upgrade Your Property Just Enough to Make it Profitable [With Pics!]

9. Trim landscaping.

Cleaning up the landscaping has many advantages. Trimming branches that might be encroaching on your home keeps the window screens protected. It also removes dead branches that could break off during strong winds. Additionally, the neighbors might see you and take the opportunity to speak with you and provide feedback on your tenant’s behaviors. And above all else, it will make your property look nice, which can attract ideal tenants if the property becomes available for rent.

10. Inspect the crawl space; look for bugs and water leaks.

It may not be the most fun chore, but it can save you money if you catch a small problem before it destroys a month of cash flow. Go into the crawl space and see if there are any creatures that may have made it their winter home. Also check to see if any of the wood shows indications of water damage.

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Some of these may or may not be applicable to your properties depending on the size and style, but hopefully they have reminded you of the benefits of preventative maintenance.

By doing regular maintenance you keep a close eye on your property. The preemptive maintenance work fosters trust from your tenant by demonstrating that you are concerned about the upkeep. It is also an opportunity to connect with the tenant and see if they are happy with the unit or if they are planning to leave anytime soon. A little bit of preventative maintenance can save money and potentially headaches in the future.

Anything you’d add to this list?

Comment below!

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner (G+ | Twitter) spends a lot of time on BiggerPockets.com. Like… seriously… a lot. Oh, and he is also an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, traveler, third-person speaker, husband, and author of “The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down“, and “The Book on Rental Property Investing” which you should probably read if you want to do more deals.

9 Comments

  1. kenneth chen

    Dear Brandon,
    This is wonderful, thank you. I am in between tenants, so doing baking soda and vinegar in both drains today. On a related note, I just changed the kitchen faucet, and installed new shut off valves, the first plumbing work in my lifetime, I am 60 years old so that’s a long time! Will also be changing the bathroom sink faucet, which I discovered also drips. Regret not noticing earlier, as although gas and electric is metered separately, we pay 100 percent of the water bill.

  2. Sara Kennedy

    While I have no tenants at the moment, this is a great list to have for the future. I have only been a renter, so I definitely wouldn’t have thought of most of these items. As always, thanks for the helpful tips Brandon!

  3. steve bass

    Great reminders for all Brandon. Just setting a routine maintenance schedule is a good thing……often easier said than done. In 2017 my wife challenged me to get organized. So I made 2017 the year of getting into all of our properties. We have 9 doors, mostly duplexes and I inspected all properties, cleaned and checked roofs/gutters and replaced all smoke/CO detectors in 30 days. Was rough but was very helpful. I found 2 roof issues, leaking water heater, leaking toilet, a couple of cleanliness concerns. Informing tenants that I would be over to clean gutters, place moss out on roofs (Oregon), test smoke detectors, and check for water leaks under sinks got me in the door to look around. It was great and the tenants actually appreciated it.
    Over the last couple of years I’ve created a pretty (self-proclaimed) amazing excel file to track financials, document notes and tenant communication and last year I added tracking maintenance. At any moment I can tell you when I last did or have ever done maintenance of any kind on each property.
    Organization is key and so is knowing the status of your property.
    Thanks again for a great article Brandon. I’ve actually learned a ton from you, trial and error and the rest dumb luck!

  4. Cathy Williams

    This is a great list. I would add to the Interior list: check washing machine supply lines, sink and toilet supply lines and toilet rings. I am just learning about property management and maintenance. These suggestions come from a condo HOA meeting I recently attended for a condo our family owns that might become a rental. Apologies if these would fall under categories already covered — I’m a newbie!

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