The only thing worse than a running toilet is a running toilet, a broken refrigerator, and damaged gutters—all at different homes you’re responsible for.
Owning multiple investment properties was supposed to be your ticket to easy money and the easy life. After all, isn’t earning passive income supposed to be a passive process? But, unfortunately, handling even basic maintenance on multiple properties can be logistically and financially problematic if you don’t have a good plan in place. Add in spontaneous breakdowns and repairs, and your side hustle could end up being your main headache.
Here are our top five tips on how to handle maintenance on multiple properties.
Create a Property Maintenance Plan
When it comes to taking care of multiple properties, a proactive approach is the best way to begin. All homes, apartments, and other rentals will need regular and basic care. From the roof to the basement, you should be familiar with your properties’ needs and how frequently they are required. For instance, lawn care is a regular need through the summer months. But hot water heaters should only need replacing every 8–12 years.
Use a checklist to map out all the maintenance your multiple properties may need. Then create a rotating schedule for your properties, so that each is properly taken care of. It’s important to handle all the regular weekly, seasonal, and annual maintenance before your tenants are forced to make a request. That will cut down on the amount of communications you need to respond to, and it may cut down on tenant turnover, as well. As you can, make a proactive plan for all the larger issues, systems updates, and appliance replacements that will need to be addressed over time. Replacing an aging air conditioning unit before the summer heat wave kicks in could save you money in the long run.
Have a System to Process Maintenance Requests (and Emergencies)
Even with a great checklist, additional maintenance issues are bound to come up. Having honest, cooperative, and trustworthy tenants in place can certainly save you some headache in the long run. However, refrigerators die, toilets back up, and tree limbs come down—it’s just a fact of property ownership.
When unexpected issues arise, make sure tenants know the best way to report them to you. If you’re managing a small number of properties, giving them your direct number could give you both peace of mind that serious issues will be addressed quickly. If you have many properties, an online form may be the best way to go. Make sure both you and the tenants have a clear idea of whether the issue is an emergency, and of how long the maintenance will take to complete.
As a property manager, your top priority should be keeping everyone in the building safe and keeping your property maintained. Ignoring requested repairs or putting them off can open up liability issues and drag down the value of your investment.
Put a Tenant Turnover Plan in Place
It’s rare to have a perfect, quiet, paying tenant who stays in a rental for decades on end. As the number of properties you manage increases, so will your need for an organized tenant turnover plan. First of all, you’ll need a marketing strategy for advertising the vacant home or apartment. Mashvisor advises, “The way in which you present your rental property plays a role in receiving more applications; thus, it’s important to make it as appealing as possible.”
Second, how quickly can you assess the property and effectively make any repairs? As the property owner, you’re responsible for making the property rentable again. Having a consistent and repeatable process could save you valuable time and money. There should be a list of “givens” that you do before every property is re-rented. But what about the additional maintenance? Having an accurate record of updates, repairs, and deferred maintenance will better prepare you should a renter challenge a deduction. Don’t forget: no tenants means no rental income. Efficiency is key during this interim period.
Schedule Regular Visits
If you own one rental property, or just a few, it could be you cutting the grass and cleaning the gutters and changing the air filters each season. But as your investment portfolio expands, you may take on help—contracting out yard work and hiring property managers to handle maintenance requests. Whether it’s you or your staff, it’s important to schedule regular visits to each property, independent of any issues or requests.
Showing you care about your properties will have ripple effects. Tenants will show greater respect for the property if you and your staff are regularly visible. You and your staff will develop stronger relationships with the tenants, increasing perceived customer service, and perhaps they will choose to stay in place longer. Plus, you’re more likely to spot potential hazards and maintenance issues before they become disasters if you’re more engaged with the property.
Get Professional Help
All plans and processes you may have in place mean nothing if the repairs never get done. No matter your skill level, one day, you’re going to need some help. Start forming positive relationships with professionals in a variety of fields: electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, handymen, roofers, landscapers, locksmiths. When an emergency happens that’s outside your field of expertise, a natural disaster occurs that affects multiple properties at once, or even if you just need a hand while you’re out of town, you’ll be glad to have those relationships. Having a great insurance policy and a REALTORⓇ you trust never hurts, either!
Help Starts with NAI Beverly-Hanks
There are many advantages to owning multiple investment properties. Once you have your maintenance process in place, building your portfolio should be a breeze. But if you have any hiccups along the way, we’re here to help!