When it comes to owning a rental property, one of the biggest and most time-consuming responsibilities is maintaining and repairing the home. In fact, maintenance is often listed as one of the biggest pain points in rental property ownership. 

But why is the maintenance of a rental property so taxing for landlords? Keeping your rental home in top condition requires year-round attention, good communication with tenants, and regular, meticulous inspections.

Additionally, maintenance fees can be costly for any rental property owner. Luckily, there are ways to make this aspect of owning a rental home easier on you and your business!

By adhering to a few rules, staying organized, and implementing an appropriate budgeting plan, you can avoid the more difficult aspects of rental property maintenance, lower the amount of stress caused by repairs, and keep your tenants happy while living in your rental home. 

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

In this blog post, we will guide you through some of the strategies you can use to make maintaining your rental property a breeze.

Regular Maintenance

Regardless of how well your rental property is treated by your tenants, there are some maintenance issues that are simply unavoidable. This includes issues like a leaky faucet or an appliance being worn down due to normal wear and tear.

A couple and their property manager sitting on a couch looking at a document

However, there are other issues that are able to be solved before they turn into serious, more costly problems. This is done by implementing a regular maintenance and inspection schedule. 

These areas of the rental home should be inspected on a regular basis, whether it’s weekly, monthly, or yearly. An example of this can be a furnace inspection. 

Committing to a regular maintenance schedule isn’t just about avoiding future large and costly repairs, but it is also about providing tenants with a habitable and enjoyable living experience. 

When your tenants can see that you care for the property and want their living experience to be a positive one, they will be more likely to remain in the rental home for a longer amount of time. 

Often, good maintenance practices can be the key to keeping tenants long-term. At the end of the day, implementing regular maintenance is a better use of your time and money than having to frequently find new tenants.

The best way to maintain a thorough and effective maintenance schedule for your rental property is to keep a detailed list that is specific to you and your property’s needs. 

An assortment of tools on a wooden table

Here is an example of what a good landlord should be doing regularly to ensure their property stays in top condition:

  1. Check for leaks in the property’s plumbing fixtures. This is especially important following a storm of any kind. Water damage can be expensive and time-consuming for any landlord to fix, in addition to causing health issues for tenants.
  2. Make sure to replace any air filters on the property as frequently as needed. 
  3. Regularly test any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors that are present on the property.
  4. Do a quarterly check for pests. If there is a greater risk of pest infestation in your property, do this monthly. 
  5. Make sure all showers and bathtubs are properly calked to prevent mold and mildew from growing, in addition to preventing leaks. 
  6. Tighten the handles, faucets, knobs and locks of the home. 
  7. Check all fire extinguishers to ensure that they aren’t expired and can be used in an emergency.
  8. Flush the water heater.
  9. Have the gutters of the home cleaned routinely.
  10.  Keep an eye on any trees that grow on the property, and be sure to cut down or trim any that may be a threat to power lines or structures.

In addition to these minor maintenance responsibilities, a good landlord should also create a schedule for bigger projects such as carpet replacement or repainting the walls of the home. 

Two people talking to a third person in a suit

This schedule will be dependent on the amount of wear and tear each unit goes through, but it is recommended that any landlord should schedule these types of projects every three years.

Regular Inspections

One of the most effective ways to stay on top of the maintenance of your rental property is to conduct regular inspections. There are four main types of property inspections that any landlord can do to keep their properties in top shape. 

1. Move-In Inspections

This is a walkthrough inspection that is typically conducted alongside your new tenant prior to them moving into the property. This provides your new resident with an opportunity to find any concerns with the property, in addition to allowing you, to properly document the condition of the home before a new tenancy.

2. Routine Inspections 

These inspections should ideally be scheduled on a quarterly basis with your residents present. When conducting this type of inspection, it is important for you, as the landlord, to provide your tenant with adequate notice before entering the property. 

The laws regarding this notice can vary from state to state, but usually the standard amount of time needed is 24 hours. These inspections are an opportunity for a landlord to find maintenance issues early. 

Additionally, your tenant will appreciate the opportunity to address any repairs that are needed on the property, such as a leaky faucet or a loose door handle.

Bald person in a green shirt inspecting the siding of a house

3. Drive-By Inspections

A drive-by inspection is when a landlord takes time to stop by the rental home and observe the outside condition of the property. This can help you spot any issues such as an unauthorized pet on the property. 

4. Move-Out Inspections 

This is an inspection that occurs when your tenant moves out of the rental property and it serves multiple purposes. 

Not only can these inspections help the landlord find damage that may have been caused by the resident during their tenancy, but you can also identify any normal wear and tear repairs or maintenance issues that will need to be addressed before a new tenant moves in. 

