Just like buying a new car, you are excited at the possibilities and rewards that you will get with ownership. Unfortunately, just like a new car, someday you’ll have to shell out for maintenance and upkeep – that’s the part that isn’t so much fun. Try these ideas and you’ll find it much easier.
Start your maintenance fund now. Be sure to aside enough money to cover the replacement of a new roof. It may be a while before that happens, but you’ll certainly need that money for other expenses. This will prepare you for the financial shock of a major appliance going bad or trees that need to be removed.
Set a time each month for inspection of your rental property. Thoroughly inspect the inside and outside and take notes of damage that the tenant might be responsible for.
Remember that anything you do to improve the property will help the resale value later, so don’t put off repairs. They’ll get more expensive later on, and you might avert a major catastrophe.
Your repairs are tax deductible, so keep good records. Major expenses can be depreciated over several years. You could use a yellow legal pad, or better yet a spreadsheet, but even more important, get a software program that can log your work orders, expenses, and then export to your accountant at the end of the year.
Your relationship with your tenant is very important in maintaining your property. Many tenants are willing to do work to keep their home looking nice, so work with them on providing materials in exchange for repairs.
Lastly, don’t think you can do it all by yourself. Use an expert to evaluate the property, looking for slab cracks, termites, bad wiring and other potentially disastrous problems. If you are handy with tools, take advantage of free DIY clinics at Home Depot and Lowes so you can learn to replace doorframes, install a new toilet and replace the vinyl in the kitchen.
Here’s to hoping you have a maintenance free investment property, but that is probably a pipe dream. However, if you do your homework and prepare yourself, you’ll save money and have a sense of pride and accomplishment in your rental property.
Paul Toller is a writer, real estate consultant and investor. He has been in the property management software business for over 25 years, and is a partner in the Tenant File (http://www.TenantFile.com).