Most property management companies are very responsive to maintenance requests. But, with the real estate market still recovering, some may be guilty of neglecting things here and there. Let me be the first (but certainly not the last) to warn: Proceed at your own risk. Regular maintenance can help you avoid running around answering emergency maintenance calls.
The 5 types of Maintenance
- 1. Routine Maintenance – These are jobs that are assigned to be taken care of at regular intervals, either daily, weekly or monthly. Examples would include landscaping and cleaning.
- 2. Preventive Maintenance – Possibly the easiest to neglect, but changing that air filter and servicing the hot water heater can save you big money by identifying problems before they become emergencies.
- 3. Corrective Maintenance – When something breaks, you have to fix it. This type of maintenance can be the biggest drain on a manager’s time and, sadly, most often can be avoided by employing routine and preventive maintenance.
- 4. Cosmetic Maintenance – The pretty stuff, usually addressed during the “make-ready” period before a new tenant comes in.
- 5. Deferred Maintenance – If a property doesn’t have the funds available to perform certain repairs, they will defer the maintenance until a later date. Just don’t forget what was deferred. When those funds come in, that deferred maintenance should be the first thing you address or it could negatively affect the property value.
Make sure your maintenance staff knows what to look for and what needs to be tracked. And don’t forget to ask residents, they are around the property as much, and possibly more, than the maintenance staff. Residents will appreciate that you are taking a proactive approach just by asking, “Have you seen any maintenance issues that need to be addressed?”
Most Commonly Neglected Areas
- Roofs -This is a case where “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” just doesn’t hold water. It’s worth the time and money to perform an annual inspection rather than waiting to hear about a leak. If the inspector spots a trouble area, you’re only paying for roof repairs, and not replacing a resident’s property.
- Hot water heaters – Everyone loves hot water, right? An inspection only takes a few minutes, but can save you hundreds of dollar in repairs.
- Balconies – Between the sun, salt and torrential downpours, exterior surfaces in South Florida take a beating. Even concrete will wear down with years of exposure. Balcony work and repairs are regulated by the city, meaning that any work must be permitted and done by a licensed contractor, something that can be time and wallet intensive.
- Light Fixtures – Such a minor thing to inspect – it can take only a few minutes, depending on the size of your property – but can make such a difference for a property manager! Sufficient lighting not only prevents injuries, but can deter criminal activity.
Helpful Tips for Handling Maintenance Requests
Every tenant believes that their problem is the most important. Inadequate response (or a perceived inadequate response) to maintenance requests is one of the main reasons that tenants leave a property.
- Hire a maintenance manager – depending on the size of your property, having one person that is responsible for just maintenance requests can keep everyone organized.
- Make sure you have resources available to handle true emergencies. Not everything can be repaired immediately, but having alternative on hand will keep tenants happy and make you look like the hero, actively working towards a solution
- Follow up with the tenant after any work is done to get feedback.
Maintenance is an important part of property management, and a quick response and solid maintenance skills will keep your complex running smoothly.