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Maintenance and Upkeep: How to Stay Ahead of Repairs with Your Rental Property

Hello, property and potential property owners! Welcome to the RPM Distinguished Care blog, where we provide practical advice about property management. Every landlord has a vested interest in providing a safe, comfortable living environment for each and every one of their tenants. A tenant’s right to working fixtures and a landlord’s responsibility to repair issues on their property in a timely manner go hand-in-hand. However, there’s no rule which states a landlord must wait for a repair issue to arise before taking action. Today, we’ll assess how property owners can circumvent the break-repair cycle by being proactive. We’ll also showcase how, by implementing small measures regularly, you can save money and keep your tenants happy.


The Case for Preemptive Maintenance


While maintaining your rental property is one of your primary responsibilities, as a landlord, it’s also one of your biggest hassles. From issues as small as a broken handle to issues as large as a new roof, the onus falls on the landlord to shell out time and money. The routine we’ll detail today cannot prevent surprises, but it can make sure they are few and far between.


One of the leading causes of tenant turnover is poor maintenance. When issues arise and aren’t handled in a timely manner, tenants will often take matters into their own hands or withhold rent. Neither of those scenarios are optimal for you, the landlord. Conducting regular maintenance checks and having a plan for potential issues will save you and your tenants from some major headaches.


Creating a Schedule


Regardless of what exactly you’re addressing during your maintenance checks, they must be done with some amount of regularity. These time frames might be weekly, monthly, or annually. Below, we’ll go through a comprehensive list of aspects which will need to be a part of your routine maintenance.


  • Leaks/Water Damage

Depending on the climate in which your property is located, you may want to check more or less often. If your property is located in a rainy or snowy climate, you may want to consider scheduling a check for water damage every month and particularly after major storms. If your property is located in a dry or drought-ridden climate, you can easily schedule water damage checks for every three to six months.


Water damage can easily lead to outbreaks of mold, which neither you nor your tenants want. Avoid this by making this a part of your maintenance check.


  • Replacing Air Filters

Air filters need to be replaced at least once every ninety days. What happens if you don’t? Well, the air filter begins to fail, allowing dust particles into the A/C. These particles impede function and place undue stress on the machine. You don’t want your air system failing—especially in a hot climate or the summer months—because the air filters haven’t been replaced in a timely manner.


  • Testing Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This one is self-explanatory. A smoke or carbon monoxide detector serves a vital purpose. No one wants to be caught with a faulty detector in their moment of need. That’s why the alarm on a detector should be tested monthly. The batteries should be replaced once a year. The entire detector should be switched out for a new one every ten years.


Don’t know when your detectors were last installed? Better to be safe than sorry and begin another lifecycle by installing new detectors. This repair is relatively easy and if you’re a do-it-yourself landlord, you can knockout this project in one afternoon.


  • Checking/Spraying for Pests

Pests come in all shapes and sizes. They can be inconvenient guests in your rental property or a detriment to your tenant’s health. From termites to roaches, you can prevent an infestation by taking the time to schedule annual sprays. These sprays should be done around the entirety of the property in early spring. This is because as temperatures rise, bugs tend to breed faster. Keeping on top of these sprays will keep pests away and ensure a quality living space for your tenants. As well, scheduling checks every three months will ensure that, if there is a budding infestation, you can nip it in the bud.


  • Recaulking Showers and Bathtubs

Recaulking high-moisture areas in your property is something that can be done less frequently. We recommend caulking showers and bathtubs every one to two years. Don’t skip out on this repair as caulk can lose its adhesiveness over time and become ineffective. This leads to overgrowths of mold and mildew.


  • Tightening Handles, Knobs, Locks, and Faucets

Ideally, this step can be done during a monthly check. A quick jiggle will reveal any loose handles. A simple tightening can prevent having to replace an entire fixture down the line. This is the upside to being proactive—you’re saving yourself trouble.


