Last week I wrote about deferred property maintenance regarding rental properties and realized that not all of the deferred maintenance that I see is necessarily due to a property owner's decision to purposely defer it. Preventative maintenance is a pro-active approach to prevent damage and more costly repairs. Preventative Maintenance/Inspections can identify unknown or unreported repairs before they get worse. Many years ago First Rate Property Management made preventative maintenance/inspections mandatory. Many owners did not agree that the cost was worth the benefit and demanded that FRPM not require it. FRPM changed its policy and although we strongly recommended preventative maintenance/inspections, we allowed it to be optional with some exceptions addressed below.
Preventative maintenance/inspections cost money and sometimes no repairs are found. Sometimes, no matter how often or recent preventative maintenance/inspection were performed, things still break. But, in the long-term, we believe that preventative maintenance saves money. Many of your FRPM Team Members are also Landlords and since we are in the business, we see pros and cons of preventative maintenance a thousand times more often than the average property owner. We see the issues identified during preventative maintenance and we see expensive repairs that likely could have been avoided with preventative maintenance. So all of us that are Landlords do pay the money to have preventative maintenance performed at our rentals.
Preventative maintenance/inspections are more important for rental homes and apartments because some tenants just don't feel the need to report items. Some have the most sincere intentions and feel that they don't want to bug the Landlord or Property Manager or nickel and dime them. Others simply can look at a leak and not even understand or consider that is something that needs addressed. We'll have Tony re-issue his published article about washing the rental car, which is a great analogy about the similarities between rental cars and rental homes and apartments.
Below I have created 3 groups of preventative maintenance.
HVAC and water heaters
FRPM recommends that property owners have their water heaters and HVAC systems serviced and inspected at a minimum of once per year. We recommend having the furnaces serviced in early fall before the heat is really needed and the A/C in early spring before the A/C it gets too hot outside. As I mentioned above, FRPM does require some HVAC systems and configurations to be inspected at least annually, versus being optional.
Gutters: Especially where tall and large trees are present, having gutters and roofs cleaned in the late fall and winter can prevent serious issues. Once clogged; soffits, fascia, siding, and interiors can be damaged. Long term damage will result in their replacement.
Parking lots: I listed those last week for deferred maintenance, but preventative sweeping and seal coating will prolong the life of a parking lot.
Preventative Maintenance Inspections:
Each year FRPM contracts out to a maintenance company to perform preventative maintenance inspections. They follow a checklist and they will: 1) perform preventative maintenance where needed, such as caulking bathrooms and kitchens, 2) make any immediate repairs, and 3) make recommendations on anything else identified. Repairs or maintenance that is done that is tenant caused or the tenant's responsibility is charged back to the tenant. The checklist for preventative maintenance inspections include:
1. A Visual inspection of the exterior: They are looking for repairs or damage to the roof, siding, windows, yard, fencing, etc. On apartments, they check exterior lighting and replace bulbs regardless if it is the tenants responsibility or not. We want the properties to be well lit for safety reasons.
2. Drywall: As they walk through the interior of the home or apartment, they inspect the walls for any damage and the source. If tenant related, FRPM is informed and takes action with the tenants. Obviously if there is other damage, they will seek the source and make the necessary repairs.
3. Lights: Generally they just make note if they find broken interior light fixtures, but if the fixtures require a ladder, special tools, or have other issues, they will replace.
4. Smoke/CO detectors: These are tested, batteries are replaced, as needed, and expired detectors are replaced.
5. Furnace filters that are dirty or missing are replaced.
6. Caulking as needed.
7. Windows, window coverings, and window locks are inspected. Broken window locks are repaired/replaced. Other damages are reported for FRPM to take necessary follow-up actions
8. Doors and door locks are checked. If not already done, they will replace some of the hinge screws and striker plate screws with 3" deck screws. This helps provide tenant safety. They also add a door viewer for the tenant unless it is a custom door, in which FRPM will discuss options with the property owner. Also, missing doorstops are replaced. Many tenants remove them, but this $2 item saves hundreds in door and wall repairs.
9. Water lines and valves are checked for leaks.
10 Dryer ducts and dryer exterior vents are inspected and cleaned if needed.
Tara Pecora, CMC, Maintenance Team Leader
First Rate Property Management, Inc.
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