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Rental Property Upkeep and Maintenance Tips

HVAC technition working on air conditioning unit on roofWant to know the secret of those happy property owners who seem like they are on top of things? In many cases, it’s an adequate property maintenance budget and plan. They’re proactive, not reactive: experienced property owners know that a happy property takes work, but that preventative maintenance and upkeep can prevent significant crises. Whether you’re a first-time property buyer or a seasoned property owner, it’s time to take charge of your property. In this article, we’ll review the most critical aspects of a property maintenance budget and checklist.

Building your property maintenance budget

Most realtors and property experts agree that property owners should set aside between 1-2% of their property’s value annually as a budget for maintenance, upkeep, and repairs. The exact amount of the budget that you’ll use each year will vary based on several factors, including the climate you live in and how old your property is.

There are advantages to saving more than you need, however. Rental owners who build a rolling property maintenance fund have the cash-on-hand to address major repairs (such as fixing a cracked sewer line) or replacements (having a new furnace installed). Doing this helps you avoid having to pay for such projects with financing or a line of credit. Or, they have the option to reinvest a portion of the rolled-over savings back into the property and make value-boosting upgrades, such as remodeling their kitchen or bathroom.

Plumbing maintenance and upkeep

If you’re like most property owners, you probably don’t give much thought to your property’s pipes and plumbing. They are just there. However, proactive owners should strive to stay on top of plumbing maintenance and upkeep.

One important place to direct your focus is your water heater. Generally speaking, water heaters last about 8-12 years. However, you can extend the life of your tank water heater by having a plumber replace the sacrificial anode rod about midway through the system’s lifespan. The anode rod attracts corrosion away from the interior tank walls but eventually is spent—replacing it is an inexpensive way to get more years out of the water heater.

While the plumber is there, have them show you how to check both the water temperature and pressure relief valve. High water temperatures waste energy and put additional stress on the tank. At the same time, a faulty relief valve can allow pressure to build up to unsafe levels—putting the water heater at risk of a flood-causing tank burst.

If you live in an area with hard water, talk to a plumber about your water softener options. Over time, hard water can shorten the life of appliances and even cause scaling to build up inside of your property’s pipes. A water softener is an upgrade that simultaneously boosts the value of the property and helps protect it against future plumbing issues.

Keep your HVAC systems running right

Now that you have established a property maintenance budget, you should allocate some of that money to preventative maintenance for different aspects of your property. Your HVAC systems—your air conditioner and furnace—are the most significant investments in your property outside of the structure and the roof. They’re also essential to your comfort inside the property and have an outsized impact on your monthly energy bills. In other words, you must take care of your HVAC systems so that they can last longer, run better, and operate more efficiently.

Call a local HVAC company in your area and schedule a spring tune-up for your air conditioner and a fall tune-up for your heating system (if you have a heat pump that provides your property with both cooling and heating, have it looked at twice per year). A professional checkup helps ensure that your system is ready for the season ahead and that it is operating at maximum efficiency, which in turn reduces the wear-and-tear the unit experiences in the summer or winter.

Bring in the right professionals for the job

If you care about your property, make sure you hire the right people to work on it. Whether you are having shingles replaced or getting a new room added to your property, only trust true professionals who are licensed and certified in their respective fields. Too many property improvement and maintenance horror stories start with the property owner not doing their homework on a “professional” or a company. The people you hire matter: read online reviews, ask the company for references, and talk to your neighbors about who they have worked within the past.

There are many aspects of property maintenance and upkeep that you can take on yourself. Repainting interior walls or cleaning out gutters are perfect examples of agenda items property owners can tackle on their own. But, know your limits and—when there is doubt—call in a professional. After all, that’s why you have a property maintenance budget.

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