Each property management company has its own way of handling maintenance. Some companies will allow owners to do their own repairs while a tenant is in the house. That’s a practice you’ll find with new, start-up companies that don’t have a lot of experience in the industry. More experienced Grand Rapids property managers will avoid this because of the liability issues it can cause.
Legally Required Maintenance
The contract you have with your property management company should address how maintenance is handled when housing laws and liability issues are at stake. A lot of property managers will not make repairs without the owner’s consent if the cost is over a certain limit – usually $300 or $500. However, if something at your property is in violation of city code, it has to be fixed. Most property managers will fix anything that is a liability or against housing code which may cost over the $300 to $500 limit; and you’ll be notified after the fact. This protects owners from being sued if something should happen to the tenant.
Maintenance on Vacant Properties
In between tenants, there is a lot more flexibility with maintenance. If owners want to do their own turnover, that’s fine. However, many property managers will not market a property until all the work is complete and they are able to inspect it. The house must pass your property managers standards. When property managers handle the turnover maintenance, they are able to begin marketing the property as soon as a tenant gives notice. They’re able to show the property in those last 30 days of a lease period and hopefully have the place re-rented before the current tenant even moves out. Property managers know what’s needed at the property, so they’re able to make some quick adjustments and get the new tenant moved in right away. This is a huge advantage to the property owner. A lot of marketing time is lost when owners try to handle the turnover themselves.
How Saving Money Now Can Cost You Later
Here’s an actual example that illustrates the problem you can have when you try to save money in the short term without any thought to the long term. A tenant put a deposit down on a house that needed painting, and the property management company was going to have the home painted and the tenant moved in within five days. The owner decided he wanted his daughter to paint it before the tenant moved in. She offered to do it for $300 less than an insured contractor was going to charge. However, she wasn’t going to be able to do the work for a couple of weeks. The deposit get returned to the tenant because that tenant needed to move in somewhere right away. It took the owner’s daughter three months to complete the paint job, so he lost three months worth of rent while the daughter painted the house, plus the extra month it took to market it and find a new tenant. In order to save $300 on a paint job, this owner lost four months of rent.
This example is important to show you that a professional property management company is going to save you money and provide a higher quality of work. You want to be concerned with the money in your pocket at the end of the year or at the end of five years, not with saving a few dollars right now.
24 Hour Maintenance
Many property management companies offer 24 hour maintenance service to tenants. If you aren’t able to respond to every call personally, you can hire a service to screen maintenance calls for you after hours. It’s important to get as much information as possible when the call comes in so you know if it’s truly an emergency. A toilet that doesn’t work is only an emergency if there are no other toilets in the house. Make sure you have someone qualified screening these maintenance calls.
We’d be happy to tell you more about how your property manager should handle maintenance. Please contact us at United Properties for more information.