I see deferred maintenance on rental properties almost daily and wonder if some owners think that their house, duplex or apartment building is self-sufficient. Unfortunately, they are not! Do you never do any upkeep on your own home?
Here are some common issues I see that if addressed could make your investment property more desirable to tenants, worth more when you sell it, and potentially reduce future maintenance calls.
- Doors. These are some of the most often under maintained, but over abused parts of the home (maybe next to the flooring). Doors are the first thing a new tenant sees when they tour your property. Dirty, dented and ones with damaged jambs are ones that scream, “I don’t really care about my property” and/or :you as a tenant can abuse this as you like”. Now I get it that tenants can be hard on doors, but a properly maintained door will reduce issues later.
- Windows. Unfortunately, windows are expensive to replace. But the original window from when the property was built 100 years ago are past their useful life. Yes, there are 200 year old windows on some buildings that work fine, but if your property has been a rental for any length of time, those windows have probably been neglected. Installing new vinyl windows will reduce heating costs, eliminate problems with lead paint, reduce being failed by Section 8 and city inspectors, etc. This will also increase the value of your rental property.
- Siding. While much of the new siding products such as vinyl and Hardie Board do have an incredible life span, not all rental properties have this newer technology. Many have older stucco, Masonite, or wood siding. While stucco is virtually maintenance free, you should be inspecting the building annually looking for any areas where water can get in behind the siding. Once this takes place, it can be very expensive to remove the stucco and fix. Masonite (common product back in the 1970s & 80s) has only a 20 year life span. How old is yours? Wood siding needs paint every couple years to keep it from starting to peel.
- Plumbing. This is not necessarily the plumbing fixtures like faucets and sinks, but maybe. Old tub faucets leak and waste water. Older galvanized pipes that are 75+ years old can have 1/4 of the pressure from when it was new because of corrosion. Replacing plumbing is not easy, but with the newer PEX products, it can be done cheaper and faster than using copper just a short couple years ago. When you are doing maintenance on rental properties, considering replacing sections each year until the entire property has new plumbing.
- Concrete. This is one that is often overlooked. Concrete steps and sidewalks can last many decades. Unfortunately, when they start to deteriorate, you are not going to get more than a year or two out of any patching or repair you are going to do. We are often replacing concrete steps with wood to reduce the initial cost (a new concrete step can be $4-8,000 vs $1500 for wood steps).
Every rental property out there is different. Different age, style and level of deferred maintenance. As you own your investment, plan to spend some money on capital improvements to keep the property performing for the next 100 years!