Benjamin Franklin one said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This quote can be easily applied to many areas of life, but we think it is especially applicable to rental property maintenance. Owning rental property is a long-term investment, which means you need to pay attention to regular maintenance in order to save money. If you are vigilant about maintenance at your property your home’s systems will last longer and you will be less likely to have an emergency situation. Find out how you can stay on top of regular maintenance tasks at your rental home with our short guide to maintenance below.
What is a Property Owner Responsible For?
Before we discuss how you should approach routine maintenance we need to define what a property owner is responsible for, and what a tenant is responsible for. Incorrect expectations and miscommunication about maintenance issues can lead to tension between tenants and property owners. This is why we work hard to clearly explain a tenant’s responsibilities when they sign their lease.
According to the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook, “residential landlords have a duty to keep a unit in a safe and habitable condition and in good repair.” Generally, landlords are responsible for maintaining the structure of the home including plumbing, electrical, and heating. They are also responsible for ensuring their tenant has safe access to their unit. Tenants are responsible for keeping the home clean and tidy, as well as reporting any maintenance issues to their landlord as soon as possible.
Your Atlanta property manager can help you and your tenant understand how these rules apply to your property specifically, and it is important to know that maintenance responsibilities may change based on lease requirements. For example, some landlords require their tenants to maintain the landscaping while others do not.
During the initial walk-through your tenant should make a note of any maintenance issues that make the home unsafe so the maintenance team can fix them. It is also a good time to explain to your new tenant exactly what they are responsible for, and how certain maintenance tasks should be performed. Tasks such as changing the AC filter may not be intuitive to a tenant who is new to renting a single-family home. Remember that communicating clearly about maintenance upfront will help you avoid tensions and reduce turnover.
Planning for Maintenance
Every home needs maintenance, whether it is a brand new build or a 50 year old home. Carpets wear out, faucets leak, and windows break. If you supply major appliances such as a refrigerator, washer, or dryer, you are responsible for repairing or replacing them. That is why it is important to include rental property maintenance in your yearly budget. How much should you set aside? A good rule of thumb is 1-2 months rent. However, if your home is older you may need to set aside more. Talk to one of our experienced property managers if you are unsure how much money to budget for maintenance issues.
In addition to routine maintenance costs you need to stay up to date with how well your rental home’s systems are working and set money aside for replacing them. With proper maintenance your rental home’s AC system, furnace, and water heater should last 10, 15, or even 20 years. Eventually though, they will need replacement. Typically replacing one of your home’s systems isn’t an emergency. Your AC may stop working one day, but if you are maintaining it properly you will see warning signs long before it kicks the bucket. Take note of these signs, as well as the age of the system, so you can plan for the cost of replacement.
Why Atlanta Property Managers Recommend Property Inspections
Effective maintenance starts with regular property inspections. If you are only inspecting your property at move in and move out you are doing your property and your tenants a disservice. We recommend quarterly or biannual inspections for three reasons:
- Inspections allow you to identify areas that need repairs and plan for future expenses.
- Communication between property managers and tenants is improved.
- Your tenant sees that you are invested in their wellbeing and their home, and are thus more likely to take good care of the home.
Regular property inspections save you money in the long term by identifying problems at your rental home and reducing turnover. For more information on why you should never skip an inspection read our blog post here.
Regular Maintenance By Season
Now that you know why routine maintenance is so important you are probably wondering how to perform routine maintenance tasks. At Specialized Property Management Atlanta we perform inspections nearly every day at the properties we manage across the Atlanta metro area. We recommend performing rental property maintenance quarterly or biannually, and checking specific items based on the season of the year. Even if you choose to inspect less frequently we recommend reminding your tenant of the routine maintenance tasks they should be performing each season. Here is a brief list of the tasks you should do according to season:
- Spring: When the weather begins to warm it is time for spring cleaning. Walk around the outside of the property to make sure freezing temperatures did not damage outdoor pipes or the foundation. Schedule an AC tune-up before the weather gets too hot. Check attics and basements to ensure critters did not make homes there during the colder months.
- Summer: Check that ceiling fans are turned to their summer setting to ensure correct airflow. Remind your tenant what their responsibilities are in regards to landscaping, particularly if they need to water the lawn periodically.
- Fall: Ensure your rental home is ready for colder weather by scheduling routine maintenance for your furnace. Ask your tenant to take note of any windows or doors that are leaking air so your Atlanta property managers can reseal where needed. Yards should be clean of anything that cannot stay out in freezing temperatures.
- Winter: During the holiday season home fires are at their peak. Make sure your tenant is prepared for the worst by checking smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Ask your tenant to alert you if they will be gone for an extended period of time over the holidays.
Some maintenance tasks should be performed regularly, but aren’t based on the season. These include tasks like changing the AC air filter and checking for common safety hazards. For more information on performing a routine inspection visit our post here.
Responding to Maintenance Requests
How quickly do you respond to tenant maintenance requests? Slow response to maintenance issues is one of the top reasons for tenant turnover. When tenants feel their problems are being brushed off they get frustrated and are less likely to re-sign their lease. In addition, the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook states that a landlord is responsible for responding to maintenance requests in a reasonable time, otherwise the tenant can sue for damages. Responding quickly to every rental property maintenance request, no matter how small, will help you avoid tensions and reduce turnover.
Responding in a timely manner to every maintenance request can feel impossible when you self-manage, especially if you own multiple properties, live outside of the Atlanta Metro area, or have a full-time job outside of property management. Maintenance issues don’t wait for you to have the day off. Self-managing your rental property means you must be on call nights, weekends, holidays, and during vacations. That is one reason property owners turn to our team of experts. With Specialized Property Management Atlanta taking care of your property you never have to worry who will answer that middle of the night maintenance call.
At Specialized Property Management Atlanta we make it easy for tenants to report maintenance issues, no matter when they happen. Our online tenant portal is available 24 hours a day for tenants to submit a maintenance request. We also provide an emergency phone number your tenant can call if they need someone right away. Our property managers are always available to address maintenance emergencies, and are quick to respond to requests of any kind.
The Atlanta Property Managers You Can Trust
With nearly 30 years of property management experience we know how tricky it can be for property owners to take care of every aspect of the rental cycle. If you are new to property management, or you are trying to manage your rental while working another full time job, chances are some things will slip through the cracks. Unfortunately when that happens your investment could be put at risk.
Property owners who choose to work with our Specialized team benefit from our experienced professionals and proven processes. We use the latest technology to analyze data from your property, helping you avoid unnecessary costs and make informed decisions. On your online owner portal you can view the latest property updates and inspection reports so you are always informed about what is happening at your property.
You owe it to yourself, your tenants, and your investment to work with the experts at Specialized Property Management Atlanta. Get started today by calling 404-596-8454.