Maintenance and repair costs can eat quickly into any landlord’s income, especially first-time landlords that don’t adequately protect themselves. If you’re looking for some ways to reduce your overall maintenance and repair costs, you’ll need to plan things through from the very beginning.
Starting out on the right foot.
Tenant-proofing a home is a lot like child-proofing a home. You need to consider every aspect of your property and how it could break through poor care or a lack of maintenance. Reflect back on your college days and how you treated your first apartment. Every landlord has tenant horror stories, and you don’t want to become one of them. To avoid significant damage, put durable materials into the rental unit from the very beginning. There’s a reason why most rental units favor carpet: it’s cheap, long-lasting and easily replaced.
Don’t forget the background check.
The tenants that cause the most damage are usually repeat offenders. There are many people that make it a habit to move from place to place, trashing the property and losing the deposit. A simple call to a previous landlord will usually tell you all you need to know, so don’t skip the process of calling references. Landlords — especially first-time landlords— tend to trust people a little too much, but everyone knows a sweet guy or girl that’s a complete mess at home.
Get appliance warranties or appliance insurance.
There are many appliance repair companies that will insure all of the appliances within your home: dishwashers, refrigerators, microwaves, ovens and washing machines in particular. These repair companies will usually repair appliances on a short notice with a small deductible fee. If you have multiple properties, an appliance warranty company is the perfect way to manage repairs at a low cost. As an additional bonus, the expense will be deductible on your tax return.
Leave it to the professionals.
There are certain areas of rental upkeep that you simply can’t rely upon a tenant to do. Landscaping and roof maintenance are good examples of this. Instead of telling the tenant to do these things, hire a service and roll the cost into the rent. You can bill this as a benefit of the property while also saving money on your eventual repair costs when the tenant moves.
Don’t forget about pests.
A scheduled pest service is almost a requirement for those that are renting out single-family homes. Many tenants will not notice pests or simply won’t think anything of it, and could easily leave you with a complete infestation by the time they have departed. Pest control costs are very low compared to the amount of money they’ll save you in the long run, especially when termites are involved.
Step in when needed.
If you feel that something is wrong in your property, something likely is. Don’t forget that you do have the right to inspect your property, you simply need to give your tenant advanced notice. Small situations, such as leaks that go unreported, can eventually escalate into extremely expensive repairs.
There are some maintenance and repair costs that simply can’t be avoided, but fear not. Most of these costs can be deducted from your income on your taxes, thereby still saving you significant amounts of money. Remember that income is only one small part of being a landlord. In a stable market, you’ll also still be appreciating equity through the value of your property.
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