As a landlord, you are responsible for ensuring your rental unit is free of damage and maintenance problems. Routine maintenance can be costly, so it is important to find ways to save money. By performing routine maintenance, you can help ensure that a small problem is fixed quickly before it becomes an expensive and headache-inducing emergency.
1. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms Regularly
Not having a working smoke detector is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Ensure that this is never a problem by checking these alarms monthly. The best time to get permission from the tenant for access to the unit is when the monthly rent is due. Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a smoke detector is 10 years and a carbon monoxide alarm is five years, so record the purchase date to know when you’ll need to buy a replacement.
2. Be Vigilant in Checking for Leaks and Water Damage
Although the best time to check that there are no water leaks is just after a storm, don’t wait for a big storm to verify that your property is free of water damage. Prior to a tenant moving in or out, always do a complete inspection of the home or apartment to check for any new damage. If you spot anything, immediately contact a professional and inform the new tenant that they may have to wait to move in.
No matter what, always check the home after a torrential rain or wind storm. Look for signs of water collecting near windows, the shower and any sliding doors. Be sure to check the ceiling for any discoloration or signs of soft spots. If you do not address water damage in a timely manner, it can lead to the growth of dangerous mold.
3. Change the Air Conditioning and Heating Filters
To ensure that the air conditioning and heating units operate at peak efficiency, you should change the filters twice a year. To keep on a set schedule, change the heating filter in October when the weather is just turning cold and the air conditioning filter in March when spring is approaching. The dirtier the filter, the more the monthly utility bill will be for you or your tenant, and the more likely an expensive maintenance problem will develop in the future. If you are not responsible for paying utility bills, it is still important to change the filters because high heat and air conditioning bills may lose you some tenants.
4. Drain the Water Heater
Not draining the water heater can lead to the development of excess sediment that can clog the drain valve. Not only will this make the water heater less efficient, but it could also lead to needing to replace the entire unit. You can drain the water heater yourself but it’s important to read the instructions and labels carefully as to not damage the water heater.
5. Call a Professional
While you may consider yourself a competent repair person or want to save a little money, it is always best to hire a professional when facing a costly maintenance problem. Only a professional can fix the problem the first time or offer a guarantee if the work is not done correctly. For help in finding a qualified repair person, ask friends and families for references. Chances are good that if a neighbor or trusted friend is using the person then they will be reliable and reputable.