Properly maintaining investment properties has two main benefits:
- Good tenants value the care and consideration, so are more likely to re-sign a lease and stay.
- Well-maintained properties keep their value better, and are less likely to suffer electrical, plumbing, or appliance failure that demand emergency repairs and unexpected costs.
Good maintenance, therefore, has a number of benefits. Keeping everything in good condition takes some simple planning and setting sensible standards. In this article we will walk you through the why, what, and how of the topic.
A Landlord’s Legal Responsibilities
Firstly, every state has legal requirements that landlords must follow. Investment properties must be habitable. Basically, that means the property must meet certain standards for a tenant’s safety and health. As well as state regulations, each municipality may add their own standards, so it pays landlords to know what is required, and to stay on top of making sure their properties meet the standards.
Lease agreements cannot change standards or legal responsibilities, but they can state what the landlord or the tenant will deal with. Will the landlord replace light bulbs, for example, or will the tenant? The important thing is that, in this case, the electrical supply is safe and functional.
Because landlords have legal responsibilities, the lease agreement should:
- Refer to those responsibilities.
- State there will be periodic maintenance inspections. You may inspect quarterly, for example, but generally carry out routine maintenance annually or semi-annually. The inspections should forewarn of possible repairs that are due.
- How much notice the tenant will get before an inspection. Entry into a tenanted property will be governed by local regulations, so it may be a minimum of 24 or 48 hours.
- Who will notify the tenant, and how – email, letter, phone call, etc?
- What will happen if, for good reason, the inspection cannot be performed.
- Outline what will be inspected, how it will be inspected, and by whom. This stops a tenant from objecting to how long an inspection takes or which rooms will be included/excluded for, and who can enter their home to do the inspection.
Property Managers and Professional Inspectors
Some landlords have a total hands-on approach. Others hire a professional property manager and licensed contractors. The advantages of using professionals is that they are experts, they have their routines in place, and will have a good working relationship with licensed and experienced contractors.
Everyone will be used to handling actual and potential problems. On top of everything else, everyone involved will know the standards, rules, and the expected degree of formality and etiquette when going into properties and dealing with tenants.
Routine maintenance is a great way to adhere to legal requirements of habitability and safety, and should keep unexpected repairs to a minimum. By including the details in the lease, it implies both good customer care, and avoids any conflict or misunderstanding. By hiring a property manager, the landlord can leave the hassles to an expert.