Owning a home is rewarding in many ways. Home ownership can give you a sense of pride, comfort in owning your own property, and the feeling of having total control over the decisions you make - not to mention the fact that real estate is one of the best long term investments you can make.
However, being a landlord involves a lot of responsibilities and duties. A rental property might provide you with income, but you have to keep investing in it to save on long-term repairs and maintain high standards. As a landlord, you should plan to complete the following maintenance tips at least once a year. What better time than spring?
Inspect Your Roof
Any extreme weather can damage the roof and put you at risk for leaks and potential mold problems. Check for loose or broken roof tiles and shingles or places where your asphalt or rubber roofing might have developed tears. Winter weather can damage all roofing materials, so it's essential to do a damage check as soon as the weather warms up.
An average roof needs to be replaced every 15 years, so make sure you do your maintenance regularly. Don’t let your roof become so damaged that it needs a complete do-over. Instead, carry out a 7-step roof inspection.
Clean the Rain Gutters
Check the walls around the gutters and downspouts for water damage that may indicate that the drainage system is not working correctly - it might be clogged. Clean all the dirt accumulated during the fall and winter from your canals. This will ensure that rain water can continue to flow freely and directed away from your home.
Clean Windows and Check Seals
Check the caulking around your windows for dry, cracked, or missing caulking. If you find any problems, scrape off the old caulking before applying a new strip again. Keeping windows properly sealed ensures a more efficient use of energy.
After any repair work, give your windows a good cleaning inside and out. Gently remove and clean the screens and dry them before re-inserting. You can clean windows with a traditional glass cleaner - or even vinegar - and a rubber brush or a soft cloth.
Prepare Your Lawn
Rake old leaves and clear away dead grass. Spring is also the time to reseed your lawn if there are any bald spots or areas damaged by frost or heavy foot traffic.
Depending on your lawn and location needs, you may want to apply herbicide and fertilizer to ensure healthy growth. Additionally, consider making an inventory of your garden supplies and refining your equipment. If you're thinking of going natural and want a wildflower meadow instead of a lawn, now is the time to pick native seeds.
Provide Maintenance to Your HVAC
Properly working heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are crucial. While some HVAC maintenance, such as changing the air filter, can be done yourself, it is always a good idea to have a professional look over your air conditioning unit before the summer months.
Regular maintenance keeps your HVAC system in tip-top condition and can help prevent costly repairs in the future. A professional can also check for mold and allergens. This is very important if you have current tenants, as asthma, allergies or other chronic conditions could be further aggravated by poorly maintained ventilation systems.
Check Your Attic and Basement
Check your attic and basement for unusual odors or any sign of wort and mold. Look for leaks, water damage, or discoloration. You may also want to check your sump pump to ensure it is working correctly and there is not any leakage in the pipes. These areas may also be prone to insect infestations, so keep an eye out for any signs of pests.
Check Smoke Alarms and Smoke Detectors
In some states it is a landlord’s responsibility to provide tenants with working smoke detectors as well as carbon monoxide detectors. Many landlords will put up smoke detectors, but then come up short in regards to their maintenance.
Smoke alarms and smoke detectors often have guarantees that last up to 10 years. However, the batteries do need to be changed regularly. Moreover, once the guarantee expires, the landlord also needs to replace the old detectors with new ones.
Some smoke detectors are too sensitive and can go off when there is no real danger. Fixing a sensitive smoke detector can be as easy as changing its placement or blowing air through its vent.
Check for Mold
Not only can mold present a serious health hazard, but it can damage the walls, floors, and ceiling of your home. Mold tends to accumulate in places that are frequently exposed to water. This includes exposure to rain water in areas such as the garage or around windows, as well as water from indoor plumbing. Make sure to pay special attention to areas around evacuation pumps such as in laundry rooms or under the sinks in kitchens and bathrooms.
Doors and Windows
A home always needs to be kept clean and tidy, as well as to be safe and secure. Verify that the locks and latches on all doors and windows, including in the garage, are functioning properly. A garage door that doesn’t close properly is a safety risk and an invitation to potential burglars.
If the garage door needs to be repaired or replaced, the upfront cost of a new garage door will be far less than the cost of a break-in down the line.
It’s worth it to run your hand along the edge seal of the windows to feel if any air is leaking in. If you feel air coming in, that’s when you’ll want to roll up your sleeves, take out your caulking gun, and get to work.
It is important to establish and maintain good communication with your tenants. Let them know about any inspections and repairs you have done, as well as to ask them to keep an eye out for any potential problems, so that you can fix them before they require costly repairs.
Ben Franklin famously wrote “A stitch in time saves nine,” meaning that it’s best to stitch up a “problem” right away when you spot one, in order to avoid more complex repairs down the road. It was true nearly 300 years ago when Ben Franklin’s Poor Man’s Almanac was published, and it’s true now.
Perhaps we could borrow from Ben Franklin and adapt the adage to make it fit a landlord - A repair in time saves nine. Or, better yet, - A spring repair saves fall despair.
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