  • Checking Fire Extinguishers

Similar to fire detectors, fire extinguishers are something you don’t want to be without in your time of need. There are often local or municipal fire codes which might have their own timeline for when fire extinguishers need to be replaced. But, if not, then every twelve years is a good rule of thumb. In the meantime, fire extinguishers should be checked every six months. If any part of the extinguisher is missing or damaged, it must be replaced. If the extinguisher has lost pressure, you might need to have it recharged at a fire equipment company or fire department.


  • Flushing Water Heaters

Lime and other sediments can collect in a water heater over time, eventually clogging the drain valve and decreasing the lifespan of a water heater. Periodically flushing your water heater will ensure you can keep using a water heater for the full length of its life. This flushing should occur once every six months. More often if your water is particularly hard.


  • Cleaning Gutters

There’s nothing more unattractive than gutters hanging off the side of a property. Gutters which have given under the weight of accumulated leaves will need to be reattached to the frame of the building. Certainly, reattaching gutters costs more than simply having them cleaned. Twice a year should suffice, unless your property is underneath or near to shedding trees; in which case, you should have your gutters cleaned every three months.


  • Trimming or Removing Trees

Rather than waiting for a branch to clip a powerline and send your property into perpetual darkness (at least, until the electrician arrives), you might try trimming trees which pose a threat instead. If your property is in an area where hurricanes and tornadoes are a regular occurrence, removing large trees which could threaten the structure of your property is ideal. Luckily, this is a process which might only be done once and then never again. Or, once a year, if you’re trimming branches.


  • Replacing Carpets and Painting Walls

Replacing carpets and painting walls might be something some landlords do every time a tenant moves out. However, that’s not technically necessary. Depending on how the tenant lived and the condition of the carpets and walls after they left, these repairs can be done every three years.




Conducting inspections is something you’re probably already familiar with as a landlord. Today, we’re emphasizing the importance of the routine inspection. These inspections are conducted alongside the tenant and should occur on a quarterly basis. Some municipalities even specify how often these inspections should take place, so be sure to check the codes for your local area. These inspections are a chance for your tenant to express any concerns they might have and inform you of any repairs which need to take place. This is also a chance for you to assess the property, ensure any rules or regulations are being followed, and plan for your next maintenance check.


Creating a Maintenance Budget


While implementing preemptive maintenance will save you money, repairs still require funds. The best way to be prepared for maintenance, both expected and unexpected, is to create a maintenance budget. There are two ways to set aside money for the maintenance of your property. The first is the 1% rule.


  • 1% Rule

The one percent rule is based around the total value of the property in question. For example, if your property is worth one million dollars, then you would set aside ten thousand dollars annually for maintenance. Now, this is a simplified equation. It doesn’t take into account the age of your property, which might affect the frequency of repairs. However, this is the best option for someone who wants to set aside one large chuck of money and not worry about how they’ll pay for repairs all year.


The second method is the 50% rule.


  • 50% Rule

The fifty-percent rule is based around the monthly rent of the property in question. For example, if your property is rented out at three thousand dollars a month, then you would set aside one thousand and five hundred dollars a month for maintenance. This method accounts for things like taxes and insurance, but requires the landlord to be fiscally conscious each month.


Following Up


Be sure to keep records of any repairs, including pictures and notes. As well, conducting a simple phone call or survey after the fact can help to ensure a tenant’s satisfaction.


How RPM Distinguished Care Can Help


We here at RPM Distinguished Care understand how time consuming and frustrating repairs can be. We also understand the importance of being proactive when it comes to repairs in order to save you money and keep your tenants happy. If you read through this article and thought, “I’m just one person. I don’t have time to do all of this,” we understand that, too. That’s why RPM Distinguished Care will handle your tenant emergencies, late night phone calls, and maintenance issues.


With Real Property Management Distinguished Care, your property is like our property. No hidden fees, only safeguards and guarantees. Up-front packages you can review and prepare for right here on our website! If you’d like more information on how we address and plan for maintenance, don’t hesitate to reach out. We are more than happy to assist you in setting up the perfect property management service for your properties. Protecting your investments is our priority!



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