Inspecting your property and responding to maintenance requests are both important parts of owning rental property. When you have specific process in place to address these things, it will be easier for you to document what happens and take care of problems or issues in a timely manner.
Inspect the inside of your rental property once or twice a year. You don't want to be there so often that you're disrupting your tenants and invading their privacy. Always provide at least 24 hours of notice and let your tenants know you just want to make sure that everything is working properly and in good shape. Look for liability and habitability issues, such as loose handrails on the stairs, broken window locks or smoke detectors that aren't functioning. Take a checklist with you so you can remember to look for specific things.
Training Maintenance Vendors
You can get an informal report on how the property looks from any maintenance vendors who go over to the property to make repairs. Ask them to check for things like leaking pipes under the sink and debris on the roof or in the gutters.
Drive by Inspections
We recommend that you drive past the property at least once a month. This is not disruptive to the tenant, who will likely not even realize you are there. It gives you the opportunity to make sure everything looks okay from the outside. If you notice dogs running around and you haven't authorized pets, you'll know to contact the tenants. When something looks off from the exterior, you can schedule an interior inspection to really understand what's happening.
When a tenant calls with a repair request, make sure you respond to it in a timely manner. Troubleshoot the issue over the phone if you can. There's no need to call out a maintenance professional if the problem can be easily identified and fixed. Make sure you have the right resources in place to handle any repair needs that come up. You'll need a list of reliable vendors who are prepared to help you and you'll need a budget or a reserve account to ensure you're financially able to make repairs as they come up.
Remember that any maintenance issues due to tenant behavior or damage should be their responsibility. If your tenant's toddler flushes all his socks down your toilet, your tenant must be responsible for the plumbing bill.
When you're managing your maintenance responsibilities, keep your eye on short term needs and long term priorities. Sometimes it's more cost effective to replace something than to repair it.
If you have any questions about inspections or maintenance, please contact us at Zell Associates, Inc.