How to Tune up Your Investment Property for the Summer
Revised and updated by Levio Poletti
When entering the spring and summer months, it is always important for landlords to focus their attention on the challenges that arise from maintaining a property in a warmer climate. There are two broad ways that this can be done: through preventative maintenance, and quality maintenance.
Preventative Maintenance: Small Repairs, Big Savings
While there seems to be little incentive to make small repairs to utilities that are otherwise working fine, it is crucial that landlords remain vigilant, and repair these issues as soon as they are discovered; addressing the minor issues quickly prevents major expenses that could arise in the long term.
1. Doorstops: These seemingly null tools provide a surprising amount of protection against door and wall degradation. Hosting outside events at your home during the summer months means that your doors will be used more often than normal; without a doorstop, your walls and doorframes are susceptible to unnecessary holes and damage. A neat trick, when possible, is to put your doorstops on the “tops of doors”; this prevents them from being pulled or kicked off by children, animals, or even adults.
2. AC filters: Hot weather outside means ACs inside. However, if the AC lacks a high-quality filter, then they pose a significant risk to the cleanliness of the apartment/house. Clean filters prevent dirty ceilings and walls, as well as clogged coils. What is also important is that properly filtrated ACs maintain healthy air inside the living space.
3. Water heater strapping/wrapping: Double-strapping your hot water tank is required by law in Washington State. Changing weather always poses a risk to the quality of your heater; as this is a safety issue, it is very important to check up on them, and to replace broken straps.
4. Smoke alarms: Warmer months means firepits, barbeques, and outdoor grilling. They also mean increased exposure to smoke damage and house fires. So, it is imperative to keep smoke alarms in working condition. If you learn that one of your units has a faulty/damaged smoke alarm, then you should replace it immediately for the sake of the tenant’s safety.
5. Carbon Monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide detectors are required on all living floors of a residential rental property. For instance, a 3-story townhome would require 3 CO detectors, one for each floor. We generally use a Kidde wall plug-in unit with batter backup for added security. Tenants are required to maintain the back-up batteries at all time.
6. Deadbolts: Protection from break-ins is important year-round, however you face a higher chance of having a break in during the warmer months when burglars can stay outside for longer periods of time. Deadbolts reduce landlord liability against break-ins and are a small expenditure.
7. Range hoods and exhaust fans: In order to prepare your kitchen for summer parties, it is important to maintain your range hood. This means cleaning the filters, grills, and washing the fan blades so that everything operates properly, and unnecessary replacement is avoided.
8. Bathroom tiles: Returning home from an outdoor hike in the beautiful summer weather? Make sure your bathroom is prepared for your post hike detox by checking for grout, calk and tile damage. Bathrooms are especially susceptible to decay, so it is important to maintain against potential long-term damage here.
Quality Maintenance: A Property Manager’s Definition of Summer
Warm weather signals the beginning of calls on air-conditioners, insect pesticides, and sprinklers. Maintaining the quality of your unit in these three areas provides for a solid foundation against quality degradation during the spring and summer months.
1. AC units: While we considered the importance of checking up on AC filters above, it is also important to have your entire AC unit professionally serviced every year. An AC serviceman can check the unit, clean coils, add Freon, adjust dampers, and look for any other potential problems. Removing trees, debris, or trash that is blocking the flow of air intake into the unit ensures the preservation of your unit’s quality. These measures, in all, can increase the lifespan of your AC significantly.
2. Sprinklers and landscape: Servicing your irrigation systems equates to big savings on water usage, preventing landscape quality loss, and avoiding standing water. Pruning your landscape keeps bushes and trees in control, prevents damage to buildings, and increases safety for tenants and visitors.
3. Pest control: The warm Summer weather means that insects will flourish. Make sure you maintain a connection with a professional pest control business, so that the quality of your unit does not suffer as a result of infestations.
Other Important Tune Ups
1. Roofing: Mildew build-up can dry and rot if left in the sun for too long. Take measures to replace loose or missing roof materials to avoid rot or water damage. This will prolong the life of the roof.
2. Painting: Covering the walls of your unit with a fresh coat of paint will protect against sun damage and will enhance the value of your property.
3. Flooring: Take care to replace or repair worn out linoleum, tiles, and carpet for the sake of your tenant, and to reduce any potential liabilities.
4. Plumbing: Dry rot can also be an issue for your plumbing; Take care of standing/running water to prevent toxic mold build up. This is one of the biggest areas of liability in the housing market.
5. Electrical: Come rain or shine, it is always important to replace/repair an electrical issue in a unit as soon as it is detected. This is to ensure the safety of the tenant and the property.
6. Gutters and downspouts: To avoid mildew build up and dry rot damage, clean your unit’s gutters and check the extensions for downspouts.
7. Chimney: Make sure to visually inspect your chimney for any damage to the cap, flash, or masonry. Be extra vigilant during the summer for bird or wasp nests.
Entering the warmer months of Spring and Summer poses a number of unique challenges for landlords. At the same time, they remain manageable if the landlord makes sure to cover preventative and qualitative maintenance checks on their units. On top of reducing operating expenses, these checks reduce the owner’s liability to any potential environmental damage to the unit and promotes satisfied tenants.