What is Property Maintenance and What Do Landlords Need to Know?

Good property maintenance management will keep tenants happy and prevent large unexpected maintenance bills. Here's what landlords need to know...

A big part of rental management is ensuring that the property itself is maintained to a high standard. This means a few things, from promptly responding to tenant maintenance requests, to doing regular inspections and managing routine property maintenance tasks.

Proper property maintenance will help keep your tenants happy, reducing tenant turnover and expensive vacancy periods, as well as helping you prevent large unexpected maintenance bills. A hands-on repairs and maintenance approach is a good strategy for protecting your investment long-term.

In this article, we take a look at what exactly is property maintenance management, as well as the best tools and strategies for efficiently managing requests and routine tasks to ensure you run a professional and scalable property business.


What exactly is property maintenance?

Property maintenance refers to any task carried out to keep the property in its optimal condition. This can be through preventative or reactive maintenance jobs. A few examples include:

  • Exterior maintenance. This is any general maintenance task that needs to be done to properly maintain the exterior of the building. This includes things like cleaning the gutters and drains, yard maintenance tasks like mowing and tree maintenance, as well as landscaping and snow removal.
  • Interior maintenance. This is any general maintenance task that needs to be done to properly maintain the interior of your rentals. This includes tasks such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC inspections and repairs, as well as minor repairs like fixing broken cupboards, replacing old and worn-out carpets, painting walls, replacing leaky faucets, etc.
  • Common area maintenance. For landlords with multi-unit properties, there will also be common areas that need to be maintained. These common areas will likely not fall under the care of the tenants, so additional maintenance tasks to properly look after these areas might include hiring a cleaner or gardener, replacing light bulbs, and ensuring building security.
  • Pest control. As the landlord, you are responsible for ensuring you provide a safe and habitable environment for your tenants. This means ensuring pests and any potential causes, such as a build-up of trash, are removed to prevent any potential infestations.
  • Routine safety checks. Safety checks include the maintenance of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as proactive inspections of mechanical and electrical systems and appliances.
property maintenance blueprints

Advantages of hiring a property maintenance professional

While you may be tempted to take on a lot of the work for maintaining your property yourself, this ultimately is not a scalable strategy, and can even lead to more expensive issues down the line. Plus, while some jobs may be simple, like mowing the lawn or repainting between tenants, some jobs you simply won’t be qualified to do such as fixing an electrical fault.

  • Save time. Property maintenance jobs can take a long time, from reviewing the issue to getting parts and then actually completing the task. This is time you simply may not have, and if it’s a more complex job, you may have to learn how to do it.
  • Quality control. Unless you’re a skilled handyman yourself, it’s likely that good contractors will not only complete the job faster than you but also do it to a higher standard.
  • Cost-effectiveness. You might think that doing the job will save you money, but how much is your time actually worth? And what if you don’t do it properly? This could mean redoing it down the line, paying for more parts, and potentially being forced to hire contractors in the end anyway.
  • Building relationships. At some point in time, there will be a maintenance emergency. A pipe bursts, a fire starts, or the furnace gives out in the dead of winter. You need to get someone there quickly, but you may not be free and you may not know how to fix it. Having a good relationship with a team of maintenance professionals means you can simply pick up the phone and send over whoever is available right then to handle it.

It’s always a good idea to begin building out your contact list of skilled and trustworthy contractors sooner rather than later. This will not only save you time and money in the long run but also offer you peace of mind because you know your investment is properly looked after.

To find the best contractors, whether you're looking to generate landscaping leads or plumbing leads, look for a business with a quality website. It should have obvious information like contact details, but should also include a portfolio of work, detailed list of services, and possible even a blog.

How to streamline your property maintenance management

Whether or not you hire a professional to carry out the actual work, you will need a way to easily track, prioritize and manage upcoming and ongoing maintenance jobs and requests.

There are a few solutions for streamlining your property maintenance management. One of the easiest and most affordable is to find a property management software that also has work order management system built in such as Landlord Studio. This will allow you to record, track and prioritize maintenance tasks so that nothing slips through the cracks.

With Landlord Studio users can set reminders for important and routine maintenance tasks, easily create new maintenance jobs, add photos and descriptions, and track maintenance progress. Plus, you can invite your tenants to the tenant portal which will not only give them access to their payment history (and you can even allow them to pay rent online), but also will give tenants the ability to easily make detailed maintenance requests online for you to review.

Find out more about property maintenance with Landlord Studio

Tracking property maintenance expenses

It is essential that, whatever the maintenance expense, you accurately track it using a quality income and expense management system. This is because maintenance is deemed a necessary business expense by the IRS and can be deducted at the end of the tax year.

Landlord Studio also offers award-winning income and expense tracking tools. Simply log the maintenance expense against the relevant property and attach the receipt(s) from your contractor.

Then at tax time, navigate to the reports section and instantly generate any of over 15 accountant-approved reports including your P&L and a specially designed Schedule E report. You can also generate a supplier expense report to make filling out any essential 1099 forms as easy as possible.

Property repairs vs improvements

Real estate investors need to be able to differentiate between repairs vs improvements because the two expenses need to be treated differently. An improvement can’t be deducted immediately in that tax year but instead will need to be added to the cost basis of the property and depreciated. The costs associated with a repair or regular maintenance on the other hand can be wholly deducted at the end of the year.

An improvement is generally categorized as any durable lasting upgrade, adaptation, or enhancement of the property which significantly increases its value. For example, a kitchen refurb or attic conversion.

A repair includes both routine and preventative maintenance such as the tasks listed above. It can include, both reactive measures, eg. fixing something when it breaks, and preventative measures to prevent further deterioration of the asset as well as replacements of components that have reached the end of their “useful life”.

Find out more: capital improvements vs repairs

Landlord Studio, more than just property maintenance management

As well as offering you the tools to track and manage maintenance tasks Landlord Studio offers a broad range of property management tools designed to save you time, maximize your revenue and run a professional and scalable rental property business.

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