Owning a rental property can be like a part-time job if you’re managing it yourself. There’s rent to collect, vacancies to fill, rental applicants to screen along with repairs and maintenance to be done. Rental real estate is not a totally passive investment if you’re the landlord.
Sometimes, rental owners create more work for themselves by not adequately maintaining the property and communicating with tenants. Small projects can turn into big ones if problems are ignored. Since big projects cost more time and money, it’s vital to stay on top of maintaining a property. An experienced property manager provides services to meet the needs of both rental owners and tenants.
Here are five property maintenance mistakes landlords often make.
They Are Not Proactive
Any type of property requires some level of preventative maintenance. Proper ongoing care for HVAC systems, drains, roofs, gutters, and sealed surfaces can often prevent emergencies down the road. And regularly scheduled maintenance is usually much less stressful and less expensive than an emergency. Some loose shingles, a roof leak, or drainage problems caught in time can prevent extensive water damage to parts of the building.
Keeping a calendar to track dates of routine maintenance is useful and is what most professional property management companies do. A good property manager, for example, will schedule regular maintenance around the seasons and keep up with year-round responsibilities.
They Don’t Inspect the Property Enough
It’s easy to realize when your own home needs repair or maintenance because you live there. You can see it. But the only way to know for sure that a rental property is in good shape is to inspect it from time to time.
That could mean just the occasional “drive-by,” which will allow you to spot any glaring problems with the exterior. However, it’s also important to get inside for occasional inspections to check windows, mechanical systems, plumbing, and to look for any apparent damage. You can’t fix issues that you don’t see. Many property managers will typically schedule two property inspections a year, although this depends on the type of rental and the size of the building.
They Don’t Know Local Codes
A rental property that doesn’t meet local building codes can become a huge problem. If the rental owner isn’t familiar with the local codes, it’s difficult to ensure that the property is up to snuff. This can happen when a landlord hasn’t owned a property in the area before. Hiring a local professional management company that knows the local codes and requirements can help.
If you own a rental property in Campbell CA, for example, a company that does property management in Campbell would be very familiar with the local building codes. Landlords managing the properties themselves must become familiar, too, or run the risks that come with non-compliance.
They Don’t Communicate Well with Tenants
When you’re not physically at the property all the time, it’s impossible to always know what work is needed. What’s necessary, then, is an open line of communication with the people who are there all the time: your tenants.
Occasionally reaching out to speak to your tenants can go a long way. Not only can you ask them directly about the condition of the property, but it also lets them know there’s an open line of communication. You’ll have an opportunity to express to them that you want to know as soon as they spot a potential problem.
They Don’t Have a Strong Lease
One of the most surefire ways to communicate expectations to tenants is in the lease they sign. A strong lease should include clear guidelines for any maintenance the tenants are responsible for as well as provide instructions for alerting you to any issues with the property that they notice.
A lease is a legal instrument, so it can be important to use one that’s been professionally drafted. Legalities of the lease can vary between cities and municipalities. In San Jose CA, for example, a San Jose property manager would follow the local legal guidelines while clearly laying out in the terms of the lease what a tenant’s responsibilities are.
Valley Management Group provides trustworthy and affordable property management services to owners with rental properties in Santa Clara County. If you’re looking for a property manager in San Jose or elsewhere in Santa Clara County contact us to get a free property management quote and one free month of services when you sign up
Reviewed and Approved by Lloyd Kipp
Property Manager and Owner of Valley Management Group