The Landlord’s Guide to Rental Property Maintenance
As a landlord, there are a plethora of responsibilities that must be taken care of.
Some of which can be a real hassle, like uncooperative tenants and a loss in rental income.
Another responsibility that landlords typically do not like dealing with is rental property maintenance.
Conducting routine maintenance on a property entails year-round attention to the condition of the property, preventative maintenance, and high rental property maintenance costs for the property owner.
This is not something that is easy to deal with all year round. Especially if you have multiple properties in your portfolio.
Luckily, we're here to help ease the pain of maintenance on your investment property.
In this guide, we will be going over everything about maintenance, including different types as well as rental property maintenance expenses.
So, to get started, let's go over why maintenance is so important for a rental property.
Why Rental Property Maintenance is So Important
When it comes to maintenance on rental properties, it can be easy to see the immediate effects. However, what many people don't realize is that maintenance goes much further than just fixing something that is broken.
When a landlord conducts maintenance on a rental property, they are essentially investing in maintaining the property value. This means that they are investing in their own rental property income by conducting rental property maintenance.
One way that this applies is because it is the landlord's responsibility to keep the property clean and habitable for the tenants. This is not only a responsibility; it is required by many state and local laws regarding rental properties.
So, apart from being a solid investment in your properties, maintenance is also required by law. And, if landlords do not comply with these laws, there can be various consequences, listed below.
Consequences of Not Performing Maintenance
Since maintenance has to do with the general wellbeing of the property and the tenant, there are some consequences associated with not doing it.
Below, we have listed some of the most common courses of action a tenant can take if maintenance isn't done. They are listed from the least severe to the most severe.
Withholding Rent Payments
Depending on your state's laws and regulations, the tenant may have the right to withhold rent payments from the landlord. This could happen in the case of the landlord not conducting a certain rental property repair the tenant requested.
However, this does not necessarily mean that the landlord will not receive the payments. The tenant will often place the payments in an escrow account. This way, the landlord or property manager will receive all of the money after the maintenance is done.
Hiring a Third Party
If the landlord fails to perform the necessary rental property maintenance in a timely manner, the tenant may hire a third party to take care of it. This is usually the case if the tenant has provided proper notice to the landlord and has granted them ample time.
This method would fall completely under the discretion of the tenant, as they will choose the third-party contractor. Thus, it is up to them to choose one that is reasonably priced and who is trustworthy. Then, the expenses are usually deducted from the next rent payment.
In some extreme cases, the tenant may be able to contact local authorities regarding the repairs. This is typically the case only when the problem violates some sort of health code or local building ordinance.
Once it reaches this point, the authorities may conduct an inspection of the property. After that, if a violation is found, the landlord can face an order to conduct the repair as well as extra fines and penalties.
Finally, if the lack of maintenance is persuasive and interferes with the tenant's right to live, the tenant may evict themselves. When this happens, the tenant moves out of the rental property and ends the lease agreement. Then, the tenant files a constructive eviction lawsuit against the landlord.
It is important that the tenant is able to prove that the landlord was given proper notice of the required maintenance. They must also prove that the condition of the property was uninhabitable and that they left in a reasonable time. If the landlord is found guilty, they may face severe financial repercussions.
Not sure about your state's landlord-tenant laws and want to find out more? Visit DoorLoop's Real Estate Rental Laws page to learn everything about your state.
Now that we know all about the consequences of not keeping up with maintenance on your properties, let's go over the most common property maintenance repairs that are done on a property.
Common Examples of Rental Property Maintenance
Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between maintenance that should be done by the tenant and that should be done by the landlord.
Below we have listed the most common examples of maintenance that the landlord is responsible for.
Routine maintenance is the most common maintenance that will be done on a rental property with standard wear and tear. This maintenance includes things smaller things that can be done relatively quickly and easily, and on a routine basis. This could include landscaping, picking up trash, or other things around the property.
The maintenance cost of this rental maintenance is often very easy to calculate. There are even a lot of things that you can exclude from your budget, like changing the batteries on smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. These are typically the tenant's responsibility, so you don't have to worry about them.
The mechanical systems of a property include plumbing, heating, electrical, and gas appliances. Although these systems typically undergo normal wear and tear, things like the water heater or a broken appliance may sometimes require replacement. When a replacement is required, the annual maintenance costs of a property can potentially skyrocket.
Another one of the landlord's most important maintenance responsibilities is making sure that the property is structurally sound. This means making sure that things such as the roof, the attic, sidewall, driveways, and walls are in good condition.
This is also one of the things that can severely drive up yearly maintenance costs. For this reason, it is suggested that landlords take preventative measures, like conducting routine inspections.
Seasonal Rental Property Maintenance
Depending on the location of the rental property, a professional property manager may be responsible for handling seasonal maintenance. This could mean pruning trees, removing snow, or cleaning gutters.
It is also important to keep the lawn orderly and clean to prevent housing ticks, fleas, or rodents. This is oftentimes taken over by the tenant themselves, but can occasionally be part of the landlord's responsibilities.
Painting and Flooring
One of the other things that are almost always the landlord's responsibility is revamping the paint and the flooring. Re-painting a property after a tenant leaves is an amazing way to increase tenant turnover. It is also one of the only options if the previous tenant left the walls in poor condition.
The flooring is also something that goes through tons of wear and tear as the years go by. Carpet floors are especially susceptible to damages and suffer the most compared to other types of flooring. In the case of carpet, the best course of action may be to get it cleaned every year by a professional.
Now that we know about some of the common repairs landlords are responsible for, let's go over the important part - the money.
The Cost of Rental Property Maintenance
It is very easy to talk about all the things that need to be taken care of in a rental property. The hard part comes when it is time to pay for them.
This is when you would want to have a sound maintenance budget in place. Below, we will be going over some of the most useful rules to budget maintenance costs.
Also, assuming that any one of these rules will work perfectly for you is simply a rental property maintenance myth. It is important to analyze each rule and decide which one is best for you - or make your own!
The 1% rule entails taking 1% of your total property value and setting that much aside for maintenance every year. For example, if your property is valued at $450,000, you should set aside $4,500 every year for rental property maintenance expenses.
The reason that this rule is effective is that there is a strong relationship between the value of your home and the cost of maintenance. Here, the relationship is that both factors depend on the price of materials and labor in your region. So, if house prices go up, so will the cost of maintenance.
This is a very common rule used to plan out maintenance budgets for rental property maintenance. The rule stipulates that property managers, or property management companies, should devote 50% of their rental income to maintenance costs. Since this is typically a larger amount, it also goes towards taxes, insurance, utilities, etc.
For example, if you take home $1,500 a month in income, you would devote $750 every month to cover all of those expenses.
Square Footage Formula
The next way to calculate your maintenance budget is by using a square footage formula. The square footage formula assigns a value of $1 to each square foot that your property covers and you set this much aside each year for maintenance.
For example, if your property is 1,500 square feet, you would set aside $1,500 each year for maintenance.
This budgeting rule simply takes the monthly rent and multiplies it by 1.5x. This is then the amount that you should devote to maintenance every year.
For example, if the monthly rent is $2,500, you would set aside $3,750 for maintenance.
In conclusion, maintenance is something that every landlord should be very wary of. There are so many benefits of being up to date with maintenance and many drawbacks to not paying much attention to it.
Also, it's required by law in many states, so brush up on local and state laws to make sure you are in accordance.
Do you want to learn how to rehabilitate your rental property? Give this a read: How to Rehabilitate a Rental Property
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