One of the most important things you’ll need to plan for as a rental property owner is maintenance. Today, we’re sharing some ideas for how to handle maintenance and what you should expect from your property manager when it comes to making repairs.
All Seattle property management companies should have emergency services available after hours. It’s also essential to have maintenance staff or vendors available for those emergency repairs. We recommend you use a dedicated phone number that is only to be used for these emergencies that occur outside of regular business hours. Make sure you set parameters with your great tenants for what constitutes an actual emergency. For example, the heat going out in the winter, the power getting shut off or a lack of water are all examples of emergencies.
Authorized Repair Limit
When you work with a property management company, there should be an agreement in place that establishes an authorized repair limit. This means that your property manager can authorize repairs without your consent up to a specific amount. However, more expensive repairs that aren’t emergencies will need to be authorized by the owner directly. Make sure the amount is reasonable and give your property manager the authority he needs to address maintenance issues in a timely manner. A limit that’s too low will only hinder your property manager in performing necessary maintenance quickly. You don’t want to leave work undone because that creates unhappy tenants. You also have to be mindful of and compliant with laws in Washington State that regulate what constitutes timely repairs.
Many property management companies require a reserve fund. Owners deposit money into this fund to cover their property’s minor maintenance contingencies, and the amount is often equal to the authorized repair limit. These reserve funds are not income to the management company. Instead, it’s the property owner’s money that’s specifically used for maintenance and repairs on their property.
We recommend you hold tenants accountable for any maintenance that’s required due to their own misuse or negligence. Property managers are able to use their experience to determine what kind of damage is the responsibility of tenants and what the property owner should cover. Vendors and maintenance staff can identify the source of a problem, which will assist property managers in determining who should pay for the repair. Fair wear and tear is expected by law and does not constitute tenant damage.
Always use vendors who are licensed, insured and bonded contractors. This will ensure you get a higher quality of work than you would by using an unlicensed worker. Remember that management companies generate a higher volume of work, which means they often receive better rates and quicker service times than individual owners.
Maintenance personnel can provide invaluable input to landlords and property managers. They are another set of eyes on the property and they can let you know what kind of condition your home is in. If you have any questions about how to perform maintenance on your rental property, please contact us at Brink Property Management.