Managing by Stealth

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That phrase is fitting for property maintenance in rental properties. Making sure properties are well maintained is vital for keeping them leased and retaining value. The only way to do this is to perform regular inspections of the properties to identify potential problems early and get them repaired before they can become large, expensive issues. There are plenty of things to look for, from the cosmetic to the mechanical and structural, once you go into a property for a regular inspection.

The most costly repairs are generally in the mechanical and structural parts of a structure. When performing an inspection, special attention should be focused on these areas. Some of the most devastating problems can be from water. It is quiet and can accumulate in areas that go unnoticed by many tenants, so inspections should focus on areas of potential water damage inside and outside of the structure. Roofs, guttering and downspouts should all be checked regularly for leaks, as should the plumbing systems inside. In addition to water, anything that could become a fire hazard requires inspection. Electrical systems should also be checked to be sure the insulation on any exposed wiring is still intact, there are no singe marks around outlets, and that the circuit breakers are adequate. Heating and air conditioning systems require annual inspections and cleanings to keep them safe, effective and efficient. The structure itself must be remembered as well. Crawl spaces and basements should be inspected for water and wood boring insect damage, so repairs may be made before the integrity of the structure is sacrificed.

Cosmetic repairs are often necessary from both aesthetic and liability perspectives. Carpets need to be checked regularly for rips, especially on stair treads where they could become tripping hazards. Walls and doors must be inspected for holes. Doors and windows should be checked to make sure they are not broken and they latch and lock properly. Checking attached lighting fixtures is important to ensure that all the sockets work and there are no broken parts.

Property maintenance is vital to a rental community and the only way to maintain a property adequately is through regular inspections. These inspections will allow problems to be discovered before they become major system or structural failures. Early detection equates to less expensive repairs and more valuable rental properties.

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