No property owner wants to get that call from tenants- the one informing of a broken pipe, appliance or other mishap. Thinking you can handle most problems yourself is a common issue. There may also be confusion about who is responsible to pay for what. Let’s clear up some rental property maintenance myths:Rental Property Maintenance Myth #1: Do-it-Yourself Will Always Save Money Let’s face it, Maui is an expensive place to own rental property. Coupled with that, contractors are at a premium and can be very difficult to schedule. This may force some owners to tackle projects beyond their ability. What’s the worst that can happen, right? Wrong. Doing a repair wrong can be costly and dangerous.If you are handy, go ahead and take on regular maintenance items you feel comfortable with. It’s a great way to save money. For more complex projects, or things you may not be skilled in, such as electrical, plumbing or structural repairs, hire a contractor,If a project is done incorrectly, it may have to be redone sooner than normal. Repairs done wrong can cause a fire, flood or even a structural collapse. Also check if a permit is required. There are some really funky home additions on the island, which could invalidate an insurance claim or authorities may force you to remove the structure. So be realistic about your abilities, know what you can and can’t add and hire a professional when needed- it really does save money in the long run.Additionally, the time you spend trying to figure out a project and do it yourself may annoy the heck out of your tenants. Lack of proper maintenance is one of the key reasons cited by tenants leaving a self-managed rental property. Hiring a property management company may seem like an added expense, but if a manager keeps your property in good repair and minimizes vacancies, it makes the most long-term financial sense. If you are considering hiring a property manager, this article’s list of pros and cons may help.
Rental Property Maintenance Myth #2: Tenants are Responsible for Maintenance & Repairs Unless tenant are specifically required to perform maintenance tasks as part of their lease, they are generally not responsible for any regular maintenance other than things like changing light bulbs and batteries. Of course if a tenant has an accident or destroys something, that is different. They are responsible and the landlord should step in and work out a payment plan for repairs.
Scheduling a preventive maintenance inspection is a good idea. It not only helps keep up to date on how tenants are taking care of a property, it also is a chance to maintain items that protect your property, such as smoke detector batteries and the lint that builds up in the hose behind the dryer.
During a maintenance inspection, walk the outside of the property. Things to look for include ensuring foliage is kept away from the house, there aren’t any junk cars accumulating and faucets don’t have water leaks. Look around to address any problem areas now before they become a huge issue later.
Rental Property Maintenance Myth #3: Replacing vs Repairing The myth in this scenario involves extremes- it is not always practical to repair everything that breaks, and replacing an item is not always necessary. Practicality lies somewhere in the middle. One might repair a refrigerator that is otherwise in good shape, but if it continues to have problems, consider replacement. Weigh the age of the item and cost of the repair against the cost of replacement. If you have already spent $250 to repair the refrigerator, and you can replace it for $800, do you really want to sink another $250 into it? Is it nearing the end of its useful life?
A general rule of thumb is if an appliance is older than half of its expected lifespan, and the cost of the repair is over half the cost of replacing, then you should replace rather than repair.
When shopping for a replacement, don’t necessarily buy the cheapest or most expensive item. Ask the home improvement store personnel which ones they get calls for repair or returned most often. Have you seen high end computerized appliances on sale for huge discounts? A big box employee shared the line was having trouble with onboard computers. Often, the less electronics and moving parts the better, especially in Hawaii’s humid climate. You may be better off buying a plain Jane model of a quality brand.