Emergency maintenance calls are an inconvenience for everyone involved. Routine maintenance on your rental property can help reduce the number of emergency calls you receive and is an important factor in keeping your property safe for tenants. Performing routine maintenance and fixing small problems can also help prevent more costly repairs down the road. Here are some preventative maintenance steps for a few common maintenance problems.
Sinks and tubs will develop clogs over time. However, there are some proactive steps you can take to minimize the number of maintenance calls related to clogged drains:
- Install drain screens wherever possible to catch items like hair and food that commonly clog the drains.
- Provide your tenants with plungers and clear instructions about drain care. Instruct tenants to regularly clean drain stoppers, pour boiling water in the drains once per month, and to regularly clean garbage disposals with ice cubes. Do not allow tenants to pour caustic chemicals, grease or coffee grounds down the drains.
- In your rental contract, clearly state who’s responsibility it is to call a plumber and how many times per year you are willing to fix a clogged drain at your expense.
Heating and cooling system malfunctions should always be considered an emergency situation, with any number of circumstances that can endanger tenant safety. Regular maintenance on the heating/cooling system can help prevent emergency situations.
- Regular replace filters every three months, and calibrate the thermostat once a year.
- Test the furnace in late summer or early fall to identify any problems before the weather turns cold. Also, each spring, clean the air conditioner evaporator and clear any brush that has grown around the condenser.
- Test the air conditioning in March to make sure it’s in good working order.
Remember, routine maintenance calls are much cheaper than after hours emergency calls.
Depending upon where your rental property is located, there are any number of potential pests that can cause you major headaches. Here are a few basic maintenance tips to help reduce the chances of pest infestation:
- Conduct routine inspections of the building. Examine the exterior of the building carefully, sealing any gaps/holes where pests can enter.
- Check all chimneys and make sure they are properly capped.
- Install screens on all windows.
- Clear away landscaping that comes in contact with the building.
- Make your tenant a partner in preventing any unwelcome guests. Put statements in your lease that clarify their responsibilities in preventing pests. Keeping the living area clean is the most effective way of preventing most pest infestations!
Help! I’m locked out of my apartment. Sound familiar? This emergency call can be a real inconvenience for the independent landlord who doesn’t have a property manager working or living at the residence. To help avoid this problem, provide tenants with an extra key or leave a lock box somewhere on the property to hold spare keys. As a safety precaution, be sure to have all keys stamped with “Do not duplicate”. Also, record the number of keys provided to the tenant and require all keys to be returned upon moving out.
These simple maintenance tasks can go a long way in reducing the number of emergency calls you receive.