Are you about to become a first-time property investor and plan to rent out the home you buy? Or perhaps your circumstances have changed, so you must rent out your personal house for a time. No matter your situation, if you’re going to become a landlord, there is more to successful rental properties than finding a tenant.
In particular, it’s important for property maintenance to be kept up while others are living on your property. This way, not only will potentially costly problems be avoided, but you’ll also be able to attract tenants at a higher price. Your work will also encourage the lessees to take care of the property better because they can see you take pride in it. Read on for some top property maintenance tips for landlords you can follow today.
Determine What You Are Responsible For
For starters, it’s important to be aware of the responsibilities you have as a property owner. While tenants have to pay their rent on time and often have to cover their own utilities, landlords have to keep the property in good condition.
Property owners must follow all health and safety codes (local, state and federal) and know what is required for them in their area since codes can vary from region to region. A big part of adhering to these codes is performing regular maintenance both inside and outside the home, so those living on the property stay safe.
For instance, you need to get rid of any mold in the home, especially toxic mold, and remove any lead paint hazards in the property, which typically requires a licensed professional. There are many other codes around things like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, proper lighting, safe banisters and stairs, guards on higher windows and even weather-related laws (e.g. regarding clearing walkways after snowfall).
The landlord is also responsible for fixing any emergency issues that should arise in relation to plumping and electricity. Most professional landlords will take out a landlord emergency policy. A home emergency for landlords policy is aimed at household emergencies that need to be fixed urgently. The cover will usually include cover for burst pipes, electric and heating failures, security breaches and vermin infection.
Carefully read over your state’s landlord-tenant law as well as local regulations to be sure you are doing everything required of you as the property’s owner. If you use a real estate management firm to manage the home for you, be sure to choose an organization that is similarly committed to following through on tasks.
It is vital to take measures to protect yourself, too. This is where insurance comes in.
Check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it covers renting. If not, check out landlord property insurance for the physical structure you rent out. You may also want to add insurance to cover the appliances or systemson the property. There are many options available, so you’ll need to compare products closely. If your property is situated in California, for example, search for California home warranty policies to find suitable options.
You may also want to get specific insurance that covers against things like natural disasters, low rental income, lawsuits and legal fees.
Create a Maintenance Schedule
So you never forget about any important maintenance tasks, consider setting yourself a schedule for the year ahead. Incorporate monthly, quarterly, biannual, yearly and one-off (as required) tasks into it, so you don’t fall behind.
Wherever possible, take pictures or video footage of different areas of the property, perhaps when regular inspections are carried out in the home, so you have a better way of detecting wear and tear and can see if any issues start popping up. Do not rely on tenants to let you know about problems as they may not notice them or bother to report them.
Hire Professional Contractors as Needed
While you likely want to try to complete as many maintenance tasks around the property as you can to save money, in many cases it’s actually better, or sometimes even required, to hire professional contractors who are experienced and licensed to do the work.
Consider paying tradespeople and others to do work such as check for pests like termites and maintain heating and cooling systems. In particular, filters must be replaced and water lines and ventilation checked. Contractors can also clean out gutters; check and repair roofs; cut back trees from power lines and away from fences or remove vegetation which has become too big and potentially dangerous; ensure smoke detectors and other safety equipment work; assess and add insulation; clean chimneys and fireplaces; etc.
Follow these steps to keep your property in tip-top shape and you will have fewer landlord headaches over the years and save yourself money, to boot.