Let’s be blunt—property maintenance services can make or break a property’s value. It’s a critical part of property management. Ignore it for a while, and watch all hell break loose on the property you manage. A badly maintained property can diminish in value, attract the wrong tenants, and affect your reputation.
With this in mind, we offer you a thorough guide on property maintenance services. It’s split into three major parts: the what, the why, and the how. Feel free to jump to the parts you’re interested in—but going through it all can provide you with valuable info and give you some ideas that you haven’t thought about before.
What does property maintenance include?
Property maintenance consists of cleaning floors, fixing broken windows, draining the pipes, unclogging the faucets, tightening screws, and so on. Essentially, the parts of the property manager’s job which revolve around the upkeep of the properties are classified as property maintenance services.
Property maintenance tasks can be separated into three main categories:
- routine and urgent.
Regular maintenance services
Basically, all of the items mentioned below are tasks you should take care of on a regular basis. Luckily, they all consist of small, manageable subtasks that a few people can easily handle.
Here is a list of typical regular maintenance tasks:
- Cleaning: If you’re managing a commercial property, such as an office building, then it’s your responsibility to engage a cleaning crew to take care of cleaning the common spaces, hallways, windows, walls, and even bathrooms.
- Overseeing and scheduling repairs: tightening screws on lockboxes, hinges, and keyholes, replacing broken windows and lights, adding rubber frames where missing, handling unwanted drafts, fixing wall cracks, etc.
- Utilities: making sure electricity, Internet access, gas, water, sewage, and the rest are going as planned.
- Heating and cooling: making sure that the gas pipes are in good condition, that the heating panels and cooling units are working as they should, that there are no problems with the insulation and that no heat or cold is spilling out from anywhere.
- Air conditioning: making sure that the HVAC units and the air filters are working properly, and that the air that’s coming out of the air conditioning unit is clean as a result.
- Water: if you have pools or anything regularly connected to water, you need to regularly take care of the quality of the water. This might include, for example, chlorine treatments, boiling, removing lime, and alike.
Seasonal maintenance services
While regular tasks are small and everyday endeavours, seasonal maintenance tasks are usually big undertakings that are cyclical and depend on nature itself.
Some of these are:
- Snow and ice management (during and around winter): cleaning of rooftops, sidewalks, and entrances, throwing salt, defrosting walkways, stairways, and paths, keeping gutters as well as heating systems operational and clean, taking care to avoid frozen pipes and anything connected to them (e.g. pools), and similar.
- Leaves and similar bio refute (during autumn, but can stretch even to spring): cleaning stacked-up leaves from tree shedding and throwing them away properly.
- HVAC cleaning and servicing: at least twice a year; a good rule of thumb would be, for example, September and April.
- Thorough seasonal cleaning and sanitisation (at the start of each natural season): there are specific diseases that spread during each season. Therefore, thorough cleaning of common and personal spaces four times per year seems really reasonable (as well as subtly nudging your tenants to take care of their private spaces before they see the cleaning team ready to knock on their door).
It would be best if you include these into a check-list paired with calendar-set reminders, so you make sure you follow up and perform them on time. The reason is that some of these might incur additional costs and your property can even suffer damages if they aren’t done on time.
Routine and urgent maintenance
And finally, we reach the routine and urgent maintenance services. These are the ones that you take care of upon receiving a call from your tenants or owners. In this case, you don’t need to make regular check-up lists (which, of course, you can always do if you want to be extra careful).
However, it’s expected from you as a property manager to take notice of these issues and handle them promptly. A typical turn-around for property maintenance services, in this case, is from one day to one week (depending on the issue). Be careful, though: dragging your feet here can cost you tenants and owners.
Some of these routine and urgent property maintenance issues include:
- Plumbing issues: broken pipes that can result in floods and cleaning, clogged pipes, water leaks, dirty and yellowish tap water, and the like.
- Electricity and lighting issues: broken fuses, unstable currents (that can break electric appliances), non-working wall sockets, lighting panels or bulbs dying away, and naked and hence dangerous wires dangling around.
- Internet access issues: If there’s Wi-Fi and cable access included in the renting offer, make sure you follow up on that. Set up multiple router repeaters, so even if one of them goes down their devices would automatically connect to the closest working one.
- Burglary and theft: access to the property needs to be secured by either physical keys or digital cards. Security cameras can also improve security, but make sure you respect privacy and personal data. It would also be great if you have a security agency that you can employ and have on call to handle situations such as these i.e. in the middle of the night.
What makes property maintenance so difficult?
Aside from accounting, property maintenance might be the most difficult part of the job. In large part, this is due to the fact that badly maintained rental properties are a lawsuit waiting to happen, so the maintenance requests need to be precise and cover all of the problem areas that need repairing. However, there are two other reasons as well.
The initial difficulty in property maintenance is in the inspections that need to be conducted in order to check what exactly needs to be repaired or replaced. While most of the time these are simple routine inspections where you check for common property issues and schedule maintenance where necessary, sometimes something goes wrong.
