From collecting rent to facilitating repairs, as a property or community association manager, you juggle a lot when it comes to managing your business’ operations. Whether you oversee large-scale apartment buildings or single-family homes, property maintenance is essential to keep your property values up, and keep your residents safe and satisfied.
Here we’ll explain why it’s vital to stay on top of property maintenance, provide some useful tips, and show you how you can streamline your processes to provide a top notch customer experience.
Table of Contents
- Staying On Top of Property Maintenance
- How to Provide Superior Property Maintenance Service
- Maintenance Checklists by Season
- How to Hire the Right Maintenance Technician
- Advantages of Using a Property Management Maintenance Answering Service
Staying On Top of Property Maintenance
You already know how important maintenance is, however keeping up with it all can be challenging, which is why it’s important to have a property maintenance plan in place. When you don’t have a plan, upkeep can be easily overlooked, and the consequences can be costly and even dangerous.
Having a maintenance plan can help mitigate risk from potential hazards, such as injuries from falling building materials or fires from poorly wired lighting. No property manager wants to face claims of negligence in court, deal with skyrocketing insurance premiums, or experience bad press and negative reviews. To avoid serious problems, it’s essential to keep up with maintenance and take preventative measures.
Besides reducing the risk of property injuries for yourself, your team, vendors, and residents, having a good maintenance system in place can be a competitive differentiator when it comes to attracting and keeping residents. For instance, based on a survey conducted by AppFolio, renters who were not satisfied with their property management company reported issues around response and resolution time for maintenance requests as the most common reason why. 52.7% of renters said they would move out or not rent in the first place if dissatisfied with their property management company.
Here are a few more reasons why it’s vital to have a plan for property maintenance:
- Increased Property Value: A maintained property will hold value or increase in value. The lack of repairs will detract from the property’s market value and rental prices.
- Satisfied Residents: Poor maintenance of buildings, property, and appliances will generate dissatisfied residents, which can lead to negative reviews, increased churn, and more vacancies.
- Reduced Costs: An efficient property management system can help save money by minimizing risks, extending the life of appliances and equipment, and freeing up your team to focus on providing higher levels of service.
- Less Work: You already have plenty of work to do. By having a building maintenance system in place, you can reduce the time you spend contacting residents and owners, tracking work orders, manually entering data in other software, paying invoices, and dealing with emergencies.
How to Provide Superior Property Maintenance Service
Offering both residents and owners the benefits of outstanding maintenance provides you and your company with lots of benefits.
Still, achieving these benefits requires an ability to communicate with residents and stakeholders, manage work orders, budget for work and supplies, and stay on top of schedules. Here are 4 tips for providing superior property maintenance services:
Respond to Requests in a Timely Manner
You need a maintenance management system to make sure residents are satisfied by providing a convenient way to communicate with an issue. Residents also need assurance that somebody is getting the message and addressing their repair. A system that allows them to self-serve and submit their own requests, and even track their status online can make it easier for your team to respond in a timely manner.
Offer On-Call Maintenance
Residents will call in with problems that occur within their own units or common areas from time to time. However, some issues that occur off-hours, such as slippery ice on walkways or a serious plumbing leak, need to be addressed immediately. By having an emergency maintenance contact and on-call maintenance technician available at all times, you can communicate, handle, and track maintenance issues to keep your property safe and residents satisfied around the clock.
Conduct Routine Preventative Maintenance
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You should create a preventative maintenance schedule with specific tasks to perform on a monthly, seasonal, and yearly basis. Scheduled maintenance can prolong the life of valuable assets and minimize the chance of expensive, urgent repairs.
Effectively Track and Handle Expenses
As a property manager, you also have to make sure contractors get paid and expenses are tracked. Without an integrated maintenance software program, you may have to handle all of these tasks manually, which can take up a lot of your team’s time and lead to human error. An all-in-one system that has accounting features built-in can ensure your vendors are paid on-time and you never miss an invoice.
Maintenance Checklists by Season
One easy way to stay organized and on top of maintenance for your properties is to create a maintenance checklist for each season. Here are a few tasks you could add to your list depending on your property type:
- Check for weather damage to buildings made by snow, wind, and rain. Determine whether there is any serious or significant damage that needs to be fixed immediately.
- Have your property’s HVAC heating system inspected and cleaned. In addition, change all air filters on individual units to prolong the life of the system and maximize efficiency.
- Get a certified roof specialist to inspect the roofs of your properties for any damages or leaks.
Single-Family Homes and Condos:
- Check the gutters and downspouts for any clogs.
- Check for mold and mildew in the interiors, and use thermal cameras, if needed, to detect any cool spots between the floors and walls.
- Enhance your property’s landscaping with new flowers or shrubs.
- Inspect plumbing fixtures and systems and look for chipped grout and sealants that could lead to water damage. Don’t forget to inspect communal water fountains and public restrooms along with individual units.
- Service air conditioners, whether you have window air conditioners or central AC, be prepared to make repairs and replacements.
- Test smoke and C02 alarms, and recharge fire extinguishers to keep your residents safe.
Single-Family Homes & Condos:
- Clean window wells and gutters to ensure rain can flow freely.
- Address any gaps in windows, doors, and walls to reduce the prevalence of summer pests like ants and roaches.
- Keep the grass trimmed regularly and maintain landscaping and increase watering for the hotter summer months. Consider mulching garden beds to help conserve water and spruce up your property.
