If conducted properly, preventative maintenance can actually save you a lot of money. Being a property manager, I consider there to be two different types of maintenance in a rental property: reactive maintenance and preventative maintenance.
Reactive Maintenance vs. Preventative Maintenance
Reactive maintenance is when you’re responding to something that has been brought to your attention. Perhaps the tenant has let you know that something is wrong with the property. At that point, you are reacting to the issue. Preventative maintenance is something you notice before it becomes a problem. You can correct it and save a lot of money in the long run.
Types of Preventative Maintenance
We’ve got six examples to give you an idea of what to look for in preventative maintenance issues.
The proper placement of door stops is important. These cost $2. If you place them properly, you’ll eliminate the door handle from touching any other surface. If the door handle slams against the wall, it will eventually make a hole where the door handle makes contact. That means you’ll need to patch the drywall. So, the $2 door stop makes financial sense and protects your walls.
Proper caulking around tubs, showers, vanities, kitchen tops, and sinks can go a long way. The caulk isn’t expensive. Make sure everything is caulked properly. If we don’t caulk the tub properly, the floor can become spongy and we’ll have to replace the subfloor. Just spending a few dollars on the caulk can prevent that expensive repair. It’s a better fix.
Any heating and cooling professional will tell you that one of the key items to the life expectancy of a heating and cooling unit is proper replacement of furnace filters. Make sure you’re replacing them and your maintenance staff is checking them. If your tenant has this responsibility, make sure you note when they should do that, whether it’s every month or every three months. You might even consider supplying a box of filters for the tenant. Ask them to change the filter every time they pay the rent. That sets a good reminder. A box of filters is cheaper than one service call to have a technician go out and tell you the furnace filters need to be replaced. It’s a small cost up front, but it saves you a lot in the long run.
Make sure your gutters are properly attached to the home. We see a lot of gutters that come away from the home. A simple re-attach will save you from replacing that whole piece of gutter. Once a gutter hits the ground, the aluminum will bend and flex so it cannot go back onto the home. That will require an expensive replacement. So, make sure your gutters are attached.
Address any plumbing leak as soon as you find them. Here, we have a process to determine if there are any plumbing leaks at the property. As landlords, we often go to a property when the tenant says there’s a leak. Once you’re there, you’ll notice the entire bottom of the sink has begun rotting. So, it’s obviously been leaking for months. Check for and correct those issues right away.
The lease should dictate how the landscaping is to be maintained. If the tenants need to cut the grass, make sure it’s being done. Inspect the bushes, hedges, and other vegetation. There are city codes that a tenant has to follow. If they cannot, you have to take care of it. Just do it before it becomes a bigger issue than simply cutting the grass.
Preventative Maintenance Methods
At Complete Landlord Solutions, we have four methods of preventative maintenance.
Call Awareness When we go over for a reactive call, we also look for preventative issues that may come up. Maybe there’s a chirping smoke detector. That’s a safety issue, so we’ll make sure the battery is replaced. Our maintenance personnel are trained to look for key preventative items.
Spring and Fall Inspections
We do an exterior inspection of the home every spring and fall. During these inspections, we’re looking at the gutters and the roof, as well as the windows, siding, and landscaping. We’re looking for anything that needs to be corrected.
Move-in inspections are important. Conduct as much of your maintenance as you can before a tenant moves in. Try to set yourself up for success from the beginning and look for preventative items.
Any time a tenant renews a lease, we go to the property and do an inspection. We’ll look for preventative maintenance items that we can address up front. It’s way less costly than waiting for something to get worse.
If you have any questions about rental home maintenance or property management in Terre Haute, please make sure you contact us at Complete Landlord Solutions.
Tenants preparing to sign a lease need to understand they are committing to a legal and binding contract. It’s important to read and understand your rental lease agreement before you sign it. Any questions or concerns should be addressed with the property owner, landlord, or management company.
What Does a Lease Agreement Look Like?
A lease agreement is comprehensive, but there are 10 key points that are particularly important. If you’re a landlord, you will likely agree that these 10 components bring in the most commonly asked questions from tenants. Answering them up front will create a smoother relationship between landlords and tenants.
Start and End Date
It’s important to know when you’re moving in. The move-in date is the day you’re legally obligated to take over rent payments. You also need to know how long you are bound to rent the property. Make sure you know your end date so you can prepare to move out or renew your lease.
Every rental agreement should include the property address. You need to know which property you’re renting, so make sure correct address is on the lease. Rental Amount The amount of rent has to be correct and what you agreed to with the landlord. If the contract reflects a total amount due for the entire lease, make sure the math adds up for the 12 months. If you moved in during the middle of the month and prorated your rent, make sure those numbers add up as well.
Late Fee Policy
The lease must reflect when the tenant gets charged a late fee. It should explain whether this is a daily late fee, a one-time late fee, or both. Security Deposit The security deposit amount must be in the lease, and your landlord should acknowledge its receipt. You’ll also want to see a process for getting your security deposit back. In Indiana, a landlord has 45 days from the time a tenant vacates to return the security and a letter explaining why any money was withheld.
What maintenance items are you, the tenant, responsible for? At Complete Landlord Solutions, our lease indicates that tenants are responsible for changing light bulbs and replacing furnace filters every three months. The lease should also explain what a landlord is responsible for. This keeps everyone on the same page.
Your lease will explain whether or not you’re allowed to have pets. If you can have them, you’ll need to know what the pet fee or pet deposit will be. There might be an increase in your monthly rent a well.
As a tenant, you will be responsible for paying utilities. Your lease will tell you which ones. If the rental advertisement said you were only responsible for paying the electric bill, make sure the lease says the same thing. If there’s any confusion, ask about it.
