When you own a rental property in Austin, Texas, you can expect to perform maintenance and repairs on a regular basis. Appliances break down, shingles need to be replaced, and sometimes pipes burst.
Unless you have a property manager, being a landlord isn’t a hands-free gig. To help offset all of your time, you might be tempted to allow tenants to perform their own repairs. Granted, you can’t require a tenant to perform repairs, but some tenants enjoy that kind of work. In fact, many tenants would rather fix issues as they arise than wait for their landlord to make the repairs.
Should you allow your tenants to make their own repairs and deduct the cost of labor and materials from the rent? If the circumstances are right, it might be an option.
While having tenants perform their own repairs can save you time and money, there are 4 pros and 4 cons to consider before making your decision.
The 4 disadvantages of allowing your tenants to perform their own repairs
1. Your tenant might not pull the right permits (or any permits)
The biggest disadvantage of allowing tenants to perform repairs is the risk that they might not pull the proper permits – if they pull permits at all.
Some repairs will require pulling a permit or two. It’s important that you get the proper permits each time so you don’t have to worry about fines, or worse, being required to demolish your hard work.
The best way to mitigate this potential problem is to avoid creating an open-ended allowance for repairs. Instead, require the tenant to contact you regarding each repair, no matter how small. This way, you can make sure tasks that require a permit are properly managed.
2. Your tenant might contract the work to the wrong person
Once you give a tenant the green light to perform their own repairs, they might hire a contractor or a company to help with the job. Normally, that would be a good thing. However, your tenant might not know how to find the right person for the job.
Chances are high that your tenant might unintentionally hire a bad contractor or company with a bad reputation. If the company hired does a bad job, performs illegal work, or creates a problem, you’ll be on the hook as the property owner.
To mitigate this potential disaster, make sure your tenant knows they need to have all third parties approved before starting work.
3. Your tenant might get hurt
As a property owner, you are fully responsible for injuries that occur on your property. Even if you don’t live on your property, you can still be held liable for injuries sustained by your tenants and their guests.
If your tenant gets hurt in the process of performing maintenance or a repair, you could end up having to file a claim with your insurance company, which will raise your rates.
4. Your tenant might not know how to make the repair
One of the worst situations you can get into is having a tenant claim to know how to make a repair, when they really don’t have any idea what they’re doing.
Many people with a DIY mindset believe they can do anything as long as they have a YouTube tutorial to follow. For simple repairs, that’s probably true. However, more complex repairs might not be that easy. For instance, flushing out a propane-powered tankless water heater might seem easy, but the wrong move can cause a gas leak.
There’s really no way to mitigate this potential problem since there’s no way to test your tenant’s skills before something breaks.
The 4 advantages of allowing your tenants to perform their own repairs
1. You won’t have to schedule repairs for small problems
Most people know how to replace the mechanism in their toilet tank. For instance, when the chain breaks, most people know how to use a safety pin to fix the broken chain.
That’s not the kind of repair you want to be called out to fix. By giving your tenants the OK to fix these small issues, you’ll save yourself from having to spend a day fixing it or paying someone else.
2. You’ll save money even after your tenant deducts the repairs from their rent
Your tenant won’t fix your property for free, but you’ll save a little bit of money. Most tenants will be happy to deduct the cost of labor at a reasonable rate; since they don’t need to drive anywhere, they won’t need to inflate their rates to cover the cost of gas or wear and tear on a vehicle.
3. You won’t have to perform the work yourself
The greatest benefit of having your tenants perform their own repairs is that you won’t have to do any of the work. Whether your tenant does the work themselves or hires it out, your hands will be free.
4. You won’t get calls at 3 in the morning
When your tenants are empowered to make their own repairs, they won’t call you when the refrigerator motor goes out at 3 A.M. unless that’s something they can’t fix. Allowing your tenants to fix small issues will reduce the number of phone calls you’ll get when things break.
Tired of dealing with repairs and maintenance? Green Residential can help!
If you’d rather not deal with repairs and maintenance, and you don’t want your tenants making repairs, you’re not alone. Most landlords would never lift a finger if they had another option. Thankfully, there is another option – property management services.
At Green Residential, we help Austin landlords manage their rental properties from top to bottom by taking care of all the nitty-gritty aspects of being a landlord. For instance, we handle marketing, tenant screening, evictions, inspections, and of course, repairs and maintenance.
When you hand over your landlord duties to a team of professional property managers, your tenants will be happy, and your properties will be in good hands. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.