- Trim trees to keep weak or dying limbs from causing property damage during stormy weather.
- Inspect outdoor lighting, and make sure to adjust the settings with the longer days. Solar-lighting is a great, energy efficient option that requires little maintenance once installed.
- Pressure wash and repair deck and patio spaces, and clean any common areas to remove dust, dirt, or grime.
- Steam clean tile, wood, and carpet flooring and furniture of communal areas.
- Change the HVAC filters, thoroughly inspect the unit, and perform any routine maintenance to be sure the heater works properly for the coming winter months.
- Clean trash cans and replace any communal trash cans or recycling receptacles that may have been damaged over the summer months.
- Complete annual fire drills and safety checks with your residents.
- Check roofs of each building for leaks, obstructions, and wear and tear.
Single-Family Homes & Condos:
- Clean the chimney, check the flue, and inspect the grate and fire-screen to prepare for cold weather.
- Clean the gutters and down-spouts once again to remove any excess dirt or debris.
- Update your flower beds and containers with plant varieties that can withstand cooler temperatures.
- Clear your property of all dead leaves, weeds, and branches.
- Blow-out and turn off sprinkler and irrigation systems.
- Repair or replace any problematic HVAC systems now to avoid any issues as the season progresses.
- Inspect vacant units regularly to ensure there isn’t any snow build on the balcony or a burst pipe in the bathroom.
- If your building uses natural gas, be sure the furnaces are well-maintained and serviced.
Single-Family Homes & Condos:
- Clean gutters and address any concerns with the roof.
- Check batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Insulate water pipes near windows and doors to prevent them from freezing.
- Stock up on materials such as salt for walkways and driveways, and gasoline for snow blowers.
- Clear walkways of snow or ice, and salt surfaces to ensure residents are safe.
- Properly winterize pools depending on your location. For those in the North, you’ll need to winterize your pipes or drain the pool altogether.
- Ensure all trees have been properly maintained and trimmed to avoid any damage during a winter storm.
How to Hire the Right Maintenance Technician
Rather than hiring a contractor every time something needs to be fixed, or constantly having to check up on all your properties, it is often more cost-effective to hire a regular maintenance technician. Hiring an employee that you trust can make your job a lot easier, save you money, and ensure that your properties continue to run smoothly. Here are some tips for hiring the right maintenance technician without breaking the bank:
The first thing you need to do is make a thorough list of all the responsibilities that you would like your maintenance technician to handle. Many of these may be general, but it is also important to think about the unique needs of your properties to ensure that the employee you hire is properly qualified. For instance, if your property has an older boiler system, make sure you hire someone with experience with similar systems.
Being as specific as possible about the responsibilities and unique challenges of maintaining your property will allow you to find the best-matched employee possible. Furthermore, finding a technician with experience tailored specifically to your property cuts down on training costs and time.
Advertise & Interview
Once you’ve made a list of responsibilities, create a job advertisement and come up with a list of interview questions to ask candidates. The advertisements you put online should include any unique challenges about the position, so you don’t waste your time interviewing someone who can’t meet that need. If you are referred to any potential new candidates by someone you trust, make these individuals aware of the unique challenges as well — you don’t want to skip any steps in the process just because someone comes to you as a referred candidate.
Once you have a number of applicants, make sure you go through your entire list of questions in the interview process. Make the interview as specific and practical as possible, giving specific scenarios that may arise in your properties. Ideally, your maintenance technician will be able to manage your properties without your explicit approval for every little detail, so testing their decision-making skills during the interview process is important.
Qualities To Look For
You should be looking for someone with the right skills and experience to match your properties’ needs and someone you can trust to make sound, well thought-out decisions on their own when appropriate. The more responsibility and independence you believe a candidate can manage, the more work will be taken off your plate. This will also save you money in the future, by reducing your need for expensive contractors during urgent situations.
Advantages of Using a Property Management Maintenance Answering Service
When it comes to maintenance, you can benefit from contracting out almost all of the hard work involved in maintenance services for residents. With a service like AppFolio’s Maintenance Contact Center trained customer service agents can take calls, troubleshoot maintenance requests to mitigate problems, and dispatch approved vendors all on your behalf. Having professional maintenance experts available 24/7 allows you to have an extensive maintenance department without the startup costs or training delays. Meanwhile, residents, property managers, and all other stakeholders will have access to the requests, so that everybody can track the work order status.
Along with freeing up your team to focus on other tasks involved in managing properties and residents, here are a few more of the benefits of a using a maintenance answering service:
- Your residents can enjoy the convenience of self-serve maintenance requests and tracking.
- You will benefit from the ease of having automatic property maintenance services handled by people you can trust.
- Property owners, investors, and landlords will be happy to know that approved vendors will be dispatched to maintain their property’s value and reputation.
Since his business started using the Maintenance Contact Center, Mike Waller of Mission Property Group has been able to streamline operations and provide higher levels of service to his residents:
“The Maintenance Contact Center has been a huge game changer in how we handle maintenance call routing. I have spent much less time talking to people about maintenance, and having an intelligent human who has access to our database has proven to be wonderful.”
Maintenance is an integral part of every property manager’s job. When you prioritize regular, routine maintenance, you can mitigate risk, reduce costs, keep your residents satisfied, and increase the value of your properties. A property management software system that has mobile maintenance tools built-in — such as online maintenance requests and work orders — can allow you to resolve issues fast and keep your properties in tip-top shape.