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What Every Landlord Needs to Know About Maintenance

Maintenance can make or break a rental business; it can harm or boost a landlord’s business in four important ways.

The owner of a poorly-maintained property will find it hard to attract renters. Chances that tenants will suffer harm while living in a property and sue the owner are increased.

The landlord must carry out costly repairs regularly since minor issues are overlooked. The lack of proper maintenance will eventually lower the market value of the property.

Understanding the physical maintenance aspects of a property is as important as the business side of the rental. Property owners who find an efficient way of managing the myriad of maintenance tasks in a property will stay ahead in the business.

This guide helps owners gain a firm grasp of how to go about their property maintenance.

Who is responsible for maintaining a property?

The landlord is required by law to ensure that a rental is habitable before they turn it over to a tenant. A property is habitable when:

  • Hot & cold water, plumbing, ventilation, heating, air conditioning, electrical, sanitary and essential systems are adequate and working properly.
  • The building is structurally sound.
  • Its common areas are clean and safe.
  • The property is free from infestation and trash is promptly removed.

After the tenant move-in, it is the landlord’s responsibility to keep the property in good condition. The exception to this is when a tenant is responsible for damage or the tenant fails to report the damage to the owner.

Where a tenant is not responsible for causing damage and the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant may take action. The tenant has a right to withhold rent, move out of the property, or sue the owner.

How to maintain your property?

The best time to maintain a property is yesterday. To get the most from maintenance, owners must be proactive. Their goal should be to prevent damage, rather than repair it. Preventative maintenance does not wait for things to go wrong before it takes action.

Following is a guideline on how property owners can organize preventative maintenance of their property. It is divided into tasks that should be done seasonally and yearly. These tasks do not replace the routine checks landlords conduct on the property on a regular basis.

Spring Maintenance

  • Service the air conditioning before summer when it will be needed.
  • Reduce winter dampness; look for mold and, if necessary, rent a dehumidifier.
  • Spring-clean exteriors: power wash areas to blast away residual winter grime.
  • Spruce up the landscaping.

Summer Maintenance

  • Reduce the possibility of fire by trimming bushes and trees.
  • Spray the entire property to prevent infestation (extermination should be done monthly, or every two months, for the best results).
  • Check the sprinkler system.
  • Prepare outdoor amenities: pools, fire pits, and grills.

Autumn Maintenance

  • Clean-out gutters to prevent damage to landscaping, basement flooding or foundation failure.
  • Get an HVAC contractor to service furnaces; it is cheaper to do this in autumn than in winter.
  • Caulk and seal openings. Spaces in a structure can let in water, which will subsequently freeze and cause cracks and build-up of mold in the property.
  • Inspect the roof to ensure it can handle rapidly changing temperatures, as well as, snow, rain, ice, and wind.
  • Check the insulation in the attic to stop ice dams from forming.
  • Inspect supports, deck railings, patios, and entryways for strength and safety.

Winter Maintenance

  • Weather-proof the house; seal windows and insulate doors.
  • Prune trees; remove weakened branches that could break under the weight of snow. Clear accumulated debris.
  • Winterize pipes; drape to prevent bursting or freezing.

Yearly Maintenance Tasks

  • Check smoke and carbon dioxide detectors.
  • Test the sump pump to eliminate the possibility of flooding.
  • Drain the water heater to remove sediment that has built up in the heater.

Tenants’ maintenance responsibilities

It is not possible to keep a property well-maintained without the cooperation of tenants. The following tasks should be outsourced to tenants and included as conditions in the lease. Owners should ensure their rules are being kept by conducting regular inspections.

  • Require that tenants change air filters every three months.
  • Tenants should replace the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They should also conduct periodic testing.
  • The tenant should keep one or two faucets running slowly at all times during winter to prevent pipes freezing.
  • The tenant, being in constant contact with the property, is responsible for notifying the landlord, of any damage to the property, in a timely fashion.
  • It is the tenant’s responsibility to protect their personal belongings from damage.

Finally, this is an abridged version of the maintenance needs of a property. Landlords should look over the property with a professional, to draw up a detailed plan that suits the needs of the property.