8 Rental Property Maintenance Tips For Landlords

rental property maintenance tips

Rental Property Maintenance: Help and Advice For Landlords

Whether you are a first time landlord or an experienced property manager, it is important to be proactive when dealing with maintenance issues at your rental property. Unfortunately, repairs seem to happen at the most inopportune moments. However, there are steps landlords and apartment managers can take in advance to minimize the damages, or even to prevent them from happening in the first place. Ongoing, regular property maintenance and apartment inspections can help landlords prepare for upcoming maintenance work and hire handymen and maintenance service professionals to deal with small issues before they become large problems. If you are a landlord or rental property owner, consider the following property maintenance tips and advice to help protect your investment property from unnecessary damage and repairs:

1. Regular Grounds Inspection

When assessing your property’s condition, make sure to take time to thoroughly inspect the exterior and grounds at regular intervals, such as every quarter, or at the changing of each season. Learn more about Rental Property Maintenance: Exterior Inspections .

If you notice anything out of the ordinary during your regular inspection, it may require a further inspection or getting expert advice from a maintenance professional.

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2. Inspections

You will also need to inspect the inside of your property for maintenance needs on a regular basis. Probably the most convenient time to do this is when you have a tenant moving in or moving out. In some cases, if you are a new or first time landlord or recently purchased the property, this may be your first chance to inspect the interior of a particular unit. Even if your tenant is renewing his or her lease for another year, you should still schedule regular annual inspections. Read our apartment inspection guide here.

rental property maintenance inspection

If you identify any maintenance problems, definitely consider dealing with them as soon as possible. If you are unable to make the repairs yourself as the landlord, enlist the help and advice of your on site resident manager, or if you don’t have one, a trustworthy handyman. There are many specialize in apartment and rental property maintenance services who have experience with the many issues that landlords regularly face.

3. Communication

Communicate with your tenants. You can reach out regularly to your tenants to let you know of any small issues before they become larger problems. If you don’t want to inundate your tenants with too many messages, simple, regular reminders might be all you need.

You can also create an easy notification process for tenants to notify you of problems or to request repairs. This can be a form you give to each of them to send to you, an email with a specific subject line or a text message in a particular format that gets your attention. There are also several online tenant management software solutions that have built-in landlord-tenant messaging systems or maintenance ticket submission forms.

Buildium offers a mobile app that makes it easy to create and file an inspection report while “in the field”. All you need to perform an inspection is your phone or tablet. Sign up for a free trial.

4. Landscaping

As discussed earlier, many property maintenance issues occur outside your apartment or investment property. If you do regular landscaping at your property, it is important you regularly clear leaves and debris, walkways, and anywhere water might drain or collect. Make sure your landlscaping contractor or gardener communicate with you regularly. If they see anything unusual or potentially harmful to the property, they should notify you immediately with a description of the problem, along with photos.

5. Resident Manager or Property Assistant

If you own a larger apartment building, you may want to consider hiring a part-time on site apartment manager or assistant. The duties of the manager or assistant could include:

  • regular grounds inspection, litter pickup and/or cleaning;
  • communication with other tenants regarding issues and repairs;
  • first responder to any maintenance emergencies
  • quick, simple repairs, ie. clogged toilets or leaky faucets, if they have the ability;
  • prompt notification and description of problems;
  • covering hose bibbs in winter to prevent pipes from freezing

This assistant can be full time or part time, depending on the size of your property. If they are a resident, they can be compensated with a reduction in rent, or some other method both parties agree to.

6. Do It Yourself

Many property owners have already have a variety of maintenance or repair skills. You may possess the knowledge, skill and tools to build a fence, or paint a bedroom, for example. There are several trade-offs to doing DIY maintenance, however. Read our DIY vs. Handyman article to determine if you should do the maintenance yourself. Also consider preparing some maintenance tips for renters, so that they know what to do when a circuit breaker pops or garbage disposal freezes, for example.

7. Landlord Gurus Takeaway

Many of our most important rental property management tips boil down to paying careful attention to what is going on at your rental properties, and being proactive about maintenance so that problems can be avoided or be less severe. Having systems in place to routinely check in on your properties, and having the resources in place to handle any issues smoothly, is the most important tip we have for managing maintenance at your rentals. Clear communication, and established expectations, with tenants is another maintenance tip. And then, of course, there is the matter of making sure you have enough money on hand to handle the inevitable problems that go along with rental property maintenance. We have lots of content on upkeep and repairs, and encourage you to browse our articles under our “Maintenance” category.

8. The Importance of a Handyman Relationship

On of our key property management tips for landlords is to find a good handyman. For those of us who are unable to do all the maintenance work on our property by ourselves, finding a good, trustworthy, and reliable handyman (or two) can make all the difference in the world between frustration and relief.

If you can create a trusting relationship your handyman and show that you will give him or her the opportunity to do the work, a good contractor will value the relationship. In turn, it will become easier to contact them and get better responsiveness and service. You may also see reduced costs as the handyman becomes familiar with the property. As this relationship builds, you know you can trust the handyman to charge a reasonable price and prioritize your work. While maintenance issues will never become enjoyable, having a handyman you can count on will at least make it somewhat palatable.

9. Reserve Account

Finally, if you own investment property there will inevitably be maintenance issues and costs. While the above steps can help landlords prepare for and reduce major issues from rearing their ugly head, there will be unexpected maintenance work that must be taken care of. To not get caught off guard, it is recommended that landlords maintain a reserve account to be specifically used for maintenance and capital projects. Rather than spending the entirety of your monthly rental income, it would be wise budget a set amount each month to set aside in your reserve account. If you have prior years’ data, you can estimate how much you need to set aside for maintenance every month. One common rule is about 1% of the property value each year. So for a $480,000 property, save $4800 per year, or $400 per month for property maintenance.

Remember this is just a rough guess. Your actual expenses will likely vary from year to year. However, if you are prepared to handle these when they do come up, you can rest easy knowing it won’t break the bank.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

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About Chris Lee

Chris Lee, Co-Founder, Landlord Gurus

Chris comes from a family of real estate investors, and remembers well his childhood of helping to clean and paint apartments between renters.

Chris is a licensed real estate broker and now manages a mix of his own property and others for family, consisting of single family homes, multi-family complexes, and the occasional condo unit in and around Seattle. He also has particular insight into the issues around short-term rentals as he has managed those for himself and for other owners on AirBnb, VRBO, and other platforms.

Prior to Landlord Gurus, Chris worked in website development and digital marketing, assisting firms across a wide range of industries. He, along with his wife and two kids, also found themselves living and working overseas for several years.

Upon his return to the US, Chris often turned to Eli for property management advice and help with property maintenance. At this point, the two decided to start Landlord Gurus to help the countless others searching for answers to similar problems.

In his free time, Chris enjoys outdoor sports and activities including baseball, skiing, golf, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.

- BA, Economics - Whitman College
- MA, Pacific International Affairs - University of California, San Diego
- MPA, Public Accounting - Open University of Hong Kong

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1 thought on “8 Rental Property Maintenance Tips For Landlords

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