The property manager that’s conducting the inspection must always stay alert and be aware of their surroundings. Sometimes a seemingly stable floorboard might be rotted, or a pipe might not be as durable as initially assumed. Take care to always be on your guard and treat every part of the property as if it’s dangerous, until proven otherwise.
The right mindset plays a big role in ensuring that the property maintenance goes off without a hitch. The property manager needs to:
- Conduct the inspection
- Schedule the maintenance
- Track the progress
- Handle the costs
There is plenty of room for error during any of these tasks. For example, if the manager isn’t paying attention during the inspection, they could potentially miss items that should have been scheduled for maintenance. Also, if the manager doesn’t track the report that they made, they could end up having to schedule the entire thing all over again.
Why is property maintenance important?
The upkeep of the units that are under your care is paramount. They need to be checked regularly in order to make sure that they adhere to codes and regulations. But there are also a few other reasons as to why maintenance is important.
Increases the value of the property
For starters, regular property maintenance increases the value of the property. Cleaner floors, working lights, more secure entrances, and properly heated rooms during snowfall are magnetic for tenants. Satisfied tenants then leave better reviews and word-of-mouth. This leads to more tenants, who are ready to pay even more to get that prime rental.
More satisfied tenants
Everybody loves a good, high-quality place to live in and call their friends over. As we already covered above, tenants are more satisfied with a place that is taken care of and even provides a bit extra from what’s strictly in the renting agreement. And more satisfied tenants means you can charge higher rent.
More satisfied owners
Of course, owners are always satisfied when their property is managed in a thoughtful and diligent manner. It’s why they let you do it, right? They don’t want to feel unsure whether their property is in safe hands, but they do like watching how the value of their property rises steadily throughout the years under your administration.
Lower cumulative costs and workload overall
Repairing something that’s broken is usually much more expensive than simply maintaining it. For example, if an HVAC unit breaks and there’s a component that needs to be replaced entirely, not only will you have to explain to the owner why a new potentially costly part needs to be bought, but you’ll also have to either apologize or at worst reallocate your tenants while the repairs are going on.
On the other hand, if you conduct regular maintenance on the same HVAC unit, it’s very unlikely to break down entirely, and any potential problems can be detected much sooner, and promptly sorted out.
While we only mentioned the HVAC unit, this applies to everything, from garbage disposal to the oven. Conducting regular maintenance is a much cheaper and less time-consuming venture than having to schedule repairs, and it will lead to more satisfied tenants.
How to provide excellent property maintenance services
Alright, now that we moved past the overview of everything the term ‘property maintenance’ entails, we will turn to the subject of how to execute that perfectly. The how can be easy or difficult, and this depends on how you choose to organize your responsibilities.
Schedule regular and seasonal maintenance operations
Instead of trying to memorize and recall all of your scheduled maintenance, and run the risk of forgetting them altogether, you’d be better off just setting a reminder on your computer or phone. A lot of property maintenance software that’s currently on the market has features that make almost every aspect of the property manager’s job much easier, so whichever software you might be using, it’s sure to have a calendar feature.
Or if you prefer the old-school pen and paper approach—make sure to use it. Write down important operations on your calendar, and make check-up lists that you can execute efficiently and effectively.
Automate (employ a maintenance tracking service)
Instead of collecting and sorting emails, writing down minutes of calls, and then figuring out who asked for what, you can employ a property maintenance tracking service. It will enable the creation of maintenance requests, and you can track their handling right from the office.
All you have to do is make sure your tenants and owners know that there’s such a system in place. Shooting them a video or an article through email, or even attaching printed out instructions might do the trick. And then watch how your workload and mental load goes down.
Be diligent, respectful, and efficient
Once a request has appeared in your app, check it immediately to see if it is something urgent and whether you can delegate it. Do that, and then go on about doing it quickly and respectfully.
This means, for example, to respect your tenants’ privacy when approaching their rented area. You also shouldn’t linger there more than it’s strictly necessary. If they have something to report, they will.
Contract it all out
We know that at times this can be too much. Even if you tried to employ several different specialists for different domains, you are still left with the need to manage them all. Who did what and when, was it enough, are they slacking, did they remember to sign in and off today… it can get tiresome very soon.
Luckily, you can outsource most of these tasks to a professional property maintenance service provider. If it fits your budget (and remember, you are potentially saving some good money with this) you can think about employing such a contractor, and just enjoy the peace of mind. It’s a win-win situation in most cases.
Property maintenance services in a nutshell
Although the above might seem like a whole forest of information, you don’t need to keep it all in mind. Simply bookmark this guide to get back to it whenever you need a reminder. If you’ve delegated maintenance management to others make sure to forward them this guide as well.
Remember: the most important thing here is your attitude towards property maintenance. If you believe that it enhances your property’s value you’ll be far more likely to do a good job at it—and actually have the prophecy fulfill itself. What comes next is structuring, organisation, and diligent execution.