For property managers the to-do list of daily tasks can seem endless. While this is a known fact for industry professionals, owners may not realize just how intertwined property management and rental maintenance are. Maintenance is one of the biggest expenses for landlords and managers play an important role in coordinating and mitigating these repairs. Rental maintenance is directly linked to tenant satisfaction and retention along with the preservation of an owner’s valuable investment. So, what can property managers do to ensure efficient maintenance processes? Join us below as we review some best practices for effectively managing rental maintenance.
5 Steps for Managing Rental Maintenance
A typical day for a property manager involves inspections, phone calls, emails, follow-up, customer service, and coordination. While unexpected repairs can throw anyone off course, staying organized, efficient, and proactive is the key to success. So, check out the 5 essential steps to managing rental maintenance below.
- Understand Your Responsibilities
- Efficiently Track and Mitigate Expenses
- Schedule Routine Inspections
- Promptly Respond to Repair Requests
- Prioritize Preventative Maintenance
Understand Your Responsibilities
Part of being a successful property manager is knowing which laws and regulations apply to rentals in your area. After all, this knowledge is a big selling point for owners who do not have the time or desire to keep up with changing regulations themselves. In general, a rental must maintain certain standards of habitability to operate legally. As an industry professional, it is important to communicate these needs to the owner to ensure legal compliance.
Efficiently Track and Mitigate Expenses
Excessive repairs can quickly cause an owner’s profits to disappear. Therefore, a key role for property managers is to mitigate maintenance expenses. So, with a focus on keeping costs under control and the property operating efficiently, check out these tips below –
- Proactive Prevention – Staying on top of regular maintenance helps control costs and prevent potential issues from occurring down the road. So, periodically conduct inspections to confirm lease compliance and address any unreported maintenance concerns.
- Foster Relationships – Whether you have access to in-house maintenance or not, building relationships with solid vendors is vital. After all, these are the people you turn to in an hour of need.
- Tracking Expenses – For property owners, every dollar counts. Therefore, a property manager needs to track and verify all invoices and itemized repair orders carefully. For larger repairs, getting multiple estimates can help owners make the most financially sound decision.
Schedule Routine Inspections
Throughout the lease, managers must complete several inspections. Typically, these inspections check in on the property condition, address any unreported repair needs, and allow for routine maintenance. In addition, move-in and move-out inspections help property managers determine tenant damage and potentially deduct from the deposit. Disputes over security deposits and damages can be a major source of conflict. Therefore, create and use a detailed checklist along with photos or video to thoroughly document the property condition. In addition, let the tenant know at move in you will schedule a semi-annual property check. Then, when the time comes, give a minimum of 24 hours’ notice to the tenant as they have a right to be present for any inspection.
Promptly Respond to Repair Requests
Maintenance emergencies can happen at any moment – day or night. Therefore, processes to handle all sorts of requests 24/7 is vital for a property manager’s success. While some repairs require an immediate response, all requests must receive timely acknowledgment of some kind. Managing rental maintenance well relies on organization and strong vendor relationships. These relationships allow you to call on vetted and experienced vendors to handle any type of repair. Whether it is a burnt-out light fixture or a burst pipe, communication is key. So, always keep tenants informed of your progress and anticipated actions along the way. Even if it takes a few days to complete larger repairs, tenants will appreciate knowing someone is working diligently on a solution.
Prioritize Preventative Maintenance
One of the best ways to minimize expenses is through preventative maintenance on major systems like HVAC, plumbing, or water heater. Regular routine maintenance can also include seasonal tasks such as cleaning gutters annually to prevent water leaks or costly damage. So, it is helpful when property managers take a proactive approach by building a schedule and setting up reminders to ensure nothing is missed. Alternatively, if owners agree, setting up maintenance contracts with major system vendors is a great option to keep everything operating at peak performance year-round.
Why is Managing Rental Maintenance So Important?
By maintaining a rental property well, owners can experience fewer emergency breakdowns and a better chance at retaining satisfied tenants. That said, there are several other reasons why effectively managing rental maintenance is essential. Showing tenants that owners care about the home’s condition helps attract quality applicants who in turn will also care for the unit. Check out some of the other reasons why property managers should keep up with routine rental maintenance below.
- Retaining Home Value – Rentals face more wear and tear than a traditional home. That said, preserving the property through routine or timely maintenance helps the property retain value.
- Better Renewal Rates – Maintenance is a leading cause of disputes between landlords and tenants. So, simply by taking care of the property, landlords can avoid dissatisfied or disgruntled tenants and lead to more positive renewal rates.
- Reduced Maintenance Costs – Effectively managing rental maintenance can lead to reduced annual costs by handling small issues before they become emergency breakdowns.
- Less Turnover Time – Turnover involves preparing a unit for new tenants once the previous tenant vacates. However, if a unit is in poor repair, the turnover process can take much longer and costs can add up quickly. In addition, longer turnover means money lost in vacancy. So, it is easier to keep up with repairs throughout the lease.
Tips to Improve Communication Over Rental Maintenance
For rental managers, clear and professional communication is a necessary and vital skill. Landlords must communicate efficiently to obtain vital details in a variety of situations, including maintenance repairs. Furthermore, property managers are the go-between for owners and tenants. Therefore, being able to keep everyone informed is critical. However, in today’s modern age, communication can come in many different forms such as phone calls, texts, emails, faxes, and in-person interactions. So, check out a few suggestions below to improve communication when managing rental maintenance or other tasks.
Communication Tips for Property Managers
- Accommodate Different Forms – Nowadays, everyone has a specific way they like to communicate, and they have the technology to have many options. So, to reach tenants and owners efficiently, property managers must be flexible and willing to utilize the individual’s preferred contact method. Not only is it convenient for them, but it will also ensure the property manager gets the fastest response.
- Listen to Understand – Property managers face many high-stress situations and adopting active listening skills is critical. Even if tenants are frustrated, upset, or stressed, the manager must remain calm and ask questions to clarify details and repeat concerns while expressing empathy. As a professional, part of the job is being able to deescalate disputes, pacify fears, and keep all parties informed.
- Watch Your Tone – No matter the type of communication, be it over the phone or in written form, tone is important. Even as an expert in your field, relatability is typically the best way to connect with tenants. After all, tenants just want to feel their concerns are taken seriously. Therefore, remain calm and professional at all times.
- Honesty is the Best Policy – Sadly, it is often the property manager that must deliver unpleasant news. While you may think sugar-coating is the way to go – it is not. That said, difficult conversations demand tact, honesty, and empathy. So, do not beat around the bush and be upfront with clients to reassure them of the steps being taken to remedy the situation.
Key Players in an In-Demand Industry
The real estate investment and rental industry is booming. However, as this becomes a more attractive way to earn passive income, the demand for qualified property managers is growing. Property managers assist owners and tenants in several ways which take most, if not all, of the pressure away from owners. Besides managing rental maintenance, property managers use their expertise to provide excellent customer service while helping maximize potential profits.
At Bay Property Management Group, our team of managers understands the unique maintenance needs rental properties face. Thanks to our network of in-house maintenance techs and relationships with third-party vendors, we stand ready to tackle any repair. By focusing on preventative measures, the managers at Professional Property Management of Northern Virginia help owners mitigate costs and keep their property looking its best. For more information on the benefits of full-service property management in Northern Virginia, give us a call today.