Tips on Handling Rental Property Maintenance
It’s in every property owner’s best interest to keep up with rental property maintenance in Orlando. Letting the condition of the rental unit slip or neglecting its most important appliances only leads to more extensive repairs in the future and devalues the property.
Property owners have several options when it comes to their rental homes. They can do it themselves, hire contractors or handymen, or simply turn it over to a property management company. Which you choose depends on the degree to which you want to be involved and your skill set.
- Doing-it-yourself. If you have the time, talent and tools, taking care of the maintenance projects and chores will be the most profitable route. However, some of the work has a steep learning curve, and the tools it takes don’t come cheap. Keep in mind, there are also certain repairs which Orange County or the City of Orlando requires appropriate and licensed professionals to do.
- Hiring it out. If you can handle a paint brush and fix a leaky faucet, you can hire someone else for the more complicated projects.
- Using a property management company. These companies specialize in rental housing and use licensed contractors or experts for property maintenance. You eliminate the risks associated with finding your own reputable contractor or handyman. Management companies do all the scheduling between the tenant and the contractor and take care of all the paperwork and legwork for you.
Tips for Landlords Regarding Maintenance
Make sure that you and your tenant understand who is responsible for what and put it in writing. Generally, the tenant takes care of the day-to-day cleaning and sometimes yard maintenance if there’s no HOA involved. Ask the tenant to let you know when smoke detector or carbon monoxide detectors need fresh batteries. As the owner, you’re responsible for the appliances, plumbing and electrical systems.
Document the Property
- Photograph or video the condition of the property during the walk-through with the tenants when they assume occupancy.
- Explain to them that you or your agents will need periodic access to perform the routine rental property maintenance that includes these appliances:
Water Heater Maintenance
- To extend its lifetime, drain off a few quarts of water from the bottom spigot twice a year. You'll need a garden hose that reaches outdoors or to the closest drain. All water heaters have a hose connection that sits just below the spigot to make this maintenance project easier.
- Check the temperature setting for the water heater. It will last longer and energy bills will be lower if you turn the water temperature down to 120° F. Hard water deposits form more slowly at this lower temperature, which reduces tank corrosion. Your tenants will also run less of a risk of scalding injuries.
- Water heaters that use sacrificial anode rods tend to last longer than those without them, as long as the rods are replaced when necessary. You can check the owner’s manual to see if your water heater uses such a rod, or look the model up online. The sole purpose of the rod is to attract the corroding agents in the water so that they don't react with the metal lining of the tank.
- The rods are easy to inspect and see if it needs changed. If the home has a water softener that adds salt to the incoming water, check the rod every six months. Under normal water conditions the rod may need to be replaced every five or six years.
HVAC System Maintenance
- Whether you do it or your tenants will, the air filter for the HVAC system should be checked monthly during the cool season in Orlando and changed whenever it's covered with dust. Nothing promotes high energy bills and unnecessary repairs more than running the system with a dirty filter. Upgraded air filters are a bonus for residents, but they should be checked more often than the porous fiberglass filters. Denser filters trap more airborne particulates and will get dirty faster.
- Make sure the outdoor condenser stays clean and the tenants don't put things on top of it or beside it. The cooling efficiency of the air conditioner or heat pump relies on the free flow of air going through the condenser coil. When anything blocks the air flow through the coil, it takes longer for the heat from the home to dissipate.
- When you or the tenants mow the lawn, point the discharge chute away from the condenser to avoid a buildup of grass clippings on the coil and fans. Once clippings dry, they are difficult to remove and they will impede cooling efficiency. They may also cause pinhole leaks in the coil, which could prompt the need for an expensive repair or system replacement.
- At least once a year schedule professional HVAC maintenance, especially if the system is still under warranty. Besides checking and cleaning all the components, the technician will measure refrigerant levels and add more if necessary. Running an air conditioner or heat pump without enough refrigerant shortens its lifetime and could cause a compressor failure.
Clothes Dryers Maintenance
The exhaust pipe for the dryer should be thoroughly cleaned once a year. Vacuum the area under the dryer to remove the lint that falls off the trap.
Purchase a refrigerator coil cleaning brush at any home improvement center and use it to clean the coils annually. If the refrigerator doesn't have a removable toe plate at the bottom, you'll find the coils behind it. Vacuum the excess dust.
Plumbing System Maintenance
- Replace washers on dripping faucets to save water and prevent stains from building in sinks and tubs.
- Look under the sinks periodically to look for mold or warped cabinet floors. Have pipe fittings tightened if they’re loose.
Home Exterior Maintenance
Check the outside exterior walls, windows and gutters on an annual basis. Exterior paint can wear off over time and cause moisture to seep into the home, while windows in the hot Florida summer heat may need recaulking around the edges on a frequent basis. Gutters can always use a good cleaning to prevent blockage over time, and water to end up too close to the sides of your home causing erosion.
Whether you decide that rental property maintenance is something you can do yourself, or opt for the professional help a management company provides, staying on top of these tasks will preserve the value of your rental homes.
As always, we’re here at American Dream Homes to help you with managing your property.
Want to enjoy the passive income from owning a rental home and not have to worry about the headaches? Give us a call today!