The idea of being a property owner and generating passive income from rentals can be alluring and when properly managed lucrative. At the same time, there are a number of responsibilities that come with being a landlord and it is important that you are both aware of them and attending to them. Here are some things for you to consider. We have put them into two basic categories for you – Life Safety and Preventative maintenance.
Life-safety- As a property owner it’s both your job and legal responsibility to make sure your tenants are safe in their new home. Here are a few things you must check before they move in and that you want to inspect with some regularity as you can be liable for any and all of them.
· Primary electric – Be sure all electrical systems, circuits, and outlets are in good working order, compliant with building codes, and that your tenant knows where breakers, boxes, and emergency shutoffs are located.
· Handrails- Check all railings and handrails to be sure they are solid, fully functional, and well anchored to the floors, stairs, patios or porches.
· Trip hazards – This may seem obvious but be sure that you don’t have mismatched floor levels, broken concrete or walkways, or anything that could pose a tripping hazard.
· Appliances – Perform a check to be sure all burners are working on the stove, the oven works, the freezer and fridge are in good working order, and if there are fans or AC that all are working properly.
· Security – If you have an alarm system be sure the monitoring is set up and working and that the system itself is in good working order.
· Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors etc. – This is simple. Whenever you get a new tenant, change the batteries in all of the detectors. That way you know that everything will be in good working order.
· Foundation – This is more for your benefit and the point is to inspect the foundation of your property to be sure that the home or structures are not settling and causing cracks in the foundation. This is where water can get in and that is always a big problem.
Regular inspections are a good way to stay on top of these things and all leases provide for the landlord to inspect his/her property on a regular basis.
Preventative maintenance– Here we have two basic categories. Planned and unplanned maintenance. Planned maintenance should include things like:
· Trimming trees and shrubs to be sure they don’t encroach on walkways, sidewalks, obscure windows, of hang over the roof.
· Checking and maintaining any fences.
· Keeping the outside painted or stained
· Maintaining the yard – some landlords prefer to have a rental amount sufficient to cover yard maintenance while others leave it up to their tenants. In that case you need to provide the equipment for them to do so.
Unplanned maintenance – there are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to handling unexpected maintenance repairs. It’s a good idea to have a separate bank account set aside for when unexpected maintenance pops up. Experts typically suggest having at least three to six months of a property’s expenses in the bank. A great idea is to decide on a fixed amount of the monthly rent you collect to set aside for maintenance.
Another great idea is to keep a log of what, when, and how maintenance work was done on the property so you can be aware of when things might need redoing and how much that will cost. Preventative maintenance work is always less expensive than emergency repairs. This is especially true of plumbing and roofs. Leaking roofs can cause tremendous damage and everyone knows what happens when a pipe leaks, a drain backs up, or a fitting comes loose!