The Ultimate Guide for Rental Property Maintenance

Owning a rental property can be an enriching and profitable experience – if you are well-prepared.  Without the knowhow and drive to perform regular maintenance, you will likely be faced with unnecessary repairs.  Be sure to set money aside and learn the in’s and out’s of rental property maintenance to make the most of your real estate investments.

Rental Property Maintenance

A helpful guide on the ins and out of Property Maintenance

Inspection Prior to Move In

Before buying rental properties, you want to ensure that the home is inspected prior to move in.  But did you know that you should take a look at these items once a year?  Some things that will need to be inspected every so often include: the foundation around the home, heating/cooling air system, chimney, window/door seals, gutters, exterior of the home, and trees surrounding the home (especially the base). These are just a few of the major things that tend to be forgotten about that can be big ticket items if left unmanaged.

Lawn Maintenance

This is where the gray area tends to start. Right off the bat, you will want to make sure your lease includes something about the tenant caring for the lawn or that you incorporate lawn care into the price of the rent. This just saves you from any future complaints, overgrowth, etc.

With lawn maintenance, there can be three different types of “agreements” for lawn care which can also include shoveling snow, lawn care, or tree removal.  The first type of agreement would be a full service agreement. This is where the landlord would cover all the costs and care of the lawn. The second agreement would be a self-service agreement where the tenant would maintain the yard which includes the mowing, trimming, shoveling, etc.. The last agreement would be a middle ground agreement where the duties of the yard are split between the tenant and the landlord. In the opinion of most, this seems to be the most favorable. All in all, you want to be sure that your home and lawn are taken care of. Sometimes no one does a better job than you!

Who is Responsible for What?

As the landlord, you are responsible for the big ticket items. This can range from electrical, air systems, plumbing, to pool equipment. When is a landlord required to fix minor issues? Any issues that render the property unlivable (such as mold or a loose floor board), any repairs that inhibit state laws and repairs that are a result of normal wear and tear.

Your tenants are expected to keep the property in reasonable condition, so any issues that arise due to tenant neglect or abuse generally fall under their responsibility.  Getting locked out of their apartment and kicking in the door for example.  That broken door needs to be replaced by the tenant.

Replacing or Repairing?

Most repairs you make around your investment property can be written off as tax benefits.  Common sense says this should be your first step when considering a maintenance issue around the home anyway. However, there are some consequences of opting for a repair when the item continually breaks down.  Wasted money and upset tenants (constant repair interferes with their day-to-day life) to name a few.

The downside of a full replacement is you can’t always take a straight deduction for it.  Although, you likely can have the item depreciated each year until it reaches the end of its life.

Consequences of Failure to Maintain

Rental property maintenance is not just in the best interest of your tenant, but it is in your best interest also.  If a tenant makes a request, do whatever you can to resolve the issue.

Some consequences that can occur when maintenance fails to be properly addressed:

  • Some tenants might make the necessary repairs and then request that maintenance is deducted from their rent.
  • Some might withhold their rent or pay less rent until the problem is fixed.
  • Another possibility is that they get professionals involved, such as building inspectors and incur more expenses than it would have cost you had you tackled it early on.
  • One of the worst outcomes is they sue or move out without paying future rent (breaking the lease). So do yourself a favor and anticipate maintenance issues and take care of them as soon as you can!

Do yourself an even bigger favor and hire a responsible property manager to handle all the maintenance for you!


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