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Preventative Maintenance Tips for Landlords

3/26/19 11:11 AM / by BB French

BB French

Preventative maintenance is an important Property Management function that gets ignored far too often.  Preventing maintenance calls is a cost effective way to preserve the condition of your property and keep your tenants happy. 

Our property management division makes preventative maintenance priority, both at turn over and during the annual property inspection.  This articles discusses our standard preventative maintenance done at each property turn over.   All of this is done with one goal: Reduce Maintenance Calls

 

Preventative Maintenance Tips for Landlords by BB French

Consider Including these tasks in your own Preventative Maintenance Routine

 

Why Reducing Maintenance Calls Matters
 
Reduces Costs

I have heard my checklist is overkill, that I am wasting time and money fixing problems that aren't present.  I respectfully disagree with this. 

First of all, I'm saving money over the long term.  Yes, perhaps I am spending an extra $100 at Turn Over on minor issues, but I prevented $300 worth of maintenance calls later.   

Let's use snaking the drains as an example.  Snaking all 3 drains takes what, 20 minutes total? 5 minutes per drain, plus clean up time.  Because each task is being performed  in conjunction with all the other items happening at turn over, each task is not itemized.   

Compare this to sending maintenance to clear a clogged drain in an occupied unit.  The tub drain is clogged with soap & hair debris, this is going to be AT LEAST a 1 hour call; Depending on the location of the property, maybe 2 hours accounting for travel time.   You just paid 1.5 hours to clear 1 drain.  I cleared 3 drains in 20 minutes. 

Happier Tenants

Tenants are happier when they don't have to make maintenance calls.    Using the example above, the tenant experienced a backed up bathtub, he/she likely lived with it for a day or two, then got around to submitting the maintenance request.  Now assume at least another day to have the drain cleared, so your tenant had a backed up drain for 2-3 days.

This is by no means a tragedy, but coupled with 1 or 2 other issues that could have been prevented, this is missed opportunity to perform. 

Proper Maintenance

Using the bathtub drain issue again, how likely is it that the tenant would go ahead and dump a bottle of Draino down that drain?  Highly likely.

As all Landlords know, Draino is bad for your plumbing and is a bandaid fix, this will only lead to an even higher bill when you have to call out a professional rooter company to clear the drain. 

Preventative Maintenance at Turn Over

Landlords are very concerned with reducing vacancy time, and rightly so, however, taking a few extra hours to perform the standard preventative checklist has proven to reduce costs and vacancy loss.

We've learned over the years some of the most common calls we get, so we've built our turn over checklist to prevent them before the tenant moves in.

Below is the actual list our Maintenance Team uses at turn over in addition to other Turn Over tasks:

  • Drains

Snake every drain in the property, even if it's currently draining fine.  Most companies will test the drains, we skip the test & just snake each drain to clear it of hair, soap, or any other debris that may have ended up down the drain.  

This prevents future clogs & reduces the clogged drain calls. 

  • Scrape & Caulk

Scrape & re-caulk all windows, sliders, the bathroom sink, the kitchen sink, your tub, and shower enclosure. Scrape all the old caulking off, then clean and dry the area & re-caulk. This effort will make everything look better, cleaner, and prevent leaks. hammer and screw driver.png 

  • Weather Stripping & Door Sweeps

Install or replace weather stripping on all exterior doors of the property or unit. Likewise, make sure all door sweeps are in good working order. These two tasks will reduce noise for multi-family properties and keep all units warmer in the winter with lower energy bills for tenants or you. 

  • Service Heaters, Fans & Vents

At turn over, our crew takes the time to clean and oil every heater and fan in the property as well as clean out the dryer and hood vents.  This task reduces the noise made by these fixtures, prolongs their lifespan, and ensures proper working order.  A broken bath fan may or may not get called in by your tenant,  but we know that running fans helps keep moisture and mold down.  These actions help your tenants prevent long term problems as well. 

  • Shelving & Hinges

Outgoing tenants typically want to get as much money back from their deposit as possible, more than once they've attempted to "fix" broken shelves.  When you look at the shelf or even shake it for a test, it seems just fine. But, despite best intentions or efforts, its possible that when the new tenants hang their clothes, coats, and stack boxes on the shelves, the weight rips the shelving down, creating a bigger issue than before!  We've learned this the hard way more than once.  bookshelves.png

Tug on the closet shelves and hanger with great force, really testing the ability to hold weight. When in doubt, re-hang the shelf or add an additional securing bracket. 

Similar to the closet shelves and hanger, kitchen cabinet and bathroom vanity hinges should be checked.  These hinges can come loose and break;  If a hinge rips out and the door falls, it could hurt your tenant or break the cabinet, increasing the costs and giving your tenant a reason to call.  Shake and tug on each cabinet door and if a hinge is loose at all, tighten it up or replace it completely to prevent the costly and potentially dangerous situation. 

  • Tighten Plumbing Fixtures

Go through all plumbing fixtures and ensure they are securely fastened. This includes the toilets, every faucet, shower head & bath tub faucet and P-Traps. Commonly, when maintenance tightens each faucet, at least one will crack, thereby finding the one that was about to break!  

  • Prevent Water Damage with Linoleum

Install protective linoleum under every sink. If a leak does occur during tenancy, even a slow drip, the water can erode your cabinetry and potentially flooring below. The linoleum will give your tenants the opportunity to notice the leak, inform you and your ability to respond in time to fix the leak and protect your property.  

  • Light Fixtures & Bulbs
lamps for your home.png

Test each light fixture to ensure it is properly working, secured to the ceiling or wall and has the appropriate light bulb installed.  On occasion, tenants will replace light bulbs with the wrong type or mismatched bulbs, making your showings less appealing & causing a potential fire hazard. 

  • Appliances

Test each appliance to ensure it's working properly.  This includes running the dishwasher to ensure no leaks, proper draining and attachments.  Check the oven, bulb and that each burner is functioning. Double check the refrigerator light, the temperature levels in both the refrigerator and the freezer; Look underneath for leaks. Finally, test the range hood and or microwave, test the bulbs and fan for functionality. 

  • Mold Prevention

We take extra precautions around windows by scraping, cleaning, applying Killz Primer and re-sealing the windows. This ensures we dry out and kill any living mold spores there, preventing  or at least slowing down their growth.

  • Safety Checks

Last but certainly not least are all the safety checks for the property. We change all door locks, ensure that all windows and doors lock and are easy to unlocked and opened.  Double check batteries on smoke and CO2 detectors and finally replace fire extinguishers as appropriate. 

Conclusion 

The goal of the Preventive Maintenance Checklist is to prevent common problems to reduce costs, maintenance calls, and maintain happier, longer term tenants. These tasks are done in conjunction with any other turn over tasks or projects and really make a difference at property showings.  


Learn More about Fresh Look's Property Management Service Here

Top Rated Property Management in Seattle Bellevue Lynnwood Edmonds



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Topics: Landlord Resources

BB French

Written by BB French

Good property management is hard to find. I have 8+ years experience managing residential properties, portfolios ranging from 1 to 65 units. Driving revenues while keeping expenses minimal occurs with proper systems, communication protocol, and superior customer service in place.