Property managers and owners in Southern California are responsible for major repairs to the exterior and interior of their buildings. Specifically, they are responsible for fixing costly plumbing issues, fixing or replacing appliances when needed, and fixing major building repairs. In this article, we will discuss the importance of preventative maintenance on rental properties to avoid expensive repair issues.
Rental properties are an enormous investment and Southern California landlords can get in trouble if they’re not proactive when it comes to conducting repairs and scheduling maintenance inspections of their properties. The reality is that most landlords are reactive. For months and sometimes years, property managers in Orange County and Los Angeles ignore and neglect their rental property. Then one day, they panic because the property may unexpectedly require a new roof, a new boiler, or some other costly repair.
A good rule of thumb is that for every dollar a property manager spends on preventative maintenance, they save the owner $100 in repairs. Preventative maintenance isn’t sexy. It doesn’t even feel useful most of the time. It can feel like a complete waste of time and money.
Read below for some common repair and maintenance issues that property managers should maintain when managing their rental property.
The majority of costly air conditioning and furnace issues/repairs are preventable with regular maintenance.
Every Fall season or the beginning of the colder months, send an HVAC contractor to service your furnaces. Regular maintenance dramatically extends the life of your furnaces in your buildings.
Similarly, you should have your air conditioning units serviced every spring or at the beginning of the hotter months in Southern California (i.e., July).
It is advisable that you add a clause lease agreement that tenants are required to change the air filters every three months or that the superintendent will be changing the air filters every three months. Be sure to specify the filter size in the lease agreement. At the very least, make sure that either you or your tenants are changing the filters at least twice a year (Spring and Fall).
Dirty air filters strain HVAC systems: they also lower the efficiency of the system and creates higher utility costs.
With regular property inspections, you can ensure that your tenants are complying with the lease agreements and maintaining the property. During the property inspection, this is also an excellent time to ensure that your tenants are replacing smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries. You can use the property inspection as your opportunity to conduct periodic testing of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
The changing seasons, especially winter or windy months, can be hard on trees.
Every Spring and Fall, you should inspect the surrounding trees to determine if any trees may need to be cut back from the house, walls, power lines, or A/C. Also, watch for root growth beneath concrete surfaces. Catching overgrowth early can prevent major expenses like repaving a driveway or tree roots that may be growing too close to your foundations.
One of the easiest ways to protect your Southern California property and prevent damage to your foundation (especially water damage) is to maintain your gutters and downspouts. Specifically, you should ensure that they are cleaned regularly and that they are draining at least six feet from the building.
In the unfortunate event that water collects in your property’s basement, you will need to be prepared with the installation of a sump pump to get rid of the water. Overall, a flooded basement can be a disaster and cost thousands of dollars in damage, not to mention it breeds mold and allergens. As such, it’s best to make sure that you’re prepared for water with a working sump pump.
Your hot water heater is a significant appliance that should also be checked annually. If you live in an area where the water is “harder” (i.e., more minerals are in it), this means that sediments will accumulate in your hot water heater faster, which can clog it and reduce its lifespan and efficiency.
As such, your water heater should be turned off and drained annually.
Bad caulking is important to get rid of because it can facilitate moisture getting into your property, which commonly leads to mold and other water damage. Every year, your Superintendent or staff should remove crumbling caulk around windows, doors, shower tiles, toilets, and anywhere else in the apartment that is caulked. After removing old caulk, you can instruct your staff to re-caulk the areas. Since caulking has a limited lifespan, this inspection should be conducted annually.
Water is very damaging to your rental properties. As such, you must do everything in your power to protect against it.
You should check the roof once or twice a year for any signs of leaks etc. The minute that you notice that your roof may be leaking, you should send a roofer immediately to investigate.
Additionally, you should regularly check under every sink in the property for leaking pipes or joints. Undetected leaks can lead to a mold invasion beneath the cabinets, ruined flooring, and eventually destroyed framing. You’ll also want to check all water valves, faucets, and shower handles to ensure they are all functioning properly. A broken valve can result in significant water damage which is both costly and time consuming.
Even when following a regular preventative maintenance schedule, part of the pitfalls of real estate management is that repairs will just come up. Out of nowhere, you may notice uneven pavement, loose fence posts, mold growth, exposed wires,
Overall, draft annual and monthly maintenance schedules for your buildings. Additionally, you should share this plan with your tenants, so they are aware of your maintenance schedule and can be prepared for it. Be diligent, and you will avoid costly repairs.
At Optum Real Estate Management, we’re obsessed with managing and maximizing our client’s ROI. Experience the Optum difference today. Call us at (949) 478-4695 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.