Rental Property Maintenance

Preventative Property Maintenance

Basic logic will tell you that regular and routine maintenance far outweighs being forced to perform that one major repair that could have been prevented – or at least for which you could have been prepared for months ago. Simple preventative maintenance is often the tenant’s responsibility. However, a little extra effort on your part may ensure that it is actually done and not neglected. When it comes to the small stuff, it doesn’t matter how much it’s addressed in your lease agreement, you may just want to take care of it yourself to avoid any unnecessary headaches. After all, spending a little now will usually save you a lot later!

One of the best examples is the routine changing of air conditioning filters. Air filters, as you already know, are usually found in the ceiling or high on the walls and filter out impurities in the air – thereby clogging up after so many months. If the tenant should fail to replace them every three to six months, this could easily lead to major problems for you months or even years later, that may cost you thousands prematurely – and completely unnecessarily.

Air filter replacement needs only to be performed four times a year (at best!) and will cost you about $10 for each filter. The best part is that the entire air conditioning system won’t freeze up, saving you an unwanted, needless repair bill. Furthermore, the longevity of the air conditioning unit isn’t further compromised because it isn’t overworking – and – your tenant’s electricity bill will even be significantly lower, to boot!

(Another benefit to performing such effortless maintenance is that this gives you an excuse to inspect the property for any potential lease violations in the process…)

In addition to performing routine inspection and maintenance yourself, there is always the option of establishing a “service contract” with a local contractor or handyman service – just be careful of these companies – some have so many exceptions written into their agreements, there is no benefit in signing a long term contract. In other words, make sure you are protected from the big ticketed items – small problems are usually self manageable, unless you reside out of town or simply have no desire to perform any maintenance work.

In either case, here is a basic list of preventative maintenance issues you want to consider throughout the year:

Spring/Summer

Exterior
• Examine and repair caulking of the windows, stucco, and trim (to prevent water, dust, dirt and insects from entering the dwelling)
• Examine paint on siding, trim, and doors (paint is essential for protection and appearance)
• Clean and remove debris from gutters
• Examine roof for loose, cracked, or missing shingles/tiles. Repair and replace as necessary
• Trim trees and shrubs away from home, including roof

Interior
• Examine and repair any caulking at the windows – for weatherization and insect control
• Close the chimney damper to keep cool air conditioning inside the dwelling
• Examine and repair/replace (if needed) weather stripping on exterior doors and windows – reduce energy costs
• Examine and repair bath tile grouting (if needed) to prevent moisture damage
• Lubricate and adjust locks, hinges and latches
• Examine window locks for proper operation and repair as needed
• Adjust registers (balance flow) for cooling and heating
• Lubricate garage door roller shafts (not tracks) and tighten bolts
• Examine cabinets, drawers, and hinges for proper alignment – tighten and adjust as necessary
• Clean dryer vent duct and damper to remove any lint or obstructions
• Have your air conditioning or heat pump, and/or evaporative cooler cleaned and serviced by a qualified technician
• Replace air conditioning or heat pump filters
• Drain and flush out hot water tank

Fall/Winter

Exterior
• Clean and remove debris from gutters
• Check outside faucets and hoses for leaks
• Reseed the lawn for green grass all winter long
• Inspect and repair caulking of windows, siding, trim and other exterior areas, as needed
• Rinse off AC compressor/condensing unit coil to remove dirt and plant debris
• Drain and clean evaporative cooler for the winter and make ready for spring service

Interior
• Turn on the furnace to make sure it is in proper working order. Have serviced by a qualified technician
• Inspect and repair caulking in sinks, tubs, showers, thresholds, walls, windows, and other interior areas, as needed
• Check the fireplace. Open the damper of the chimney before first use
• Replace air conditioning or heat pump filters