A Quick Guide To Maintaining Your Rental Property And Issues To Address Prior To Signing A New Lease…

Perhaps one of the most overwhelming things about owning a rental property is worrying about how you are going to handle routine maintenance and repairs that your property is bound to need. If this is your first time renting out your space or you are seeking a tenant for the last vacant unit in a multi-family space, this article was created to help you.  We hope to help you create the most efficient maintenance schedule and update those checklists so that everything operates smoothly.

Five Important Issues You Should Cover Before A Lease Is Signed

When you make the decision to become a landlord, you want to be sure that you are setting your rent fairly based on the rental market in your area. The guidelines below will help you ensure that you are getting the most out of your rental property while still offering a fair deal to your tenants.

After you’ve established your rental fees and listed your property, you are ready to get down to the nitty gritty. There are five important issues that you should triple check prior to the lease signing.

These include the following: 

#1: Local Building Codes:  As a landlord, it is your responsibility to maintain your property to ensure the safety of all tenants. One of the most essential ways you can feel confident that you are doing so is by adhering to your local building codes. These tend to vary from place to place, so be sure that the codes you are following are current with your city and state.

In general, building and safety codes usually regulate the following:

  • Asbestos
  • Adequate lighting in all common areas
  • Carbon monoxide detectors
  • Electrical wiring
  • Lead-based paint (if the property was built prior to 1978)
  • Maximum number of occupants in each unit
  • Plumbing
  • Safety guards on windows
  • Smoke detectors
  • Structural integrity
  • Toxic mold
  • Use of Fire-Retardant paint

#2: Who Covers Utilities?: It is important that you discuss with prospective tenants who will be responsible for the property’s utilities. As the landlord, if you intend to cover any utility expenses, be sure to check that all your meters are functioning properly and that there are not any leaks anywhere. The smallest leak can end up costing you a fortune. Look to see if your local ordinances include heating and air as the landlord’s responsibility. See who offers fast internet where the property is located, while it is rare that landlord’s cover this expense, it is important to many tenants that it is available to them before they sign their lease agreement.

#3: Trash & Sanitation:  Double-check the trash and sanitations schedule for your rental property before you create your lease. Is it consistent and on time? What do you expect tenants to do with their trash weekly? By including these details in your interviews with prospective tenants and noting it on your lease agreement, you can help guarantee that they are going to take care of their own trash and sanitation appropriately once the ink dries.
#4: Common Areas:  If you own a multi-family unit, you probably have a few common areas on site. Be sure that these spaces are well maintained and ready for tenants to use. If you offer on-site laundry instead of in-unit, you will need to routinely check that the machines are working properly. Other amenities like a pool, playground, or gym will also require frequent maintenance so that they are clean and readily available for your tenants to enjoy. Checking these areas yourself or hiring a property manager to do so often is ideal for the longevity of the spaces.
#5: Security:  One of the biggest selling points for prospective tenants is security. Be sure that your system is current and functioning before you decide to rent a property. Are all the cameras recording around the clock? Do the doors on the unit lock and close with ease? If you offer security beyond what is expected by most, include this in your listing. It is sure to attract more tenants.

Your Maintenance Checklist 

Routine maintenance consumes a large portion of your responsibilities as a landlord throughout the duration of your tenant’s lease. Required maintenance can vary in different states; so, take the time to review local laws to see what is expected of you. Typically, landlords are in charge of making sure that a tenant’s needs are met while living in their rental home. Being able to anticipate your tenant’s needs includes routine maintenance that is scheduled in advance, as well as making any necessary repairs as they occur.

To effectively maintain your property, complete this checklist every six months for all of your properties and units.

  • Building Maintenance:  If you aren’t able to check on the property often or don’t live close to it, you should not go more than six months without conducting an in-person inspection. You should consider doing this monthly, however it can be difficult to do so if you aren’t close to your rental. During your check, ensure that common areas are cleaned, laundry units are all working properly, security is functioning as it should, your lawn and landscapes are maintained, and there aren’t any leaks or weak areas on your roofs or issues with your gutters.
  • Efficiency Matters:  Review your monthly utility bills. Compare your current months with the same month from the previous year. This is the best way to see if your HVAC units are working as they should and that there aren’t any other efficiency issues. This can be increasingly important to you if you are including utilities in your tenant’s rent.
  • Replace Air Filters:  They may not be in desperate need of being replaced but will help keep your HVAC system working well and as efficient as it possibly can.
  • Replace Batteries: Be sure to replace the batteries in all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. This is very important.
  • Talk with your Tenants:  You don’t have to schedule a formal meeting but do take the time to check in with your tenants to make sure that everything is going well for them. You can do this in person or over the phone. They are more likely to be aware of any recurring issues that you might overlook in a monthly/bi-annual inspection.
  • Keep Up with Seasonal Needs:  Make sure that you address any seasonal needs which can vary based upon the climate where the property is located. If it is somewhere that gets a decent amount of snowfall and ice in the winter, you might need to consider winterizing the property and getting a back-up generator.

Tackling this maintenance checklist regularly will help ensure that small problems don’t become bigger issues that can be more costly down the road.

As You Build Your Real Estate Portfolio…

When you have been a landlord for years, you begin to form a network of local vendors that you are able to trust when you are away. You could keep a list of all their information to pass along to your property manager.

If investment properties become something that you can see yourself owning more of, you could look into adding more to your profile. Whether it be by investing in more properties, adding multi-family units to your portfolio, or even flipping houses — there are plenty of options.

If you are a landlord that wants to take on more investments without carrying the weight of the day-to-day maintenance, consider hiring a property manager. This is a great way to invest without as much stress.

Property management companies can be on call, so you aren’t. They also come with a contact list of vendors that often offer higher quality service at a more affordable cost which is ideal when it comes to tackling routine maintenance. A property manager will be able to handle tenant turnover while ensuring that you are in compliance with your local statutes.

By teaming up with a property management company, you won’t have to stress over the day-to-day management that comes with being a landlord. This will make expanding your portfolio much easier while you still get to live your life.

Contact us (866-500-6200) for more information today!

About Real Property Management Midwest

We are local property management experts serving Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, & Louisville. We manage Single-Family Homes, Apartment Buildings, and Condos. With years of experience, Real Property Management is Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Louisville and Northern Kentucky’s #1 Property Management and Leasing Company.