Your Boston rental property will likely require repairs and maintenance from time to time, even if it’s new and in great condition. General wear and tear on a property is natural and expected, and you’ll find that tenants are calling for help with leaks, broken doors and screens, clogged garbage disposals, and other necessary repairs and replacements.
Avoiding major and unexpected repair costs is essential to your ROI and the health of your home.
The best way to limit the number of emergency repairs you’re called to make is by implementing a sound preventative maintenance plan. This will protect the value of your asset and extend the lifespan of your most expensive home systems and appliances.
Preventative maintenance allows you to catch problems while they’re still small. It’s a good way for rental property owners to keep costs down and to preserve the condition of their investments.
As professional Boston property managers, we always recommend that owners make preventative maintenance a priority when renting out a property in Boston. This is where we focus on the homes we manage and maintain. Good property managers will understand the importance of preserving the value of your property. They’ll also help you avoid those major repairs that can seriously damage your ROI.
What do we mean by preventative maintenance, exactly? Here’s a checklist you’ll want to keep handy.
Setting Up a Preventative Maintenance Checklist for Your Boston Rental Property
Preventative maintenance can cover minor issues and entire systems. Pest control, for example, is a matter of preventative maintenance. You want to have your property treated on a regular basis so you don’t attract termites, mice, and other pests.
Landscaping is important, too. You need to think about how you’ll handle snow removal in the winters and lawn care in the summers. These should go onto your preventative maintenance checklist.
The most important things you’ll want to focus on when putting together a preventative maintenance plan, however, are your major systems. Most repair calls concern heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, and then leaks, drips, or plumbing issues all year long.
Checklist Item: HVAC Preventative Maintenance
Replacing the furnace or repairing a cooling system can be expensive. You want to have plenty of time for planning and saving before you install a new HVAC system. That’s where preventative maintenance really provides value. It helps you reduce the risk of surprise repairs.
The best thing you can do to protect your HVAC and prolong its life is to contract with a local HVAC technician who can conduct annual inspections and provide ongoing service to keep your system running efficiently and correctly.
This will cut down on repair requests and help you optimize the functionality of your most costly units.
This type of preventative service saves you money and headaches in the long term. You greatly reduce the risk of a tenant calling in the middle of January to report that there’s no heat. You’ll also have peace of mind because well-maintained HVAC systems operate more efficiently. They keep energy bills down and tenants comfortable. That’s good for your bottom line.
Having a relationship in place already with a good HVAC company is also worth the annual visits. This will make a huge difference in response time and cost if an unexpected repair is eventually needed.
Checklist Item: Preventative Plumbing Maintenance
Water is always going to present a threat to your Boston rental property, and you need a plan to detect problems early and address them cost-effectively. Even a minor leak or a drip in a bathroom faucet that’s left alone can quickly become a plumbing disaster.
Any time you have the opportunity to inspect your property, make sure you’re checking under sinks and behind toilets for signs of leaks or standing water. Caulk toilets and tubs whenever you have the chance. Preventative maintenance should include cleaning out gutters, making sure there aren’t branches and leaves gathered on the roof, and looking for evidence of water intrusion. In the spring and fall, you’ll want to check your sprinklers and irrigation systems to ensure they’re prepared for the season and not rusting, leaking, or malfunctioning.
The plumbing and maintenance experts we work with also advise us to drain water heaters annually. Water heaters can easily lead to emergency maintenance calls, and it’s easy not to think about them. However, the water heater is an appliance that needs routine inspections and service. Sediment can clog the heater, making them less efficient.
Checklist Item: Healthy Roofing
Your property’s roof is important to security and habitability. You want to make sure any leaves, branches, and debris is cleaned off the roof. Check for any place that water has pooled or rodents have made a home.
In addition to the roof, part of your preventative maintenance inspections should be the property’s foundation. Water runoff around the foundation of your property can cause shifting and settling. Moisture on the roof or in the foundation will attract termites and other pests.
Gutters can help keep water away from your property. Cleaning them out every year is an important part of your property maintenance plan so you can keep them clear. The goal is to have water and runoff moving safely away from the roof and the property’s foundation. It’s easy for damp leaves and sticks and even trash to get caught there, clogging the water and creating gutter overflow.
Find a good company who will come every fall and every spring to check and clean the gutters.
Checklist Item: Rental Property Appliances
Inspecting the appliances in your rental property is part of preventative maintenance, and it’s best to do this during tenant turnover periods, unless a resident calls with a repair need because the dishwasher isn’t working or the refrigerator is leaking.
If you provide a washer and dryer in your property, you’ll want to be vigilant about preventing fires in the clothes dryer. Nearly 3,000 fires start each year because of dryer lint and poor maintenance. Make sure the lint is cleaned out.
Instead of continually repairing appliances, replace them for newer, more efficient models.
Educating Boston Tenants on Preventative Maintenance
Tenants are important partners when it comes to taking care of your rental property and paying attention to preventative maintenance. Let them know you expect repair issues to be reported immediately. Deferred and unreported maintenance will only be more expensive and time consuming.
In our experience, tenants are either super-quick to report every minor issue, or they put it off. They might worry about bothering you, or they may fear that they’ll be blamed (and charged) for maintenance requests they make. But you want to know about repairs right away. Otherwise, you’ll face extra work and higher expenses.
It’s also important that your residents understand what they’re responsible for. Maybe you’ll ask them to change the air filters every three or six months. You may want to provide the filter size in the lease or even provide the filters themselves and then roll the cost into the rent.
The lease should state what maintenance tasks the tenant is responsible for and the cost they will be charged for non-compliance.
For example, if the tenant lets light bulbs burn out and does not replace them, they will be charged $10 for each bulb that is burnt out at the end of the lease term. When this is in the lease agreement, no one is surprised by the charge.
Preventative Maintenance Requires Insurance and Good Vendors
Evaluate your insurance policy annually. Preventative maintenance will help you avoid costly breakdowns of systems and appliances, but it can’t help you avoid the covered losses that insurance protects against. Unpredictable things can always occur, and you want to be covered.
Think about requiring renter’s insurance as well. Instead of relying completely on your own insurance policy, require the tenant to provide evidence of either liability insurance or renter’s insurance which includes liability and insurance for the tenant’s personal possessions.
Preventative maintenance plans require great vendors and contractors. Create a list of licensed and insured vendors and contractors who are committed to caring for your investment property. If there’s an emergency in the middle of the night, you don’t want to be looking for a plumber. You want to have someone reliable and responsive who will answer your call.
Develop relationships with professionals before you need them, and listen to their advice and recommendations when it comes to caring for your property. Make sure all of the vendors you work with are licensed and insured to prevent risk and liability.
Preventative maintenance is a topic that covers a lot of ground. The most important things you can do is to check on your property once in a while, establish a good and trusting relationship with your tenants, and put together a great network of vendors.
Or, you can partner with a professional Boston property management company, and we’ll take care of all this for you. We’ve been maintaining rental homes for years, and we’re prepared to make this less stressful and less costly for you. Contact our team at Platinum Realty Group.