They say that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. I think it’s safe to add a third item to that list: Property repairs for landlords. If you own a rental home, at some point you will have to repair, replace or perform some other time of maintenance on your property. But, don’t worry! You read the Central Florida Property Management blog and are thus more educated on the in-and-out aspects of managing rental property than the typical rental owner.
I would be irresponsible to go without saying that the State of Florida has a whole set of laws governing landlord/tenant relations , some that deal with maintenance and repairs of occupied rental property. Violation of these laws can result in serious fines, loss of license if applicable and even possible jail time. Make sure you are up to speed on the law of the land or hire someone who is, like us!
With that said, here are some simple rules to help keep your maintenance and repair headaches to a minimum:
– Have the phone number of an excellent contractor/handyman. Better yet, have 2 or 3. This will often be the first person you call when issues arise. They should be a jack-of-all-trades and should be able to coordinate and prioritize the work to be done with minimal direction from you. Make sure to check references and that they are licensed and insured before hiring anyone. You may also want to consider a background check. The main point of this is to be PREPARED for issues to arise, and not be scrambling to find someone after something has already happened.
– Get your contractor and tenant on the same page. Unless you want to physically observe the work being performed at the house, your tenant needs to know when someone is coming to fix whatever problem there is. Keep them in the loop. Nobody likes having their time wasted. This also shows the tenant that you are putting forth effort to resolve their troubles for them, which can go along way when it is time to renew the lease and bump the rent up.
– Hold all parties accountable while also being reasonable. Managing tenants and contractors calls for wearing multiple hats. On the one hand, you need to be reasonable. Tenants are actually human beings who just so happen to live in a house you own; they aren’t criminals or animals. Apply the golden rule to their requests and behavior and you should do fine. On the other hand, they can sometimes have unrealistic expectations or can interfere with the very maintenance that they are requesting. In this case you have to wear what I like to call your ‘parent hat’. For instance, if a tenant notifies you that the A/C has stopped working and you arrange for a repairman to come service it only to find that the tenant is not there at the agreed upon time, you have the obligation to charge the tenant for that service call. It was their fault, and they will accept responsibility for it. While this might be difficult for some of you who are non-confrontational, I promise it is the best thing for all parties involved in the long run.
Maintenance issues, and how they are handled by landlords, are one of the main reasons tenants choose to stay in a property or move. And vacancies are expensive. Be forward-looking when dealing with maintenance issues and follow our 3 simple rules above and you will be ahead of 95% of the landlords out there. Better idea: let us do it for you. We’re always happy to help!