Appliance parts fail, motors break down, and accidents happen. Managing a rental property, even just one unit, means dealing with these kinds of breakdowns. Here are some pro tips to handle unexpected property damage and maintenance to your property in Katy, Texas:
1. Expect the unexpected
An old saying, but relevant to every aspect of life. Expect each appliance in your rental unit to either break down or require maintenance at some point. If you’ve had an appliance inspection, you’ll have a good idea of how much longer each appliance should last. You won’t be able to pinpoint when the refrigerator motor will burn out, but if it’s old, you’ll know it’s coming.
2. Maintain a padded maintenance savings account
Always keep a good amount of cash on hand for maintenance, repairs, and replacements. You don’t want to take out a loan to replace a broken HVAC unit because you’re short on cash. Even if you can pay off the loan quickly, the act of taking out a loan might tempt you to borrow far more than you need, which will create unnecessary debt.
3. Stay highly organized
Keep a file folder with the manufacturer’s manual for each appliance in your rental unit. If you didn’t buy the appliance or you threw away the manual, get a copy from ManualsOnline.com. The database has more than 700,000 product manuals available for free.
The idea isn’t to use the manuals to repair appliances yourself. Many problems with appliances can be fixed with simple troubleshooting. For instance, say you’re dealing with a microwave that stopped working. Some microwaves have a reset button located on the back of the unit. Most people don’t know those reset buttons exist, and if they did, wall-mounts make it impossible to reach. When you’ve got the microwave’s manual, you’ll know where to find the reset button. If that fixes the problem, you won’t need to call a repair service.
4. Keep your phone numbers handy
Maintain an accessible and alphabetized list of phone numbers for all the repair services you use. Know who to call for what. It’s even better if you have this phone list in a digital format in case you need to delegate the task of setting up a service call.
At some point, it’s a good idea to consider hiring a professional property management company to handle repairs and maintenance for you. Not only will you never have to deal with a repair company again, but you’ll get better rates for local trusted companies.
5. Don’t use your tenant’s repairs to practice your DIY skills
Have you replaced a window screen before by creating one from scratch? It’s not hard, but there is a learning curve when it comes to cutting the frame to fit the window. If you’ve never done it before, don’t practice on your tenant. Have a plan for who you’ll call when you need to handle small repairs.
Practice on the home you live in so you don’t have to explain to your tenant why you’ve measured the window seven times and still can’t get the frame to fit.
6. Have a clear agreement in your lease for handling damage
Texas law will reign supreme even if you don’t include specifics about damage in your lease agreement. However, it’s in your best interest to include maintenance and damage specifics in every lease your tenants sign.
You might choose to simply reiterate Texas law regarding what a tenant can and can’t be held liable for concerning damage and normal wear and tear. The better choice is to be specific to make your tenants consciously aware of their rights and responsibilities. Being specific also tells tenants you’re paying attention, and they can’t get away with punching holes in the wall.
A clear agreement won’t necessarily prevent damage, but as long as your agreement is in accordance with the law, it will be part of your tenant’s legally binding agreement. If you do need to pursue someone for damages, your agreement will make the recovery process swift.
7. Deal with damage immediately
Anytime a tenant reports damage to you, treat it as a priority. Depending on the damage, it might not be a top priority, but don’t put it off for weeks.
A word of caution: ask clarifying questions if you suspect the damage might be worse than your tenant reports. For example, if they report a water leak, get them to tell you exactly how big the drops are, how fast the water is leaking, and how much water has already leaked. A tenant might report a small leak in the bathroom roof, but when you get there, you could find a portion of the ceiling caved in. Water may not be leaking at a fast rate, but the damage is serious.
Never trust a tenant’s description of damage over the phone. If any reported damage has to do with water or electrical shorts, respond immediately.
8. Hire a property management company and lighten your load
The best way to handle unexpected property damage and maintenance is to never have to deal with it in the first place. Hiring a professional property management company relieves you of that duty.
When you bought your property in Katy, Texas, you had passive income in mind, not 3 am calls about broken screens and leaky pipes. Property management companies deal with early calls and emergencies all the time. It’s what they do, and why their services are available 24/7.
Contact Green Residential for help today
Do you need help managing your property in the greater Houston area? Contact Green Residential today for a free analysis. We’ve been in the property management business for over 30 years, and our team members have an extensive background in property management, accounting, and leasing and development.
Give us a call and find out how we can support your efforts to maintain a profitable investment property.