Proper maintenance helps you retain the quality of your property and keep it in a habitable condition for a long time. It also saves you from high renovation costs. Smart landlords prioritize regular upkeep of their units as it attracts a great pool of tenants. However, committing maintenance mistakes can lead to damaged items or structures, causing costly repairs or early property depreciation. A good way to ensure that you don't go wrong with your property maintenance is to learn from the common maintenance mistakes made by many landlords in Los Angeles.
Take a look at some common maintenance mistakes that landlords make and how you can avoid them.
1. Lack Of Rigorous Inspections
Out-and-out inspections are significant to detect damages and keep track of the changes in your property. When you inspect these damages soon, you can repair them in time before their condition worsens.
However, when landlords neglect inspections or don't carry them out effectively, they invite losses. Some recurrent inspection mistakes that homeowners make are:
Ideally, routine inspections must be carried out once every 3-6 months. However, some landlords carry out inspections only twice a year or even less. This is a big mistake. After six months or so, if you examine your rental, expect to see significant damages or even broken items. Besides, when you bail out on inspections, the tenants will most likely stop taking cleanliness and maintenance seriously. They will be discouraged from playing their part responsibly in maintaining the home.
When you inspect the property, you must pay very close attention to every minute detail. Only then can the inspections make a difference. However, some homeowners examine their properties absent-mindedly.
They fail to detect damages like broken furniture, appliances, burnt carpet, unauthorized paint, or leaky roofs even after visiting the rental. They also miss out on temporary fixes made by the tenants to hide the damages, like moving furniture to hide the burnt carpet or knobs fixed with tape. This increases the chances of property damages and increases operational costs.
Choosing The Wrong Home Inspector
Many landlords mistake appointing a home inspector who charges the lowest fees just to save money, without checking if they are licensed, experienced, or understand their needs.
How can you avoid this mistake?
We recommend you take a few measures to avoid such errors and carry out fruitful inspections. Here are a few useful tips:
Prioritize Move-In and Move-Out Inspections
Detailed move-in and move-out inspections are crucial to document the condition of your property at different stages of leasing. It helps you easily identify tenant-caused damages. You can also deduct reasonable amounts from the security deposits for any tenant-caused damages, provided you have the essential documents.
Create Detailed Inspection Checklists
Move-in, move-out, and routine assessment checklists can make inspections much more convenient and qualitative. Make sure you unfailingly create these and make sure they are comprehensive and, preferably, in tabular formats.
Be extra careful while creating the move-in checklist. Remember, it can be used as a benchmark throughout all the inspections, so make it as detailed as possible. Ensure that it consists of an itemized list of the structure's condition, every item placed in every room, and specific remarks that depict their respective conditions. If any of the items are partially damaged, mention it in the checklist.
Document The Changes
As a landlord, you must be organized with your documentation. Note down every change that you notice. You can also click pictures and make videos for more accurate documentation. This way, you won't have to pay for the tenant-caused damages out of your pocket.
Work With a Licensed Home Inspector
Licensed contractors are trained to inspect properties in and out. They make detailed lists, document the changes with the help of essential tools, and mark changes accurately.
2. Assigning Work To Non-Professionals
Landlords often allocate work to unlicensed contractors who cause problems like:
Non-Compliant Structural Changes
Unlicensed contractors might not have the knowledge or the necessary resources to get permits for renovations. Any structural renovations like installing new fences, windows, plumbing, or siding that alters the footprint of your home need permits issued by local municipalities. You can't rely on unlicensed contractors for such tasks.
Unlicensed trade workers often fail to offer quality services. For instance, if you assign them a paint job, their labor associates may use low-quality paint, leave bubbles in the paint, or not do the required coatings, failing to leave a seamless finish. Or if you hand over electrical work to an unlicensed electrician, they might not take the essential measures for insulation, could use incorrectly sized wires, or overload outlets.
Handing over such responsibilities to unlicensed professionals who might not have the essential skills or equipment to carry out the task well is one of the biggest maintenance mistakes.
High Risk of Inexperienced Contract Labor
If the unlicensed contractors work with inexperienced workers, they could cause additional damages to the property, leading to an additional property renovation cost.
