Avoiding Rental Property Issues
The headaches of property management can be greatly reduced by properly maintaining properties ensuring that everything is in proper working order. Tenants tend to treat a property better when they are in good shape. When a property is vacant, routine maintenance and upgrades can be easily completed. Having an air conditioner or furnace serviced and replacing filters can prolong the life of the unit. If the property needs upgrades such as new paint, flooring, appliances or landscaping, now is the time to do it. It’s much less hassle to only schedule around maintenance workers as opposed to getting the schedules of a tenant and maintenance worker all on the same page. Inspect the property for any broken items such as light and plumbing fixtures and replace as necessary. Old and faulty plumbing and electrical can lead to major problems when left untouched. While updates and other maintenance can cost varying amounts, it will most likely be cheaper in the long run as deferred maintenance typically leads to larger (and more costly) problems later on.
In the case that tenants are occupying a property the sooner that repairs can be completed the better. The general rule of thumb within the property management industry is to handle major repairs within 24 hours if possible and respond within 48 hours for minor repairs. Don’t forget to give the tenant advance notice to allow the repairs to be made. Once a problem with the property is reported by the tenant try your best to keep the tenant apprised of updates regarding the repair.
While state and local laws vary, the general responsibilities state that a landlord must maintain housing that satisfies basic habitability requirements. Water, electricity, heat, and sanitary living conditions are all required. Depending on the state, a tenant has a variety of options should a landlord not make the required repairs to the rental property. Some of the options may include paying less rent, hiring someone to handle the repair and then deducting the costs of repair from the rent, moving out, or not paying any rent until the problem is fixed. Court actions may be explored if the tenant feels the landlord has caused undue circumstances by not handling repairs to a property.
Another common rental property issue is dealing with problem tenants. While the vast majority of renters will pay their rent on time and care for the property, you are bound to come across a problem tenant. From not paying rent to trashing a house, and nearly everything in between a bad tenant can be a property manager’s worst nightmare. Evictions take time, money and knowledge as they are a process (and will vary from one state to the next). Not only does the paperwork need to be filed but also scheduling and appearing in court. If the court rules in your favor, then you are at the sheriff’s mercy for serving the eviction notice and hoping that once the tenant vacates the property it isn’t completely trashed. Property managers have a whole host of horror stories involved with tenant evictions from graffiti inside the house to cement poured in toilets and sinks. Rental property issues can run the gamut, but with a little forethought and work many problems can be mitigated or altogether avoided.