What is it?  I’ll give you a few hints “ it can lead to a reduction in those dreaded service requests.  It can reduce controllable expenses.  It can even increase resident satisfaction and lead to greater resident retention!
You guessed it.  ‘s the annual property inspection.  By performing this single task each year, you can extend the life of your equipment, reduce unexpected problems and lessen the likelihood of normal problems becoming more costly ones.

The Nuts and Bolts
The annual property inspection is the first step in a good preventative maintenance program and is an integral part of a landlord or property manager’s responsibilities.  Professional property managers generally perform this activity in early spring or late winter, prior to the busy season.
Although every property is unique, the scope of annual property inspections generally includes the interior of each apartment, common areas as appropriate, the building exterior(s) and grounds.  This process involves going through the entire property and documenting the condition of all areas, equipment, structural components and landscaping.  It is helpful to use a checklist to be certain that every area gets assessed each year.  Also, pictures are worth a thousand words, so take a few shots of any issues you see as you go.  After conducting and documenting the inspection, you can compare this year’s findings with last year’s to check the status of any long-term trends and indentify emerging issues.

More Time and Money
This process will help you to clearly identify what is working well and prioritize what needs to be repaired or replaced at your rental property over the next 12 months.  By planning the year’s maintenance schedule and activities for your rental property based on what you found during the inspection, you will be in an excellent position to have more control over both your time and money.
Kathleen Wilcox is a principal at Lamplight Enterprises, LLC, which provides business support services to real estate investors who own and manager real property.

Springtime Property Maintenance Tips
By Benjamin Petter

The coming of spring marks an intrinsic planning milestone when many owners begin to put into motion their asset optimization targets and evaluate the scope and cost of required improvements and maintenance items for the year.  This process requires a thorough understanding of how a property is currently performing while balancing the potential for ongoing maintenance risk items, as well as highlighting improvement options to maximize net operating income (NOI) and increasing the overall value of your property.
Routine springtime inspections should include at least the following maintenance and improvement considerations:

Foundation and Exterior Envelope
¢    Check for cracking and deterioration throughout.  All cracking should be patched
¢    Check chimneys and masonry for deteriorated or missing mortar.  The presence of moss typically means water accumulation, and these areas should be addressed to ensure water intrusion is not occurring.
¢    Check grading to ensure proper sloping away from foundation walls.  Install soil as needed.
¢    Check all exterior wood surfaces to ensure dry rot has not occurred and waterproofing is in place.
¢    Check deck, patio, porch and exterior stairs and railings for deterioration
¢    Remove debris from downspouts and gutters.
¢    Consider the cost / benefit of upgrading to energy efficient windows and doors.
¢    Check basement and crawlspace for moisture or leaking water.  Take care of all moisture problems.

Waterproofing Systems
¢    Check for missing, loose or damaged roof shingles.
¢    Check for any areas of water intrusion or pockets of water under the roof membrane.
¢    Check the flashing systems around all penetrations, sidewalls, chimneys, and antennas.
¢    Check fascia, soffits and roof louvers for deterioration and damage.

Interior Finishes
¢    Make note of interior improvement targets and schedule them to take place at contract turns.
¢    Identify any underutilized space that you may be able to rent.
¢    Repair or replace torn screens and broken windows.
¢    Perform all annual common area painting or other projects where ventilation can be a problem.
¢    Check smoke detectors and replace batteries.

Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing
¢    Inspect heating, cooling and ventilation systems.  Ensure thermostats are set properly.
¢    Shut down boiler systems.
¢    Inspect plumbing systems taking note of slow drains, constricted water supply and backups.  If needed, have sewer and plumbing systems inspected or jetted before a big backup occurs.

Landscape and Exterior
¢    Plan any seasonal color, landscape lighting and improvement items.
¢    Plant trees, shrubs and flowers.
¢    Perform any needed lawn rehabilitation.
¢    Apply weed preventer and fertilize the lawn.
¢    Remove fallen storm debris.  Trim shrubs that make contact with the structure.
¢    Do not prune trees until autumn, when it’s healthier for the trees to trim.
¢    Establish monthly maintenance actions tailored to your property’s needs.

Gibralter Maintenance is a full service property maintenance company serving over 400 properties on an ongoing basis.  Reprinted with permission of Update, official publication of the Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound.

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