Besides, they do not have the indispensable insurance policies required to cover the costs of any erroneous tasks. Since they do not possess the essential equipment, the chances of accidents are higher. Hence, in case anything goes wrong on the site, it could grab a big bite from your savings.
In an attempt to further minimize the maintenance costs, some landlords take up the repair tasks themselves. This method is not just unreliable but also extremely risky. For instance, if you decide to fix a broken refrigerator on your own, you may end up breaking the warranty or worsening the problem, which could lead to physical injuries and deterioration of the property, adding to the inconvenience of tenants and resulting in vacancies.
How Can You Avoid This Mistake?
One of the most reliable ways to avoid this maintenance mistake is by hiring professional contractors. Take a look at how hiring professionals can make a difference and protect you and your investment.
Work With Licensed Contractors
Licensed professionals have fundamental insurance policies like general contractor liability insurance, professional liability insurance, and workers' compensation insurance. Construction, repair work, renovations, and electricals are very risky among all other contractor jobs. If there are any unfortunate events like accidents, physical injuries, half-done or improperly done tasks, or loss of labor wages, these insurance policies can cover the costs. You won't have to pay any extra charges for the contractor's mistakes, accidents, or any other unfortunate occurrences.
Also, check the contractor's license, reach out to their existing clients, and do satisfactory market research about their services before handing them over your property-maintenance tasks.
3. Delaying Maintenance
Not paying immediate attention to maintenance is undoubtedly one of the biggest maintenance mistakes. Some of the actions on the landlord's part that can lead to this mistake are:
Not Responding To Tenant Requests In Time
If you are handling your rental property by yourself, your prime responsibility is to respond to tenants' requests within 24 hours. If they call you for any urgent issues, you must respond, even if it is in the middle of the night.
If you neglect the repair-related concerns, With the intensified damages, the repair costs also increase. If you don't repair items like broken furniture, or appliances in time, they could break or stop working completely. Your repair costs will escalate, and your tenants will surely lose trust in you.
Not Acting Upon Inspections
After receiving the inspection reports, your job is to get the essential repairs done on priority. If you ignore the required changes, in a way, you abuse your property. When tenants see that you are not very concerned about timely maintenance, they also feel free to neglect their duties.
Ways To Avoid Such Maintenance Mistakes
You always have an opportunity to avoid such negligence and do what's right for your home. If you wish to keep your property in a good, desirable condition, you must prioritize the below-mentioned things.
Ensure that tasks like deep cleaning the carpets, sofas, mattresses, appliances, and pest controls are carried out at regular intervals.
Emphasize routine maintenance to avoid major rework. For instance, ensure that the smoke detector and the carbon monoxide batteries are changed every month and that the HVAC filters are changed every 90 days. One easy way is to divide the routine maintenance tasks monthly, quarterly, and annually.
Other Maintenance Mistakes That You Should Look Out For
Some other maintenance mistakes that can lead to early depreciation of the property or costly renovations are as follows.
Not Placing Qualified Tenants
You could place irresponsible tenants if you don't follow a stringent screening process or miss out on important aspects like checking tenants' rental history. Such tenants don't take their maintenance suits seriously and might as well abuse the home.
Not Specifying Clear Maintenance Terms in the Lease
The best way to ensure that your house is kept in good condition is to define the terms related to cleaning and describe the duties in detail in the lease agreement. Make sure you also mention the repercussions of failing to abide by the maintenance terms.
Managing maintenance on your own can be a demanding task and lead to costly mistakes. Instead, a better idea is to work with professional property management companies. They are skilled, trained, and know the significant aspects of maintenance. They are also associated with licensed contractors and can get qualified repairs done in a timely fashion. In a way, hiring a property manager is a full-proof way of avoiding common maintenance mistakes.
Work with the most trusted company in Los Angeles County, Bell Properties. We have been in the rental business for over 16 years. Our team always puts its best foot forward to keep your Los Angeles properties in tip-top condition.
If you would like to get help with your property maintenance, kindly get in touch with Bell Properties.