Welcome to our first guest post from our friends at Latchel!
According to a recent survey, 60% of property investors say that maintenance is the biggest stressor in the business. If you’re a property manager or landlord, that’s no big surprise. Dealing with late-night calls, emergency issues, and vendor coordination can not only be a hassle and a huge time suck, but it can also be incredibly costly and affect the net operating income of your investments if not handled efficiently.
The average amount of maintenance that comes through per year is around three requests per unit. If you’re getting many more than that, there’s probably more you can be doing to cut down on overall maintenance volume.
The goal is to make these investments truly passive, so below are four ways you can cut down the costs of your rental property maintenance and increase net operating income.
1. Effectively Troubleshoot Every Maintenance Request that Comes In
If you talk to any general contractor, they’ll likely tell you that they’ve often been dispatched to do something as simple as flip a switch or push a ‘reset’ button, which can be frustrating for everyone.
Knowing how to troubleshoot maintenance requests and solve issues over the phone effectively can significantly reduce the costs of your maintenance operations by eliminating all unnecessary maintenance work orders.
On the flip side, ineffective troubleshooting in your maintenance operations can not only eat costs by unnecessarily dispatching a vendor, but it can also be a huge risk to the business when it comes to emergency maintenance. Identifying and solving emergency issues quickly can save you from a whirlwind of damages, and inaccurately doing so can lead to a long, expensive road of repair.
To ensure that your maintenance requests are being handled most efficiently and cost-effectively, make sure that your maintenance team knows both the difference between emergency and non-emergency maintenance and how to troubleshoot and resolve basic maintenance requests over the phone. Latchel offers an in-depth, step-by-step troubleshooting guide to all maintenance requests that can be solved over the phone.
Giving such a guide to tenants can also prevent any unnecessary requests from even coming through. If you’re using a call center to handle late-night requests, consider also giving them a basic troubleshooting guide to follow to avoid unnecessary dispatch.
2. Have a Preventative Maintenance Schedule
Preventative maintenance is the unsung hero of property management. Staying on top of preventative maintenance routines can keep a litany of maintenance issues from even coming through.
Below are some of the basic preventative maintenance routines to follow:
- Regularly test and check the batteries of the smoke and carbon detectors in the house.
- Regularly clean and/or replace filters and ventilation systems (This includes HVAC filters, washer, and filters, swimming pools, etc.)
- Regularly check for leaks and water damage in the property to prevent mold damage.
- Clean out the gutters at least twice a year
- Maintain the exterior by making sure trees are away from power lines, and large branches aren’t at risk of breaking off due to weather conditions.
3. Invest in Newer Appliances, Flooring, and/or Properties
While managing any type of turns or rehabs can become overwhelmingly pricey, it’s much better to spend some money upfront on newer appliances than to constantly have to deal with maintaining older ones. The same goes for flooring; carpets are much harder to maintain for longer periods of time than hardwood floors and have a much better aesthetic appeal for incoming tenants.
When it comes to investing in property, newer buildings are typically worth the extra investment. Older buildings are at risk for larger and more costly maintenance issues like burst pipes and dilapidated drywall.
4. Incentivize and Empower Tenants to Take Good Care of the Property
One of the biggest deterrents for property investors is the idea that the tenants will destroy the property, being that it’s not their own. While security deposits are there for this exact reason, there are a few other things you can do to incentivize and empower your tenants to take good care of the property.
- Look for tenants who are more likely to stay long-term and make the property more than just a temporary home. Typically tenants who stay longer feel more responsibility to take care of their home even though they are just renting. You might offer a lower rent price for a longer lease term.
- Do the due diligence in your tenant screening by actually calling the tenant’s references to ensure they are not prone to destructive living habits.
- Offer your tenants a basic troubleshooting guide so they know how they can solve any maintenance issues on their own.
If handling maintenance is not your strong suit, there are plenty of third-party services out there, like Latchel, who are built to create cost-effective efficiencies in this sector of the business.
Ethan Lieber is the CEO of Latchel. Latchel is a 24/7 maintenance department for property managers and landlords. Latchel takes tenant calls, screens and troubleshoots emergencies, and dispatches your contractors, or provides contractors you can use for your properties. With software built for transparency, clients can put their maintenance on autopilot while still keeping control over the operations. Latchel is backed by Y Combinator,which helped to launch companies like AirBnb, Dropbox, and Stripe, and is also featured on TechCrunch.