You get a call in the middle of the night. A pipe burst at your rental property, and your tenant needs you to come fix it or call a plumber right away. Immediately, you think how much this will cost and where that money will come from.
You might assume that because your property has a tenant that it is the tenant’s responsibility to pay for any damage to your rental property. That, however, isn’t true. In most cases, landlords are responsible for keeping their property in a good, livable condition.
Even though landlords are responsible for maintenance and repairs, there are ways to minimize those costs. Here are seven of the most common maintenance and repair expenses and how to keep them low.
Electrical outlets, wiring and fixtures
Landlords are responsible for all electrical systems in a rental property from the fixtures to the wiring in the walls. If wiring is exposed, the landlord needs to act quickly to repair it before it starts a fire. If a ceiling fan won’t turn on, then the landlord will need to repair or replace it.
Move-in and move-out inspections are the perfect time to access the electrical system in your rental property. Check all the lights and fans to make sure they work and replace any that are looking a little old or showing their age.
When a pipe bursts or a toilet backs up, the landlord will be responsible for paying for a plumber to come out and do the repair. Any leaks or broken toilets, sinks or showers will need to be fixed promptly to avoid additional damage.
Don’t wait to make repairs or paint over water damage to hide it. This will almost certainly lead to more expensive repair costs later on.
Heating and cooling
Broken radiators, water heaters or air conditioners can make a rental property uninhabitable. In Washington, DC, tenants are allowed to legally break leases when the property is left in disrepair, and a faulty heating system in wintertime would likely persuade a judge that you’ve been neglectful of your property.
Any time a tenant moves in or out, you should spend a few hours at your rental property checking the heating and cooling, ensuring that they work okay. If something seems off, call in a technician before your new tenant arrives.
All refrigerators, dishwashers and other kitchen and laundry appliances will break down eventually. When they do, it’s your job to replace them.
Keep good records of when you purchased your appliances. This will help you predict when your appliances will need to be replaced, and you’ll be ready to budget for that expense.
Gutters, roof and siding
Landlords will be responsible for any damage done to the gutters, roof or building materials around the home. Neglecting regular gutter cleanings or waiting too long to repair a roof can lead to serious damage, such as water leaks in the basement or collapses.
Hire a gutter cleaning company to come out to your property once a month or every few years to clear your gutters. Since the job is outside, the tenant won’t need to be home, but you should inform them so they know what to expect.
Nothing scares away long-term tenants like a bug problem. All buildings in Washington, DC face the threat of cockroaches, bed bugs and mice.
When a tenant reports a pest problem, don’t wait. Call an exterminator immediately. If you have new tenants coming in, have an exterminator do an inspection before they arrive. The exterminator can clear out any infestations and make you aware of weakness around your property where an infestation could form. Take care of those weaknesses right away to prevent future infestations.
Wear and tear
Even if you have a great tenant who takes good care of your property, you’ll still have general wear and tear to contend with around your rental property. Carpets get dirty and ragged over time. Linoleum can crack, and cabinet doors in the kitchen or bathroom can come off their hinges.
The landlord is responsible for fixing all of these minor repairs. Before a new tenant moves in, make these minor repairs yourself or hire an expert to get them done. The next tenant will only cause more wear and tear, so make these minor fixes now to avoid bigger, more expensive fixes later.
A lot of these major maintenance and repair expenses can be avoided when you have a thorough move-in and move-out inspection in place. At Atlas Lane, our experts take special care to document all maintenance needs during these inspections to minimize surprises like broken pipes or damaged lighting fixtures. We even employ a team of HomePros to help teach tenants how to operate their homes and troubleshoot potential problems. With this approach, tenants take better care of their homes and landlords see fewer repair costs.
Ready to find out more? Contact Atlas Lane today.