Most beginning rental property owners do their own maintenance. If it’ll save $250, just rake the leaves yourself. If a tenant complains that a toilet is leaking, a quick inspection will reveal that the Johnny Seal needs to be replaced. If an electrical outlet starts sparking or a ceiling fan comes crashing down, you know how to replace one right? In most areas you won’t be able to do any electrical work yourself, even if you know how. Electrical work on most commercial properties often needs to be performed by a licensed electrician. Rental properties are not for the do-it-yourselfer. Even if it is legal to do your own electrical work in your area, think of the legal ramifications. If the building burns down and faulty wiring is determined to be the cause, you’ll probably be sued for everything you’re worth. Since rental properties are commercial properties, it’s best to leave some of the repairs to the professionals.
Once you’ve acquired several rental units, you’re going to want to hire a property management service. The service will handle the rentals and evictions for a small percentage of the monthly rental income. Some property management services work for as little as 5% of the monthly rental income. If you decide to not hire a property management service, what’s the worst that could happen? You could be across the country on vacation, business, or a family funeral when all hell breaks loose. The toilet in one rental unit falls through the floor while the stove in another unit shorts out and causes extensive fire damage to the kitchen. How much can you do from 2,000 miles away?
Once you’ve decided to hire a property management service, make a list of everything for which you expect the service to be responsible. The absolute minimum should include screening and approving new tenants, collecting rental payments, and handling evictions. The property management service could also act as a liaison between you and and other professional services such as HVAC companies, landscapers, electricians, plumbers, the local fire department. Yes, the local fire department will make regular inspections of the property and possibly issue citations for any violations discovered during the inspections.
Below are just a few of the items you might want to consider having the property management service either perform or hire contractors to do.
Clean out the gutters
Check garage doors and adjust if necessary
Inspect for termites and other creepy crawlers
Semi-annual or annual insect extermination and/or preventative services
Inspect trees for weak or broken limbs
Check outside water faucets
Pressure wash the exterior of the building
Change furnace and air conditioner filters at least once a month
Replace smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries
Check clothes dryer vents for built-up lint and other debris
Check exhaust vents for all fuel-fired equipment such as the furnace and hot water heater
Check and/or recharge fire extinguishers
Check door knobs, door latches, window locks, and window latches
Vacuum refrigerator and air conditioner coils
Check all electrical outlets for cracked or broken cover plates
Replace lightbulbs in common areas such as stairwells and hallways
Inspect property for trash piled up by tenants
Check all stairs for loose or weak boards
Make sure all railings are tight
Inspect basement or crawlspace for rodents
Inspect washers and dryers if you provide them
Check faucets for drips
Check pipes for leaks