Maintenance Tips for Property Managers
“Great! I’m so excited that my tenant just called and asked me to fix up something in their property!” ~ said no property manager ever.
When it comes to tenants and the never-ending stream of maintenance tasks, upkeep projects and emergency fixes, it can sometimes feel as though the property is crashing down around your ears.
But never fear – it’s easy enough to keep on top of things in your property as long as you have the right strategy. So keep reading, and we’ll let you in on a few tips that will make maintenance easy-peasy in the future.
Know your property
Sure, you think you’ve got a fair idea of what goes down in your rental property, but how well do you actually know what’s going on inside the place? When were you last there, for example? How often do you chat with your tenants?
I’ve known landlords to think their property was going fine and dandy, until one of the taps in the bathtub fell off at a small touch. Why did it fall off? Because none of the taps had been replaced since the apartment block was built in the 1970s.
If you know your property, know what has and hasn’t been replaced or fixed in the past few years, these incidents won’t give you such a shock.
Also – know your legal responsibilities
Most landlords are pretty good with this, but it is an important point, so I’ll just reiterate briefly. As a landlord, you must give the appropriate notice to your tenant before visiting them, even if it is for a repair. Dropping in quickly on a Monday after work might be convenient for you, but you will need to check if it’s okay with your renter as well.
Cover the easy stuff first
You’re going to receive some dumb calls during your time as a property manager, especially if you tend to rent to first-time tenants.
To avoid such calls, it may be useful to leave a ‘FAQ’ sheet somewhere easily accessible – for example, taped to the inside of the kitchen pantry or stapled to the back of your lease.
Such answers could include what to do if your dishwasher isn’t cleaning dishes properly – it might be that the tenant is overfilling the machine or not putting in the right powder.
Or providing the tenant with a plunger and suggesting that they take a quick turn at a blocked toilet and/or sink before contacting you or your office.
If you do have to get involved, however, make sure to…
K.I.S.S – Keep it simple, stupid.
This one kind of speaks for itself. Don’t overdo your repairs and maintenance work, otherwise you’ll end up with an even bigger mess on your hands. Related to this piece of advice is the next point…
Recognise when to call in the pros
There are people whose job it is to fix things like leaking pipes, collapsed fences and broken awnings. Your kids (or parents) might think you’re Superman, but in these events, it’s best to realise your limits and call in the professionals (even if Google/Pintrest make it look simple).
Trust the tenant
Allow your tenant to take care of things (as best as they are able to, of course). When I was a student, one of my landlords was so terrified that I’d ruin the simplest job, and nothing was ever done. I couldn’t even temporarily patch a hole in our flyscreen. But the next property I rented, I had a good working relationship with the landlord, and she let me fix up some of the smaller things around the place, like painting over a small stain on a wall in the kitchen. We’re not advocating telling the renter to take on a violently gushing burst waterpipe by themselves, but a lick of paint over a scratch, or some tape over a damaged flyscreen won’t reduce the value of your property and make your tenant happier with their place.
While we’re on the topic of keeping tenant-landlord relations as happy as possible during repairs and maintenance, make sure you’re honest when talking to the tenant about how long repairs might take. For example, I once had water coming in from my ceiling, and my real estate agent told me it would be fixed within the fortnight – fast forward to a month later and nobody had even come to look at the hole in the roof. Don’t sugar-coat the problem if it’s likely that they’re going to spend a little while in discomfort. Tell them everything you know (within reason, of course) so that their expectations are the same as yours, and they won’t be so upset when a repair takes a bit longer than is ideal.
Increasingly, this tip is turning out to be helpful for your bank accounts as well as for the environment. Water-saving taps and showerheads reduce leakages and last longer than their non-environmentally friendly counterparts. Power-smart lightbulbs cut down on electricity usage, slashing power bills and are less likely to cause short-circuits. If your property is equipped with washing machines, dryers and/or dishwashers, you should also ensure that your tenant knows how to operate these machines in an environmentally conscious way. Again, this will save money for them on the power bills, and decreases the likelihood that you’ll be called out there to repair an ill-used white good.
Well, hopefully we’ve managed to help you out with a few ideas about how to keep your property in tip-top condition and get along with your tenant in the process. If you are looking for something a bit more challenging, however, keep an eye out and we’ll have something up soon about re-vamping your property easily and on a budget.