If you purchase a brand new rental property, you may have warranties for a year, and you can rest easy for a while on the repair and maintenance front. However, as almost all rental properties are existing homes or apartments of varying ages, we must consider the fact that regular maintenance and emergency repairs will be a part of our management responsibilities.
The planning for maintenance and repairs begins before the purchase. The real estate investor must make a thorough inspection of the condition of subject properties, calling on professionals when necessary. If you don’t know a lot about roofs, then get a pro to inspect the roof to give you an idea of the life left in it, as well as what it will cost to replace when the time comes.
The same holds true for plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and other high cost mechanical and structural components. What looks like a bargain purchase price may be a nightmare in hiding when the systems begin to malfunction or break down long before you expected. Unexpected major repairs have taken all of the early positive return out of many a real estate investment.
The key is to make a thorough and reliable assessment of the condition of a property before purchase. This includes a realistic estimate and time schedule for expected repairs. We can’t avoid surprises, but we can certainly minimize them with better up-front inspection practices.
So, we’ve done all of that, and we have closed on our new rental four-plex. All is going well, and a major plumbing break floods a portion of one of the units. Remember that this is your tenant’s home, and you need to respond with concern and speed to the problem. Though your rental agreement and state laws may spell out your duties and liabilities, going above and beyond to help alleviate the problems this has caused for your tenant is usually well worth it.
Rarely has the low bid been proven to be the best when it comes to response and quality in repair contractors. One of the things you should do early on is to develop a relationship with trustworthy repair contractors with good references. Have their contact information ready at work and at home, and don’t draw out their payment if the job is completed satisfactorily. You’ll need them again.