8 Essential Tasks Landlords Should Perform on an Annual Basis

June 23, 2015 by Michael Brown

Landlord insurance for residential rental property

The last thing you want is an article that overwhelms you with your duties and obligations. This is not one of those.

You know you have to stay on top of your rental properties on a regular basis. If you’re only inspecting them and reviewing financials every few years, you’re honestly missing out on potential profits.

Certain tasks should be done on an annual basis. If you fail to do these, your property can get into both physical and financial danger. To avoid these possible calamities, attend to the following eight tasks each year.

1. Check Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Pressing a smoke alarm reset button

As mandated by law, every rental home must have smoke alarms, and many states require carbon monoxide detectors. They’re handy warning systems, but they don’t last forever.

To ensure the tenants in each of your rental units are safe and secure, check these systems at least annually, if not biannually, and make sure they’re working properly.

Unfortunately, tenants don’t always see the benefits of having alarms in their home, and may fail to change the batteries on their own, or even throw them away to stop the beeping. This puts you in a jam if you undergo a surprise inspection, and it puts your tenants in danger if an emergency occurs.

2. Re-assess Insurance Rates
landlord insurance

A trick almost every insurance company employs is to attract your patronage with great rates, and then, once you’ve signed a policy, slowly raise your prices in the hope you won’t notice. Rates are constantly going up (and sometimes down).

To avoid paying a higher premium than necessary, don’t automatically renew your policy when it’s up at the end of the year. Instead, shop around among various insurance companies.

Chances are you can find a different company that offers the same coverage for hundreds or even thousands of fewer dollars a year.

3. Verify Keys
key access card

You can’t keep an eye on your tenants all the time. It’s possible that when you weren’t watching, they changed the lock on their unit.

Tenants will change the locks for any number of reasons, some good and some bad, but either way, it’s vital for you to be able to get into every unit without a hitch. It facilitates maintenance work and allows you legal access to the unit when it’s necessary.

So at a certain point every year, alert your tenants that you will be performing a key check. Then take your master keys around to each unit and give them a try.

Be sure to knock first to avoid awkward situations. If a tenant has changed the lock, reprimand and/or penalize them, and explain that doing so without your permission is a direct breach of the contract, then rectify the problem by reverting the lock or getting new keys.

4. Validate Accurate Market Rent

Much like the real estate sales market, the rental market can be extremely elastic. At some point, the shift in rental rates will likely be substantial enough that you can adjust what you charge.

You can stay on top of such shifts by evaluating the rental market at the end of each year. If your current asking price is significantly lower than rates for similar units on the market, you’re losing money.

If it’s much higher, you might also be losing money: in the form of lost tenants. Keep your profits consistent by making sure your rent falls in line with the current market. If you need to calculate a rent change, use this rent calculator.

5. Check for Water Leaks

Water leaks are extremely unpleasant for tenants, and if left untreated, they can be extremely costly. Though some tenants will complain constantly about leaks (and anything else they can find to complain about), others may not notify you because they either haven’t noticed or they’re afraid to make waves.

Water leaks are generally an easy fix if they’re caught in time. But if left untreated, they can turn into full-blown plumbing crises that cost thousands of dollars to fix.

Do yourself and your tenants a favor by checking for leaks at least once a year.

6. Update Contact and Emergency Contact Info

As a landlord with several rental complexes, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of paperwork. But it’s vital to keep your documentation up to date.

There are always tenants who are switching their phone numbers and emails, and they rarely think to let their landlord know about it. Such information is essential for running a rental business and handling emergencies, though.

So at least once a year, you should perform a routine update to ensure you have accurate contact info for every tenant. This can present a bit of a challenge with certain tenants who might prefer to keep their lives private, so you have to be persistent and get the information you need.

7. Perform Yard Work

Certain types of yard work are worthwhile for more than just attractive landscaping. Without it, you could experience big maintenance problems down the road.

For example, if you don’t check your roof regularly for damage, and fix the problem when you see it, it can lead to water leaks or even cave-ins that are dangerous and expensive. And they were entirely preventable.

Use this maintenance guide as a yearly checklist to ensure the safety of your tenants and your bank account.

8. Renew Your Rental License

As you probably know, many areas require landlords to register and renew their rental license each year. This may strike you as more of a technicality than anything, but failure to renew registration can lose you money.

Some states make you pay a fine to the government; others will require that you pay a fine to your tenants for failing to register again. So it’s worth it to get to the registration office in time!

Green Residential

As a landlord, your responsibilities can seem insurmountable at times. If that’s the case, it might be in your best interests to hire a property management company like Green Residential in Houston.

Our experts are trained and certified to handle not only yearly inspections, but also the day-to-day hassles of managing renters. We specialize in building tenant relationships and getting the job done in a professional and timely manner.

If you’re looking for a great way to simplify your life, increase your profits, and make your tenants happier, give us a call today!

Michael Brown

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