Cloudy morning … it’s winter season, the weather report says rain today, and you’re worried about the roof leaking.
Promising evening … whew, the rain has moved on and we didn’t get any calls from the tenants about a roof leak.
The next day … the weather report says rain all next week. What am I going to do now?
Scenarios like this are very common for Mom & Pop landlords. Roof leaks, old pipes, old electrical systems, appliance replacements, unexpected code enforcement, and the list goes on. How do you pay for these big-ticket items or even the everyday maintenance and repairs needed to maintain your rental property without going into debt?
Solution: Tracking Your Spending
Tracking your income and expenses is the key to reducing the worry of where the money is going to come from. It may not solve your problem of limited funds to cover a repair, but it’ll give you the answer to what your next step will be; getting a loan, refinancing the property, starting a reserves account, etc. If you don’t track your income and expenses, you won’t know how much money you have or need to complete the repair.
That’s where the worry begins. Once you know what your true balance is, only then can you start making plans to solve your problem. If you don’t know where to start, consider enrolling in my Take Control of your Finances class. You’ll learn a simple way to track your income and expenses without a QuickBooks class or an accounting class. Let’s look at some ways to solve some of your financial worries.
- Tenants Break -Tenants Pay
According to landlord-tenant laws, landlords are required to keep their rental in proper living conditions without any health and safety concerns, give access to running water, provide proper heating, yada, yada, yada. We get that. However, there are times when the tenant causes the damage. Are landlords still responsible for those damages that are caused by a tenant? The answer is, in most cases, YES. Review your rental agreement. Any standard rental agreement will have a Condition of Premises section. It usually looks like this: Resident agrees to keep the premises and all items in good order and condition and to immediately pay for costs to repair and/or replace any portion of damages caused by the resident, his guests, and/or invitees, except as provided by law.
The next time you have a plumbing stoppage, broken window, tear on the carpet, etc. find out what caused it. Only then can you decide who’s responsible for the repair cost.
- Review Your Expenses
Many landlords use their rental income to supplement their lifestyle. With that said, if your rental business is facing financial struggles, then you’ll need to reduce your expenses. You can do this by reviewing how you spend your money and then decide what you can cut. You’ll be surprised how much you save by cutting back on going out to eat.
- Refinance Your Property
If you have equity in your property, this may be a great solution to getting those big-ticket items done. If interest rates are low, you’re in an even better situation. By refinancing your loan, you can pull out equity from your property. Your new interest rate and how much equity you pull out will determine if you’ll have an increase or decrease in your mortgage payment.
- Start a Cash Reserve Account
A cash reserve is an account that holds funds for future expenses. After reviewing your finances by tracking your income and expenses, you’ll see your true balance. From there, decide what percentage of your balance to transfer into your cash reserve account every month. You may be surprised to see more funds than you thought. Keep in mind, this account is only to be used for maintenance and repairs. Again, if this is a topic that’s challenging for you, consider taking my Take Control of your Finances class. It’s a simple way to track your income and expenses to see your monthly total
- Get a Loan
This may be your last resort because landlords don’t want to add debt or even have another monthly payment added to their expenses. The bottom line is, if the roof is leaking and you don’t have the funds to pay for it, you need to do something.
Now that you have some options to think about, which one will you consider? If you’re not yet in a position of needing a repair of a big-ticket item, then I recommend starting a cash reserve account so you have the funds when you do need it. Remember, the question is not if you’ll need it, it’s when you need it. The only way to reduce your stress is to have a plan in place.
Shiral Torres teaches rental property management classes at local colleges and through her business, Simply Shiral. She believes keeping life simple is the key to success. She and her husband own and manage multiple properties in California and throughout the country. The author of Rental Property Made Simple (available at amazon.com), Shiral is also a volunteer support group facilitator and Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee member for the Alzheimer’s Association. Want to learn more? Visit her website at www.simplyshiral.com to view the simple affordable classes offered that help you gain confidence and profits.