When you rent out your property, you want to make sure that it’s being taken care of. Once a year, you should visit the home and review its condition. We refer to this as a preventive maintenance walkthrough. This walkthrough allows you to see if the tenants are complying with the lease and keeping the property clean. There are a handful of things you should pay special attention to during a preventative maintenance walkthrough.
Talk to the Tenant First
If the tenant is present for the walkthrough, we recommend talking to them first. Ask them if they are aware of any current maintenance issues or potential problems. This is a great step to start with because while you will be checking the entire property regardless, they can point you in the right direction. You should also ask them if they have made any property modifications (i.e. installing shelving, a TV, lock changes, etc.) These are great things to be aware of so you can be prepared for their eventual move out.
The walkthrough should encompass the entire house and yard. It's a good idea to take photos of each room so you have something to compare to once the tenancy ends. During the walkthrough make sure to examine all appliances (washer, dryer, kitchen appliances) and the water heater.
Water Damage and Microbial Growth
Check all rooms for any water damage or leaks. Left unattended, water damage can quickly turn into a bigger problem. Leaks will not only damage your property but also increase the water bill, which either you or your tenant will be paying. If you notice that the bill is higher than usual, this is something you may want to double check.
You should check all rooms for any signs of microbial growth. Try to avoid using the M word (mold). There are big implications if you diagnose something as mold when it actually isn’t so we recommend leaving this to the professionals. Microbial growth can occur in any room, especially bathrooms. A bathroom that is not properly ventilated can easily start to have these problems. Make sure you know the difference between the two as well.
If there appears to be mold, you’ll want to get a qualified professional out to the property as soon as you can to assess the issue. If you notice mildew, the tenants need to take care of this themselves. Many property managers consider tenant-caused mildew to be a lease violation because they are not following the provision stating that they will keep the property clean.
Keep an eye out for any pests on the property, such as ants, spiders, fruit flies, or cockroaches. Larger scale bug problems should be handled by an exterminator. For minor issues, you can recommend tips to the tenants on how to handle it or provide insect traps or repellant. Tell them to contact you if they can't get it under control.
You should always check your HVAC filters when doing a walkthrough. These filters need to be changed every 3-6 months, which is why we typically do these walkthroughs halfway through a tenancy. It’s up to you if you want to provide new filters for your tenants or require them to maintain it. Either way, make sure they are being swapped out at the 6-month mark.
You should also check the smoke and CO detectors. These usually have batteries with a very long life span, but it’s always good to test them while you’re at the property.
Preventative maintenance walkthroughs are also a great time to see if your tenants are complying with the lease. The most common issue we run into is unauthorized tenants and pets. Signs that this might be a problem includes additional beds in common areas, pet toys, and even seeing the animals in the home. Remember to review the lease prior to the walkthrough. If there are two men on the lease and you see the house is littered with women’s items, you can assume that there is an unauthorized tenant.
Not sure what you should be responsible vs. your tenants? Check out our blog below!