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2021 Checklist for the DIY Landlord

2021 Checklist for the DIY Landlord

Property Management - Annual MaintenanceAs we kickstart the new year, a time traditionally dedicated to juggling new resolutions, claiming intentions, and completing laundry lists of to-do items, property managers are looking for ways to improve efficiency and enhance their properties in 2021. An annual maintenance checklist is a simple and effective way to start.

Seasonal Boxes to Check

A few things we, at Walters & Co, consistently recommend and perform on each of our properties are annual furnace and gutter cleanings in the fall, annual aeration/fertilization in the spring, and starting up/blowing out sprinklers in the spring, early summer, and fall. Landscaping and sprinklers get scheduled throughout a two-week period in the spring. Gutter cleaning and furnace cleanings we usually spread out between November and December, but those are usually all done within a five-week period, depending on what else we have going on.

Pros of Regular Property Management

Regular and preventative maintenance extends the life of rental properties while saving you money in the long run. If something breaks and you fix it immediately, it’s going to cost you a lot less to fix it correctly when it’s a small problem instead of “cheaping out” or ignoring it until it becomes a much larger problem. Property maintenance doesn’t go away-- it just gets worse. The number one reason tenants choose to move out is due to maintenance that was not dealt with properly or it took too long to fix the issue. Tenants are willing to pay more and will likely stick around if you take optimal care of your property. Once upon a time, Walters & Co had a “lease-only” property that was vacant for quite a while, but when we went in to do the move-in inspection the day before a tenant was moving in, the master bathroom had flooded and the ceiling had collapsed in the kitchen, flooding that as well. A very unlucky situation reflecting the circumstances that can arise without regular maintenance checkups. Not to mention a lesson we certainly won’t have to learn twice.

DIY Landlords: Are Checklists Standard Practice?

Depending on the landlord, annual maintenance checklists may or may not be standard practice. Some DIY landlords take pride in their property(s), so checklists are a no-brainer. Those are usually the career landlords that have done this for a living and have medium to large portfolios. They hover and are constantly at their property's landscaping and checking on all the appliances-- probably doing more than they really need to. On the other hand, there are the landlords (“slum lords”) that allow things to get so bad that floors are missing, cabinet doors are taped on, toilets haven’t been re-installed, ceilings are caving in, broken windows, etc. The level of effective maintenance strongly depends on the diligence of the individual landlord.

Property Check-Ups

In regards to regular property check-ups, Walters & CO is very lucky. We have our own maintenance company, therefore we have the opportunity to train our maintenance techs on lease compliance and what red flags look like. So, indirectly, we’re checking on properties rather often. Whenever our techs are in or around the property, they’re keeping an eye out for those compliance issues and red flags. Formally, we do three inspections throughout a year-long tenancy: one before the tenant moves in, one halfway through, and one when the tenant moves out. If one of our techs comes back and says there’s an issue or an owner has a weird feeling about something, we immediately schedule a formal inspection and handle the situation accordingly. In the case of something going wrong at one of our properties, our process for satisfactorily completing maintenance requests is as automated as possible. For a normal maintenance request, we typically reach out and get something scheduled within 24 hours of receiving the request, if not sooner. If it’s the weekend or a holiday, that can extend the response time a bit but not by much. All of our tenants have access to 24/7 emergency service if there is an emergency outside normal business hours. If we can get someone out there immediately we do. Someone from our company is almost immediately in contact with the tenants working through emergency requests, though. I can confidently say every single one of our properties is kept well above the legally required standard. Our goal is always to resolve a maintenance issue as quickly as possible.

New Year, New You

Head into the new year with confidence, efficiency, and a refined approach to property management. Making timely improvements and implementing systems of regular maintenance is guaranteed to revolutionize your management strategy all year round. Learn more about how Walter’s & Co can help: