Maintenance is an important part of owning property. Whether you live in the property or you rent it, keeping a home in good condition is vital to maintaining the value of the property. Maintaining the property involves minor tasks like cleaning the carpets and checking on smoke detectors.
What Property Managers Do
The main purpose of property maintenance is to keep the value of a building. Property owners, who are also called landlords, do not always have time to take care of their buildings as they are busy dealing with other tasks. So, owners hire property managers to take care of office tasks that include collecting rent and interacting with tenants.
Property managers hire companies to help with maintaining the building and the grounds. Since property managers are not always on site, they have to field calls from tenants and direct those calls to the right person.
How to Become a Property Manager
Property managers should be good communicators who listen well, speak fluently, and write clearly. They should also be able to maintain financial records for the landlord. They also need to be able to juggle the needs of tenants, schedule routine tasks, and take care of emergencies, too.
Property managers do not need a college degree, but some landlords prefer them. It is helpful if property managers have experience working with building mechanics and managing people. There are licensing programs for property managers that are required for people who want to work in public housing.
Why Regular Maintenance Matters
Landlords and property managers can do some maintenance on their own, but some will need to be performed by service companies. Keeping properties maintained is important not just for the value of the home, but to prevent accidents from happening. No property owners want to deal with lawsuits from preventable slips and falls, fires, or other accidents.
There are several benefits to keeping properties in good condition. When property managers develop a schedule of maintenance tasks, good things can happen. They include
- Properties increase in value
When you decide to sell a property that has been properly maintained, buyers are more likely to spend more on it. On the flipside, properties that need excessive amounts of work to bring them to code or to a liveable state are difficult to sell and often lose value.
- Tenants stick around
Tenants who are happy do not want to move. No property owner wants an empty building, so happy tenants make owners happy, too. When the property is in good condition and everything functions, tenants do not want to move. Rent keeps coming in and everything is good.
- Increased rental rates
When a property is in good condition, owners can often ask for higher rental rates. Tenants who appreciate buildings that are maintained are usually willing to pay more to live in a nice place.
- Decreased insurance costs
If you want to lower your insurance rates, keep your property in good condition. If you want to increase your insurance costs, make more claims. No insurance company wants to pay medical bills for accidents or deal with lawsuits based on falling debris or other problems. Do yourself and your budget a favor by keeping up on all types of maintenance tasks.
Creating a Maintenance Checklist
Property owners who want to keep their buildings in good condition should build a checklist. The items on the list should include annual, seasonal, and monthly tasks. For example, if you live in an area that has all four seasons, you will want to schedule tasks that are necessary for specific seasons.
Tasks for the Spring
In the spring, property managers should schedule air conditioning inspections. Sprinkler systems should be opened in the late spring before regular watering is needed. Spring is also a good time to check for water damage from roof and basement leaks. Since pipes have issues in cold weather, it is wise to check for leaks from pipes that are near exterior walls.
Water leaks can do serious damage that is more expensive than repairing pipes and roofs. When inspections are scheduled, problems can be dealt with before they become emergencies. Taking care of leaks early can help prevent mold from building up, too.
Property managers should change the filters in the furnace to keep the air flowing properly. They should also be changed in the other seasons, too. To keep track of this routine task, property managers should schedule a filter change on the first official day of each season.
Tasks for the Summer
Property managers should take care of the building’s exterior when the weather is warm. Scheduling an exterior pressure washing will remove mold and mildew and keep the siding looking nice. Gutters should also be cleaned at least once in the summer.
After cleaning the siding and gutters, property managers should hire someone to clean public areas like decks and cement. If you have to rent a pressure washer, try to get all of this done before it has to be returned.
It is also wise to check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. This is something that should be done on the first of summer and again on the first day of winter. This safety issue cannot be ignored.
Tasks for the Fall
As the weather cools, property managers should schedule a time to close the sprinkler system. This should be done before the first hard freeze.
Before winter rolls around, it is also wise to flush the water tank to keep it running at its best. This only needs to be done once per year. Along with cleaning the water tank, property managers should also clean sinks in every apartment or office. This keeps them from clogging and creating emergencies.
Hiring Property Maintenance Service Providers
Some property owners will use maintenance service providers. This way, property owners can deal with other tenant issues and be more productive on office tasks. Property owners need to be sure that the property management company knows their expectations so that they keep tenants happy and stay within budget.
Property maintenance companies need to be prepared for calls from tenants at all hours of the day and night. These calls could be for urgent needs like overflowing toilets. When these needs are not dealt with, they can become expensive to clean and repair. They can also make tenants look for new apartments.
To keep tenants happy and to keep the property in good condition, property maintenance companies need to be sure they are getting jobs done. Tenants need to know that their issues are being cared for, so the maintenance providers need to be able to deal with phone calls and delegating tasks.
Using Software and Apps to Track Tasks
To be sure that tasks are completed, property maintenance companies can use apps that let tenants enter requests for tasks and follow the status. Renters appreciate being able to make the requests themselves rather than making phone calls, hoping someone will answer, and wondering when the problem will be fixed.
Another way that owners can be sure their service providers keep up on maintenance tasks is to use scheduling and tracking software. With calendars as their base, tracking software informs maintenance people when a routine task needs to be completed. Then, property managers can check off the task when it is completed.
When tasks are scheduled through software, it ensures that routine tasks are completed. Messages inform the parties when something needs to be done and when it is completed so it is possible to keep close tabs on all tasks.
Property managers also need to be able to pay their service providers and contractors. Software and apps give managers the information they need to pay for services and monitor their expenses, too. Software lets managers use their time for more important tasks and remove the possibility of errors.
Paying for Maintenance
Property managers need to develop a budget for their tasks. There are a few ways to set up a budget based on basic formulas. These are the different formulas:
- Property Value Formula
This formula takes the value of the property and finds one percent of it. The dollar amount is how much should be spent annually. Break this down to a monthly value by dividing the 1% by 12. For example, if you have a building worth $400,000, the one percent value is $4,000. If you divide that by 12, the property manager should spend $333 per month on maintenance.
- Square Footage Formula
This formula takes the square footage and assigns $1 to each foot. For example, if you have a building that is 3,000 square feet, you should expect to pay $3,000 annually for maintenance.
- Rental Cost Formula
The other formula is based on the cost of the rent. Whatever you are charging for rent, you should expect to pay 1.5 times the value of the rent. So, if you are charging $2,000 for the monthly rent, you should pay $3,000 in annual maintenance.
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