By conducting a move-out inspection with your tenant present, you will be able to determine how much of your tenants’ security deposit to use for the repairs, in addition to giving them a chance to make the repairs themselves before the lease ends. 

Budgeting for Property Maintenance Expenses

When it comes to owning a rental property, trying to determine how much money to set aside for maintenance costs can be tricky. This is especially true when you consider any unexpected repairs that you will want to be prepared for. 

Many successful landlords and property managers use what is often referred to as the 1% Rule. When using this strategy, 1% of the total value of your property would be set aside to cover the cost of any maintenance issues or repairs. 

Person dangling a key over someone else who is signing a document

So, as an example, if you own a rental property that is valued at $200,000, you would want to budget for $2,000 in maintenance expenses each year. This will help you prepare for any unexpected repairs without breaking the bank, in addition to paying for regular small repairs or inspections. 

While this strategy can be useful for many rental property owners, it is just a rule of thumb. There are many factors that may require you to incorporate a higher or lower budget for maintenance costs. These factors include the age of your property, the cost of living where your property is located, or how many tenants you have in one property. 

To account for larger, more costly repairs, such as a new roof or a large renovation of the property, you may want to use a different formula to budget for the expenses. This formula is called the 50% Rule

This strategy suggests that half of your rental property’s income should be set aside and used for operating costs. This includes not only maintenance and repair expenses, but also anything from taxes to landlord’s insurance

Ultimately, this means that if a landlord receives $1,500 per month in rent payments, they should set aside $750 of each payment to account for maintenance and operating expenses. 

Maintenance worker checking a fire alarm

When Do You Do It Yourself and When Should You Hire a Professional?

Your maintenance budget for your rental property should also depend on whether you opt to personally do the majority of the repairs yourself, or hire a professional to take care of things. 

Before making this decision, it is important to do an honest assessment of your own abilities regarding household repairs, in addition to the amount of time you have to dedicate to keeping up with these responsibilities. 

While it may be tempting to save some money and do all the repairs yourself, you may find that your time and money will be better spent elsewhere. By hiring a reliable contractor to take care of maintenance issues, you can make sure that the repairs are done well and that your tenants will be satisfied. 

It is important to keep in mind that taking care of the maintenance of a rental property requires a wide range of skills. This varies from plumbing to electrical expertise, in addition to being able to troubleshoot problems quickly and effectively. 

Maintenance requests can also come in at any time of the day or night. If you choose to handle all of your rental property’s repairs directly, you must be prepared for any situation. 

It is also important to note that your tenants will not be concerned with how much money you save by doing the repairs yourself. They will mainly be concerned with the quality of work when it comes to maintaining their living environment. 

Person in a flannel shirt using a screwdriver to work on an air conditioning unit

In fact, one of the biggest causes of high tenant turnover is poor maintenance. Maintenance requests from your tenant should be addressed as soon as possible in order to keep your tenant happy and willing to renew their lease. 

Additionally, if an issue is left for too long, the tenant may try to make the repair themself. This can cause even more problems with the property. They may even choose to withhold rent payments until the issue is resolved. 

If the repair is not made in a timely manner and your renter is forced to live in a property that they feel is unsafe, they may call the local housing authorities to inspect the property. This can all lead to unfortunate legal issues that can be easily avoided by making repairs quickly. 

When it comes to maintenance help, there is no shortage of options. For example, companies such as American Home Shield offer clients warranties on any major fixtures of the home such as a water heater or HVAC system in exchange for a paid monthly fee.

Effective Rental Maintenance Results in Happy Tenants

At the end of the day, having an effective maintenance schedule is the key to a well-managed rental property. 

A couple and their property manager sitting on a couch

If you want to keep your tenants happy and continue having low vacancy and turnover rates, it is imperative to implement a regular maintenance routine for your rental property, even if you only own one single-family home. This includes making any necessary repairs in a timely manner. 

After all, your rental property is the face of your business, and if it is not well maintained, you won’t be able to retain qualified tenants. If your repairs take too long, you could even run into legal trouble with your renters. 

Bottom Line

Be sure to always quickly address maintenance calls from your tenants to ensure that they are having a positive rental experience. In fact, good maintenance and repair practices can often be the most effective way to keep long-term, high-quality tenants. Your tenants will appreciate knowing that you care about the quality of their living environment. 

After a repair has been made to the property, consider following up with your tenant by sending them a short survey or giving them a call to determine whether or not they’re happy with the quality of the repairs. It may also be a good idea to thoroughly document each and every repair with notes and photos. 

We hope this article was helpful for creating your own maintenance and repair schedule for your rental home!