The Do’s and Don’ts of Property Maintenance
Often times it is said that education and experience are key to reducing the learning curve. Well there’s no exception to that with property maintenance. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of property maintenance that can without a doubt, make your experience a much smoother one.
DO: Inspect Property Regularly
This may seem like a very trivial thing to do but you’d be surprised by the number of property managers and landlords that don’t inspect their properties on a regular basis. Not doing so can lead to a lot of expensive and difficult situations. For instance, tenants may not always notify you of the issues they encounter. Whether it’s a leaky drain pipe under the sink or a flickering hallway light, sometimes it’s up to you to catch potential problems before they manifest into larger ones. Doing so can save you time and money.
DO: Resolve Issues As They Are Reported
Deferring maintenance can be a bad decision depending on the issue. For instance, a leaky pipe can result in mold build up, and potentially rotten wood. If left unrepaired, a leaky roof can not only cause additional roof damage but it can also cause interior damage to the unit itself.
REAL WORLD SCENARIO: A tenant once notified a landlord of a small brown spot on ceiling that developed shortly after an episode of rain. However, the landlord decided that it wasn’t an urgent matter. The leaky roof was left unrepaired for nearly a year and there was very little rain throughout this time. However, towards the end of this timeframe, significant amounts of severe rain developed. The roof began to take on this rain that eventually made its way to dripping onto the drywall of the ceiling becoming very noticeable. The tenant notified the landlord again of this issue. However, by the time someone was called to look into the issue, the ceiling had fell to the floor causing significant damage to property and tenant possessions. What was early signs of a small issue quickly grew into something much more serious. If the initial reporting of incident would have been addressed in a timely manner, this could have saved the tenant the inconvenience as well as prevented costly repair.
DO: Choose Quality Maintenance Professionals
Choosing a maintenance person to resolve your repairs is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make throughout the process. Selecting someone because they offer a relatively cheap price doesn’t mean it will translate into a quality repair. I’d recommend vetting three maintenance companies/persons. During the vetting process be sure to verify that they have proper licenses, insurance and experience. If the preliminary information checks out, get a feel for which company you can see yourself doing business with. If you are able to narrow down your search and become torn between 2 or more, go with your gut feeling as it could lead you in the right direction of who to select. Once you’ve chosen a maintenance professional, it is important to have a clear understanding of the expectations. Try to avoid working with anyone that requires a substantial down-payment or to be paid in full. Most reputable companies won’t require a down-payment and will bill you afterwards, depending on the total cost of the job. Once the work is reported complete, it needs to be verified by you before releasing any payment. If possible, request that pictures or video be provided showing project completion along with a detailed resolution on invoice.
DON’T: Let Tenant Negligent Induced Repairs Go Without Holding Them Responsonsible
DON’T: Accept The Tenant’s Description Of the Issue Without Verification
In property management you will find that in some cases the tenant can make issues sound far more serious than they actually are. However, it’s important to ask the right questions in order to fully understand the issue so that you can determine the appropriate action. For instance, a tenant calls and states that their gas operated stove is not working and you trusting their description of the problem, deploy a maintenance person out to the unit to fix the problem only to discover that the tenant just did not know how to operate the stove. Expensive resources were wasted on this which could have been avoided by asking the right questions.
If an issue is reported as an emergency, gather enough information so that you can send out the proper person for the job. If you determine that the issue is a non-emergency, be sure to have a conversation with the tenant to discuss what situations are classified as emergency and non-emergency so that you can help avoid frivolous calls.
DON’T: Accept High-Level Description of Work Completed to Solve Issue
Before releasing payment to any maintenance person, it’s important to have documentation of the issue and the resolution. The resolution should make sense to you considering you may have to refer to it at a later date. Whether it’s regarding a repeat issue, performance tracking or in court matter, it’s vital to have a detailed account of the actions taken during problem resolution. It also gives you an opportunity to explain it clearly to tenant if requested.