Just about everyone takes care of the maintenance on their personal home; it's a matter of pride for most of us. We all know that it doesn't take too long for little problems to become big problems. Over the years, I have found that many landlords just aren't as diligent when it comes to resolving problems in their rental property.
So What's the Problem?
Why is it that they don't get taken care of in a timely manner? I think it's primarily the lack of having a system to help them stay on track. Landlords certainly know that the failure to diligently monitor the condition of their properties can lead to costly damage over time.
Another downside to not taking care of routine maintenance is that it will always lead to unhappy tenants, and unhappy tenants move out. This leaves you not only with a lot of costly repairs you have to do anyway but delays in getting the home rented again.
It's time to stop procrastinating. Here's a quick checklist you can use for keeping your properties in tip top shape.
Keep all wood on the exterior of the home painted. Failure to keep these areas painted will lead to softness and deterioration of the wood which can quickly become a costly repair.
Make sure the dirt around your foundation properly slopes away from the foundation and not towards it. Fill in any holes around the foundation and if necessary, and add dirt backfill around the foundation to ensure that water drains away from the home and not into a basement or crawl space.
Keep your gutters free of leaves and debris. Failure to do so can allow water to back up in the gutters and overflow which could lead to water penetration into your home. Add extenders to your downspouts so they don’t empty next to the foundation.
Check all windows and doors for gaps and seal them with a weather proof sealant to prevent water penetration. These areas need to be sealed to prevent water intrusion and serious damage. This will also help prevent heat loss in your home. Your tenants will thank you for this.
Routinely inspect any trees on your property for dead limbs or limbs that may be hanging down. Also keep an eye of the base of your trees. Any trees that are rotted at the bottom need to be removed before they fall on your house or a neighbor’s house. Trees not only will cause damage to the property, but dead limbs can become a liability issue if they fall and injure someone.
Monitor your roof for damaged or missing shingles. You should be especially vigilant after bad storms and high winds. Damaged or missing shingles can allow water penetration which inevitably leads to damage on the interior of the property. This dampness will allow mold to grow which can hide in your attic or behind the drywall as a result of even a small roof leak. Mold can become a serious and costly problem to correct.
If you have a wood burning fireplace, have the chimney inspected and cleaned once a year. It doesn’t take much creosote to cause a chimney fire. Personally I don’t like to have these types of fireplaces in rental property.
Have the heating and air conditioning system cleaned and inspected at least once a year for safety reasons. Also remember that the filters should be changed monthly. This will allow the system to run more efficiently and will place less wear and tear on it. Keep all vegetation cleared away from the exterior air conditioning unit to allow for proper air flow and function. These should be tenant responsibilities, and I recommend that they be in your lease and be part of the discussion when the lease is signed.
If you have a crawl space, you need to enter this area at least once a year and check this area. Look at the walls and the plumbing for signs of leaking. A musty smell in the home, higher than normal water bills and puddles on the floor of the crawl space can be indicators of a problem. If this area has standing water in it, do not enter it. Call a professional contractor to get rid of the water and figure out what the problem is. Many times illegal wiring can be found in crawl spaces and standing water can become deadly.
If you have ground fault circuit interrupters in the receptacles in your property, they must be tested or tripped on a monthly basis or they may not function properly. Failure to trip them regularly can result in ground fault circuit interrupters that either will not trip or will not reset after they are tripped. This should be part of routine home maintenance, and it’s easy to educate tenants to do this.