Maintaining your rental property is key to continued and uninterrupted cash flow. It also helps you avoid emergency maintenance situations. The process really starts when you decide to convert a property into a rental, and it continues until your tenant moves out.
Initial Home Inspection
You must do a thorough initial inspection of every aspect of the home. Take a look at the inside and the outside. Get to know how the water and electrical systems are performing as well as the HVAC system and all of the appliances. Everything must be in working order, because if you get off to a good start, you’ll have fewer problems down the road when a tenant moves into your home. Make this list thorough, and use it as a basis for long term maintenance planning. If you looked at your roof and determined it will need to be replaced in three years, you can start saving for that expense. Look at the age of the hot water heater and the furnace. Determine if those things are getting close to the end of their useful lives. Plan ahead for major purchases.
After you have found a qualified tenant who is preparing to move in, have the tenant walk through the home and indicate any defects that are observed. They must document those things and turn the list over to you to use as a basis for determining what damage, if any, was caused during the tenancy. This is also important because it lets you know what the property needs, in terms of maintenance, for the tenant to live safely and comfortably. Document all of this.
Routine Maintenance Needs
When a tenant calls for maintenance, be responsive. Understand the problems and don’t be bothered when repairs are requested. Your tenants are your first eyes and ears when it comes to protecting your property. They can help you avoid major damage when they tell you about small problems. Sometimes it will seem like a tenant complains too much, and that’s frustrating for landlords. But, be patient with the process because any information you can get about your home from the tenant is good information to have. It also allows you to build a positive relationship with your tenant. If you have a great tenant in place, you want to keep that tenant there. You’ll be able to improve your chances of tenant retention when you take care of maintenance.
Document All Work
Document all the work that has been done, including the money that was spent. You must also keep track of the maintenance requests and report how much time it took to get the job done. This is critical for several reasons. It shows you the state of maintenance in your home for long term planning. It also brings goodwill to the tenant and shows you are responsive. Documentation may also help later if your tenancy ends with an eviction. You will be required to produce documentation to prove things were fixed when requested. This will be useful.
Move Out Inspection
Finally, when a tenant moves out, it’s important to document the state of the property. You want them to pay for any damage they created. This is another good time to really look at your property and decide what you need to do next to be able to increase the rent when a new tenant moves in.