A preventive maintenance plan with regularly scheduled inspections should be part of every residential landlord or rental property owner's policies and procedures. Thorough preventive maintenance programs have significant economic benefits, including lower utility bills, avoidance of costly emergency repairs, and extension of the life of HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning), plumbing, and electrical systems.
Find a preventive maintenance checklist and tailor it to meet your needs and those of the building. A checklist will include inspections of air conditioning units, water heaters, toilets, electrical outlets (look for signs of damage and make sure they aren't overloaded), and the roof (make repairs, and clear drains and gutters).
Be sure to schedule the annual inspection in advance with your tenants and consistent with notice requirements. Pay particular attention to bathrooms and kitchens where leaks can cause costly damage. During the inspection, use the checklist to keep you on track, but also look for signs of other issues, such as mildew, mold, or water damage. If a carpet is damp, don't assume your tenant cleaned the carpet or spilled water. Follow-up with your tenant—it could be a leak. While you're doing the annual inspection, it's a good time to also change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
HVAC systems, swimming pools, and the building exterior should be cleaned regularly based on usage. Replace HVAC filters first and then check filters in your washers and dryers, including their venting systems. Replacing filters makes your equipment run more efficiently and be less susceptible to break downs. Tailoring a preventive maintenance checklist and committing to regular inspections is extra work for landlords and property managers, but can save a lot of money, time, and inconvenience in the long run.
Some landlords and property owners purchase maintenance plans to ensure they keep on schedule and the work gets done. You can even find a company that specializes in more challenging areas, such as HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. These big ticket items are most likely to break down without proper maintenance and if you know you're not capable of their maintenance, source it out so you don't have to face the costly effects of a serious repair.