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What’s more expensive? Properly maintaining a rental property, or failing to maintain a rental property?

System - Thursday, March 3, 2016

Yes, the upfront costs of ongoing maintenance, inspection, vigilance and TLC can be expensive. But, it’s far worse to put it off until it’s too late.

To keep your property livable and rentable, and maximize the eventual income and resale value of the property over time, you (and/or a professional) should be addressing the following items regularly (annually, seasonally, or whenever there’s turnover in a unit).

Please note: landlords cannot conduct maintenance any time they want. Check local access laws, and give a few days’ notice to tenants before entering the unit (unless it’s an emergency).

Seasonal checklist

Inspect:

  • Batteries in smoke, carbon monoxide and water leak alarms
  • Furnace units and HVACs (see below for HVAC problems to look out for)
  • Gas appliance (ovens, washer/dryer)
  • Plumbing (leaks or clogs in sinks, drains, and toilets)
  • Caulking
  • Roof/ceiling (see below for signs and causes of common roof problems)
  • Basement (water accumulation)
  • All window and door locks, including deadbolts (see common door and window problems below)
  • Exterior paint/stains/waterproofing
  • Metal screens over possible rodent entry points
  • Fences for damage or wear
  • Have fire extinguishers checked and certified by qualified contractors

Maintain:

  • Trim vegetation/weeds (these can be a fire hazard or hide pests)
  • Clean rain gutters
  • Change air filters
  • Schedule an preemptive exterminator visit (it’s easier and cheaper to prevent pests than to get rid of them)
  • Clean and winterize pools; inspect and install pool covers; clean and replace filters
  • Sanitize hot tubs
  • Service sump pumps
  • Set rodent traps

Roof and attic checklist

  • After rain, wind, or snowstorms, check for missing/damaged shingles or flashing; look for icicle accumulation at roofline
  • Check for water accumulation on pitch and gravel roofing
  • Seasonally, check for moss/lichens, buildup of leaves
  • Inspect and clean gutters, make sure they are securely fastened
  • Check attic for moisture and pests
  • Inspect attic vents
  • Have chimneys and fireplaces inspected for cracked or missing mortar; clean ashes from fireplace; hire a professional to clean and service chimneys

Windows and doors checklist

  • Check locks, doorjambs, thresholds and insulation for damage and wear
  • Apply sealants
  • Inventory storm doors and shutters; inspect for wear and damage
  • Clean window wells, check drainage
  • Inspect and repair door and window flashing
  • Lubricate hinges
  • Open and close windows to see if they get stuck open or closed
  • Check to see if door and window frames are crooked, this could be a sign of foundational problems or sinkhole activity.

Pre-Winter HVAC checklist

  • Have furnace or central air serviced
  • Clean vents and ducts
  • Remove window AC units
  • Clean debris away from roof and exterior AC units
  • Check heating oil supply

Basements and crawl space checklist

  • Check for cracked mortar or concrete, and gaps between bricks
  • Inspect for wet surfaces or water accumulations
  • Check for pests
  • Install and/or check moisture alarms

Plumbing checklist

  • Flush out water systems.
  • Prevent illnesses for new tenants by run hot water at max temperature through plumbing prior to every new move-in
  • Drain and flush water heaters and inspect for leaks
  • Check pressure relief valve on water heaters
  • Inspect insulation near pipes
  • Inspect walls for cracks. Caulk or spackle cracks in exterior walls that would otherwise allow freezing air to reach pipes
  • Check for signs of corrosion at/around pipe joints
  • Check for sweating or leaks around the water main and meter
  • Clean out/pump septic tank
  • Check water softener, and add salt if necessary

Interior rooms checklist:

Bathroom:

  • Check for mold under sinks and near showers/tubs
  • Install splash guards to prevent water damage and mold
  • Look for cracks/damage to shower caulking
  • Check toilet/shutoff valve
  • Check tile grout

Kitchen:

  • Clean refrigerator coils
  • Check under sinks and behind appliances for signs of pests
  • Clean out kitchen range hood screens
  • Clean and tune ranges and ovens
  • Check dishwasher hoses for leaks, decay or poor connection
  • Inspect refrigerator seal (it should seal over a dollar bill or similar size paper, if it does not, it’s time for repair)
  • Clean out garbage disposal. (Tip: Run vinegar and lemon juice ice cubes through the garbage disposal. This breaks up odors and sharpens the blades at the same time.)

Electrical checklist

  • Schedule regular electrical inspections
  • Test outlets for proper grounding
  • Look for signs of damage or wear:
    • Decaying wiring or insulation
    • Make sure that outlets or switches are not hot or warm to the touch
    • Check outlets for signs of arcing or scorching
    • See if ceiling lights dim when you turn on appliances, vacuum cleaners, microwaves,
    • etc. This could be a sign that your circuits are overloaded.

And last, but certainly not least: remember that your tenants are your most valuable asset. It’s okay to hand them a copy of this checklist, remind them you’ll be performing seasonal or annual maintenance, and ask them to alert you if anything is out-of-the-ordinary.

Our property managers will perform a biannual inspection or every unit you own along with the common areas and exterior of the properties. We will provide pictures and recommended corrections in writing.

A leaky toilet can waste up to 6,000 gallons of water per month. In many Chicago Suburbs this would add roughly $400 to your water bill in just one month. in a toilet can waste up to 6,000 gallons of water per month that would add roughly $400 a month to your water bill in many Chicago suburbs.


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EARNED RUN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

Physical Address:
17W695 Butterfield Rd
Suite D
Oakbrook Terrace IL 60181
(877) 230-7338

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1509
Lombard IL 60148

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