Each time we take on a new rental property, it always surprises me how many owners are managing their maintenance all ad-hoc. No system, no plan, all reactionary. I think this contributes to added stress and frustration (and probably costs). Let’s explore some of the fallacies and how systems can resolve this.
Fallacy=Cheap labor is good.
Many landlords are cheap! That seems to be just the nature of the business. Unfortunately, that drive to cut corners and save a dime can add stress and frankly lower the quality of your property which often results in your lowering rent to get/keep it filled which leads to more frustrations. Now I am not suggesting that you need to remodel every unit down to the studs and put in gold-plated faucets. I am just suggesting that maybe that $15/hour painter that hired is not worth the savings. He is unreliable (how many calls did you make to confirm he would be there). This guy is messy and gets paint on things. Did I mention at the end you have to drive across town to pay him in cash cause he can’t/won’t send you an invoice? Find a handyman that is good at what he does and then pay him accordingly.
Fallacy=Ignoring a problem will make it go away.
While this can work rarely (such as tenants pestering you about trivial items), this tactic often explodes into larger issues. That pest issue is not going away. That leaking roof is not going to plug itself. That soft floor around the toilet is not going to get any better. More caulk or spray foam is not the answer to all issues. Take the time to fix things correctly which will improve the quality of your property and reduce your long-term stress
Fallacy=Routing all maintenance calls to your cell phone is good.
This might work if you have 1 rental property. If you have more than 5 rentals, you need to have a better solution. I remember the days when I was managing 28 rental units by myself. Calls coming in to my cell at all hours. Many times I am in the car and I simply forget about the request once I get onto another topic. This just leads to frustrated tenants and stress of emergency calls. There are many less expensive call centers that will take a maintenance call 7×24 and route the request to your email. This is also a bonus that lets you delegate work when you go on vacation.
Fallacy-Do everything reactionary.
Yes, I understand that most people don’t proactively replace a 15 year water heater. Do you want to be dealing with that some Friday night and paying emergency overtime hours to your plumber or scheduling it when it is convenient? When you go to the property, are you checking for leaks, furnace filters, putting down mice bait, making sure gutters are cleaned, gutter downspouts are properly extended, locks work etc? These small checks and small upgrades are easy when you do them at your leisure prior to a failure.
If your rental property maintenance issues are leaving you stressed, think about improvements you can make in your process or way of thinking to start reducing maintenance calls.