Preventative maintenance is crucial for the return on investment (ROI) you earn on your Santa Rosa investment property because it saves you money. When you have a good preventative maintenance plan in place, you can expect that:
- You’ll protect the condition and value of your investment property.
- You’ll avoid or at least limit expensive emergency repairs.
- Your property will be more attractive to tenants, reducing vacancy loss and increasing rental value.
All of that means more income and fewer expenses.
Without preventative maintenance, you’re at risk for deferred and emergency repairs, which are always more expensive and frustrating than those proactive inspections and service calls.
Routine preventative maintenance work at your property can give you an idea of where you need to focus your maintenance efforts. They help you plan for upgrades and updates. They keep your tenants happy.
Here are some of the things we focus on when we’re taking care of preventative maintenance at the Santa Rosa rental homes we manage, and why it matters so much to ROI.
Preventative Maintenance is Easy to Budget for
Preventative maintenance covers a lot of ground when it comes to repairs, inspections, and seasonal work at your property. Fortunately, you know when it’s scheduled and you know when those bills will come due. It’s easier to budget for fixed expenses than for variable expenses.
Those variable expenses are found in emergency repairs and unexpected replacements. Preventative maintenance makes sense because you know how much it will cost you. There’s less guesswork and ultimately, lower bills.
Start with the minor and routine services such as:
- Pest control
- Air filter changes
Ongoing contracts can be set up with local companies to take care of insects, filters, and lawn care. Then, you can move on to larger preventative needs such as HVAC and roofing inspections.
Schedule your preventative services before schedules get busy for your contractors. Most repair calls concern heating in the winter, air conditioning in the summer, and then leaks, drips, or plumbing issues all year long. When you already have these service contracts in place with vendors and providers, you’ll be in a much stronger position.
Identifying Preventative Maintenance Needs in Santa Rosa Rental Homes
Preventative maintenance is meant to save money and protect the value and condition of your property.
There are two obvious places to start, and these are the places that often cost you the most money when repairs are needed.
- Service Inspections for HVAC Units
Furnace replacements will cost you thousands of dollars. Repairing an air conditioning unit is also expensive. These emergency repairs cost more than maintaining the HVAC system from year to year with an annual inspection and a solid service contract with reputable technicians.
Fewer surprise repairs will save you money. Work with a local HVAC company that will send someone out every year to do a thorough inspection of all heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in your rental home. This will keep the HVAC running efficiently. It will extend the lifespan of that system, and save you money now and later.
Well-maintained HVAC systems operate more efficiently. And, when you have that annual contract with an HVAC company, you can usually expect discounts when something breaks or needs attention outside of their routine visits. You’ll have that relationship in place already, which will help if there is an emergency at your rental home that needs attention.
- Preventative Plumbing Inspections
Water intrusion of any kind is never good for rental properties, whether we’re talking about leaks under the sinks or sewer issues, or a breach in the roof. A slow leak may seem minor, but if it’s ignored for too long, you can find it quickly becomes a plumbing disaster. Conduct routine inspections where you check under sinks and caulk toilets and tubs.
Plumbers recommend you drain your hot water heater every year. This will prevent rust and sediment exposure, which deteriorates the tank faster. If you’re willing to drain it annually, you can get more years of service out of it, saving you the cost of a new water heater every few years.
While you could hire a plumber to come and flush the water tank, it’s not too difficult for you to do it on your own. It simply requires that you drain all the water out of it. If you’re not comfortable doing it, contact a plumber and set up a service contract.
Make sure you’re also checking your irrigation systems and sprinklers.
Partner with Your Tenants for Cost-Effective Preventative Maintenance
Tenants should be expected to help you maintain your property.
They’re your partners. While repairing and replacing broken items is your responsibility, it’s up to your tenants to tell you when something’s wrong. This is one of the reasons you want to make sure you have great tenants in place.
Share your expectations early, and reinforce them throughout the lease. Tenants need to know that all repair issues should be brought to your attention right away. You don’t want them waiting to report things or ignoring minor problems. You can also make your tenants responsible for things such as changing air filters.
It should be clear in your lease agreement what the responsibilities are for the tenant and the owner when it comes to preventative maintenance. Your lease agreement should also reference preventative maintenance inspections, which should happen annually. You want your residents to be prepared that you’ll come to the property once a year to take a look around and make sure there aren’t any potential issues.
Save Money with Preventative Maintenance Inspections
When you take your time to screen tenants thoroughly and you’ve worked hard to develop a positive and professional relationship with them, you don’t have to worry that they’re not taking care of your property. You expect that things are looking great in your rental home.
Conducting a preventative maintenance inspection every year, however, is a good way to verify your assumptions and manage the condition of your property.
Annual preventative maintenance inspections can save you money by helping you catch issues early. They should be done annually, at minimum. If you have a tenant who seems to let things slip and doesn’t always report repair needs, you may want to get inside the property twice a year.
Always provide your tenant with at least a 24-hour notice period in writing that you expect to conduct a walk-through of the property. In California, you’re not permitted to show up for an inspection for no reason. You can walk through the property as part of a preventative maintenance check, but you must let your tenants know in advance. Include this in your lease agreement as well.
Once you’re at the property, check the systems we discussed earlier:
- Look at the HVAC
- Check for leaks and drips under sinks and behind toilets
- Test the appliances, faucets, locks, and lights.
You can also use this as an opportunity to make sure the tenant is abiding by the terms of the lease. Talk to your tenant and make sure they have everything they need to take care of the property.
Preventative Maintenance Attracts Vendor Discounts
To save money and set up an effective preventative maintenance plan, you’ll need a reliable team of vendors. If you’re working with a Santa Rosa property management partner, you won’t have to worry about finding the right vendors. You can leverage the relationships your management team already has in place.
But when you’re managing and maintaining your Santa Rosa property on your own, you need to put some effort into creating a list of licensed and insured vendors and contractors who are committed to caring for your investment property.
Listen to the advice and recommendations these professionals provide. They’ll often have great ideas on how to keep costs down. When you find a vendor you like, see what types of preventative maintenance service contracts they offer. It’s a great way to earn discounts and better pricing on the routine maintenance you’re eventually going to need.
Stay up to date with your insurance policies, as well. This is part of preventative maintenance. You’re trying to avoid the costly breakdowns of systems and appliances, but unexpected situations can and will occur. A tree could crash onto a roof. A fire could start in the kitchen. Make sure you’re covered.
Think about renter’s insurance as well. Accidents happen, and tenants can cause considerably more damage than normal wear and tear. Instead of relying completely on your own insurance policy, require the tenant to provide evidence of either liability insurance or renter’s insurance which includes liability and insurance for the tenant’s personal possessions.
Preventative maintenance is a topic that covers a lot of ground. There are several good reasons to prioritize it, and saving money is definitely one of them.
If you’d like some additional help in putting together a preventative maintenance plan for your Santa Rosa rental property, we’d love to talk with you. Please contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.