Lease Renewals and Vacating
Your lease will tell you what happens at the end of the lease term. You may want to move elsewhere or you may want to renew. If there’s a move-out inspection, you’ll need a checklist or a document from your landlord that tells you what’s expected at move-out. Every landlord wants to give tenants their full deposit back, so do everything you can on that checklist before you move out.
The final category is all the other details that you need to read. Please read your lease in full. Lots of tenants skim the pages, but there are so many terms and conditions that you have to understand. Take some time to read it and ask questions.
It’s best to do this right up front. Figure out what you’re obligated to, what your restrictions are, and what you should or should not be doing. You want to find these things out before signing, and not in the middle of your lease term.
Recently at Complete Landlord Solutions, one of our tenants had a garage fire. Luckily, the owner of the property was covered through insurance and the tenant was as well. We require all our tenants to obtain and hold insurance throughout the term of the lease. Today, we’re sharing four good reasons to have renter’s insurance.
Why Get Renter’s Insurance: It’s Affordable
Renter’s insurance is extremely affordable. The national average is around $187 a year for a policy, and that comes out to less than $16 per month. There’s no reason not to have it. The coverage is cheap and worth every penny.
What Does Renter’s Insurance Cover?
Renter’s insurance covers all loss of personal property. If there’s a fire, or a lightning strike that takes out a television or a computer, or a rain storm that causes a roof leak, your personal property is covered. Whether you suffer a loss due to snow, ice, theft, or vandalism, your damage is covered. A renter’s insurance policy will cover all your personal possessions.
We do require renter’s insurance, and many landlords and property managers will need tenants to have it before moving in. Proof of rental insurance could be a requirement of the lease. As landlords and owners, we will hold insurance that only covers the building. That insurance does not cover a tenant’s personal possessions in the property. If you don’t have renter’s insurance and there’s a leak that damages your electronics, the owner will cover the structure, but not your property. Rental insurance does cover it. If you’re a landlord looking for a property management company, it’s a good idea to ask if they require tenants to have this policy in place.
How Does Renter’s Insurance Work for Liability?
A renter’s insurance policy also provides liability coverage. If someone is injured in your home, that will be covered under your policy. It can also help cover tenants for any damage they might cause. For example, if there’s a fire that the tenant caused, the renter’s insurance will cover it.
All these points are good things to discuss with an insurance agent. Renter’s insurance is cheap and highly protective towards tenants. It’s a great thing to have. So, if you’re a tenant looking for a rental, talk to an insurance agent even if your landlord doesn’t require it.
Complete Landlord Solutions is a full service property management company in Terre Haute, Indiana. If you are a property owner wondering how to hire a property manager, there are a few key questions to ask while you’re interviewing potential managers. Here is some insight on how I would structure an interview. This should set you up to be successful in getting the right property manager and having your questions answered when you’re deciding who to hire.
Ask if the manager is licensed to practice property management. You can verify this online through the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. If you’re talking to someone who is not licensed, you can end the conversation. You need to entrust your property or properties to someone licensed to provide this service.
Marketing and Screening
You’ll need to know how they determine rental rates, and if they do a market analysis. Ask if the management company has other properties similar to yours that are currently rented out. They can show you comparables so you’ll know what your property could rent for. Ask about the tools they use for marketing and advertising. Find out if they perform credit, criminal and eviction history checks. What are the minimum requirements to be approved for a property?
Repairs and Maintenance
Do they provide in-house maintenance or third party vendors or a combination? Ask about the cost of maintenance, and if you’ll have to pay extra for markups on materials and services. You need to know about their emergency repair plans, and if someone is available 24 hours a day. Find out if there is an additional cost when repairs are needed over the weekend or during holidays.
Eviction and Debt Collection
How do the managers handle debt or delinquent rent? You should ask how they communicate with tenants and get rent paid. If a tenant is behind, you’ll want to know at what point is eviction is filed. Talk about the process and what your costs will be if there’s an eviction. Ask if the management company works with collection attorneys when tenants leave owing a balance, or if this is handled in the office.
Financial Bookkeeping and Online Systems
Property management companies need a financial bookkeeping tool like Appfolio, Buildium, or QuickBooks. Find out what they use and how your financials are tracked. You’ll also want to know if you have access to the information. Is there an owner’s portal, which is like a bank account where you can check what’s happening with your property? You’ll be able to see if a tenant has paid rent or if there are maintenance invoices outstanding. Ask if the tenant has access to the system for requesting maintenance or paying rent. You’ll also need to know what kind of reporting is provided. Is it on demand, filtered, or on a monthly and quarterly basis? Maybe you’ll be able to look at specific weeks within the year. Be sure you’re in touch with what’s going on with your property. On demand reporting is a great tool.
Communication is a big area and key in any relationship. Ask about response time when you contact them via email or text or phone. You want to know how your questions will be answered and your problems handled. See if they have a sense of pride in communication and delivering up on a solid process.
Is there a written contract, and can you see a copy to review it? Maybe you can review it with any other of their corporate documents. Take a look at everything and ask any questions after reviewing the contract. Find out what the length of the contract is – monthly or a year? Is there a 30 day opt out notice? Know the requirements if the relationship doesn’t work; you need to know how to get out of the contract.
Property Management Costs
How much does property management cost? This is the big one – and you may wonder why I suggest waiting until the end to ask this. Through my experience, you want to get the inside view out. If I am looking for a property manager, I would want to know everything I could before asking that question about costs. You want to know what you’re paying for. You don’t want a management fee to immediately end the conversation. You will be comparing management companies, so make sure you’re getting the same services first.
If you are looking for a Terre Haute property manager, use these subject areas to ask additional questions. We’re happy to help you or provide more information, so please contact us at Complete Landlord Solutions.