The chances are if you’ve owned a property for any length of time you’ve developed a bit of a handyman knack. Every property has its own idiosyncrasies, whether that’s a tap that seems to eat washers or a light that loves to flicker. A rental property is no different apart from the fact that the tenant likely isn’t going to approach these issues with the same ‘I can fix it’ attitude of an owner.
This means these things can go untended for long periods of time which results in minor issues becoming major, and a fix that might have cost $20 could end up costing $1000.
The least you as a landlord can do then is make a note of all the potential issues and arrange convenient times to get in and do a few quick fixes.
Here are 10 maintenance jobs that landlords can do themselves to save $1000s.
Leaky faucets waste a huge amount of water as well as staining sinks and tubs. And a lot of the time they’re pretty easy to fix. Often all you need to do is disassemble the tap and replace a worn gasket or washer. You can likely even find instructions for this job online on the manufacturer’s website. And you can certainly find a video or two on Youtube to help you.
You would likely expect to pay $125+ just for the callout fee for a plumber.
Potential Savings: $125+ per leak.
Related: The Many Hats Of A Landlord
Out of sight out of mind. The number one problem for pipes is clogging. Whether that’s the kitchen sink or the shower drain.
In the kitchen, it’s likely going to be fats and oils that have washed down the drain which can catch food particles and quickly build up to a big problem. In the bathroom, it’s more likely going to be a build up of the hair.
The best fix for this is preventative. Flush the kitchen sink with hot water and fat cutting detergent to dissolve the fats and flush them down the pipes.
Having a removable and easily cleanable hair strainer for the shower will help prevent shower blockages.
The shower head is also liable to issues. If it is leaking you can try using thread tape. Unscrew the head wrap the tape around the thread and then screw it back on. For a build-up of limescale, you should remove the head and soak it in a bowl of warm water and vinegar for an hour or so to dissolve the limescale. This has the added benefit of adding shine to older metal shower heads.
Potential Savings: $125+ per clogged drain.
Flickering lights and short circuits are systemic problems and especially common in older houses. These will likely require a professional to deal with safely. However, sockets that lose power can often be repaired by tightening a connection – or worst-case scenario, swapping it out for a new outlet.
Often this is a pretty simple job taking no more than 10- to 20-minutes. Just make sure to turn off the breaker controlling the circuit before you remove the outlet or switch cover!
Potential Savings: $125+ per repair.
Appliances are expensive and a pain to replace. Refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers all have their own problems to contend with.
If, like me, you threw out your user manual years ago never fear. You can likely find all the information you need online and a Youtube video or two to guide you through the process.
A lot of the time the repairs are simpler than you might think. The first things you should check are the fuse, drive belt or internal obstructions, etc.
Potential Savings: $200+ per repair. More if you end up having to replace the unit.
Our heating and cooling systems get put through the grinder when the weather turns and oftentimes people don’t know how to maintain them.
The first point I wanted to make is that some simple ongoing maintenance can dramatically reduce the chances that you’ll need to call a repairman out. You can easily perform several maintenance tasks including filter replacement, cleaning the refrigeration coils, and making sure fan motors are properly lubricated.
If you have a gas furnace, you should familiarize yourself with the procedure for changing a faulty thermocouple or heat sensor, which is often responsible for the failure of the pilot to stay lit.
Taking these measures will elongate your heating and cooling unit’s lifetime and reduce the need for expensive call-outs.
Potential Savings: $500+
Whilst tenants should share responsibility for keeping them at bay, it ultimately falls to the landlord to keep the property pest-free.
Knowing how to control pests in your rental property could save you hundreds of dollars that you would otherwise have to spend on professional exterminators.
You will first need to research effective solutions specific to the pests you need to control. For example, ants vs. mice vs. rats. vs. cockroaches. Each will require a different approach. Purchase the right kind of bait and traps as well as materials like wire mesh or caulk for sealing access points.
A major leak is a major job for professionals. However, like all the other items on this list so far, there are steps and measures you can undertake to mitigate the potential for major roofing problems.
You can often do minor repairs to a roof with roofing tar and caulk which could save you thousands if the problem is allowed to worsen and professionals need to be brought in.
Preventing debris from building up in your gutters is also a good practice and will help prevent damaging leaks.
Potential Savings: $1,000+
Holes sometimes just appear in walls. It’s strange and I’m sure your tenant knows nothing about it. Thankfully, although unsightly, a hole in drywall is a pretty easy fix. You can repair holes using a patching compound – slap on a bit of paint over the top and good as new.
We advise you to always keep a few tins of the same color paint knocking around for occasions like these.
Unfortunately, drywall damage from water is not so easy to fix, and you will need to replace it which is a slightly bigger and messier job, but still pretty straightforward.
Potential Savings: $300+
Being handy with a paintbrush will save you thousands in repainting fees that a professional would charge. It’s pretty straight forward, but developing an efficient routine isn’t trivial. And you will want to be efficient as it can take a pretty long time.
You’ll need plenty of paint, tape for protecting edges eg. window sills and skirting boards, a roller or two, paintbrushes, and some old sheets to cover the floor and furniture.
Potential Savings: $200+ per room
Bathrooms are often in need of repair and renovations. But simple repairs like recaulking tiles and making sure all the seal around the shower etc haven’t worn away will keep the water where it’s meant to be and stop damaging leaks. If you don’t do this, you could find that the bathroom needs a lot more work – even a complete renovation which could run into the thousands.
Potential Savings: $500+ for a bathroom renovation.
Of course, many jobs do require a professional. For jobs like these, you will need to hire professionals. Here’s a great article with a few tips on how to find good contractors.
No matter whether you do the fixes yourself or hire a pro you need to keep careful records of every expense.
When buying materials for property maintenance, for example, make sure to log these expenses in Landlord Studio – quickly attach the digitized receipt at the same time by snapping a picture of it.
We’ve put together a detailed article of our Top Accounting Tips for Landlords where we explore this further.
We hope you found this blog interesting! However, do note that it should not be used as a substitute for competent legal and/or other advice from a licensed professional.
Ben is an author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks.
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