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The Ultimate Preventative Property Maintenance Checklist

Key Takeaways

  • How often should you service your HVAC units? When is the best time to get a roof inspection? One of the biggest challenges for a landlord is to juggle these preventative maintenance questions. That’s where our maintenance checklist comes in to help you handle potential issues.
  • Some rental maintenance tasks take longer, while others are more urgent. Divide your list into different time frames to make your maintenance responsibilities more manageable.
  • Using a checklist to conduct your rental's maintenance will help you avoid costly repairs and severe damage to your property. You’ll also foster a more positive relationship with your residents and ensure you’re in compliance with local housing laws.

Published on Dec 11, 2023 | Updated on Dec 16, 2023

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Preventative maintenance of your rental property minimizes the risk of costly repairs and long-term damage. It also keeps your tenants safe and satisfied, making it likelier they’ll renew their lease. But it can also be unpredictable, tedious, and frustrating. If not done right, rental maintenance can become a nightmare for you and your tenant.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through which maintenance tasks you need to complete and when. We’ve also compiled a comprehensive preventative property maintenance checklist that you can download and keep on hand.

What to include in your preventative property maintenance checklist

When it comes to rental maintenance responsibilities, it’s easy to overlook things, especially if you’re new to being a landlord. That’s where our preventative property maintenance checklist comes in. It’s divided into two parts to cover everything you need to keep your property in top shape, including items you could ask your residents to help you manage. 

Mac's Pro Tip

These checklists can be printed to jot down important maintenance notes. The tenant checklist is also a great piece to share so that your residents are clear on their responsibilities. Your maintenance tasks will vary depending on the type of rental property you own, its age, materials used in its construction, and its overall condition.

While knowing what tasks you must perform is essential, effective maintenance also means knowing how often to do them. Some will demand more time and attention than others, so plan ahead and tackle each project accordingly throughout the year.

A proven strategy to organize your maintenance duties is to sort tasks based on an as-needed or monthly basis and then by season. For smaller items, it may be appropriate to ask for your tenant’s help.

Monthly maintenance

Monthly maintenance is devoted to fixing minor issues to prevent them from worsening. Keep in mind that you can often resolve smaller problems like unclogging a drain without hiring a professional. Remember to bring tools and equipment before visiting the property to ensure you can complete the work. 

Below are examples of monthly maintenance you should do at your rental:

  • Unclog drains
  • Inspect appliances
  • Inspect and clean dishwasher filter
  • Check for leaks and water damage (under sinks, windowsills, toilets, hot water tank)
  • Test thermostat batteries (if applicable)
  • Replenish traps for pest control
  • Repair or replace storm windows and screens
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Inspect and fix outdoor lighting
  • Inspect walkways, steps, and driveways for safety issues; repair as needed 

Seasonal maintenance

Classifying maintenance tasks by season is wise, as each season affects your rental property differently. In general, seasonal maintenance is more time-intensive than monthly maintenance. As a result, ensure you carve out enough time to complete the necessary work and prepare your maintenance budget for more spending than usual.

During the spring and summer, take advantage of the warm weather to conduct plenty of exterior inspections and repairs. In the fall, begin winterizing your rental while temperatures are still favorable. Pay particular attention to areas that may be vulnerable to the cold and snow and remedy the situation as needed. Finally, for properties in colder climates, minimize repairs during the winter by keeping an eye out on moisture from frost build-up, as well as ice blockages in gutters and downspouts. 

Here are examples of preventative maintenance items grouped by season:

  • Change air conditioner filter and service air conditioner unit
  • Refresh caulk and grout in the shower, sink, and bathtub
  • Fertilize lawn
  • Inspect irrigation system
  • Flush water heater
  • Check water fixtures for leaks
  • Prune trees and shrubs
  • Inspect and/or repair septic tank
  • Inspect caulking or weather stripping around windows and doors
  • Inspect missing or damaged roof shingles
  • Inspect and/or repair garage door
  • Inspect kitchen and bathrooms for leaks and water damage
  • Aerate the lawn
  • Touch-up or repaint exterior
  • Inspect attic for moisture
  • Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts
  • Test sump pump
  • Turn on outdoor water taps and inspect for leaks
  • Inspect chimney and fireplace, perform a WETT inspection (if needed)
  • Seal gaps in windows and doors with caulk or weather stripping
  • Cover up bushes and shrubs
  • Seal or stain wooden deck and porch
  • Service HVAC units
  • Disconnect, drain, and store hoses and winterize sprinkler systems
  • Repair cracks or uneven surfaces in walkway and driveway
  • Turn off power to air conditioner
  • Check for frayed cords and faulty electrical wiring
  • Winterize exterior plumbing
  • Install pipe insulation to protect plumbing structures (if needed)
  • Empty and store flowerpots
  • Adjust thermostat for winter temperatures
  • Inspect for drafts around external doors
  • Inspect hot water tank
  • Cover air-conditioning unit
  • Manage moisture from frost build-up around windows
  • Check gutters and downspouts for ice blockage
  • Inspect and service HVAC

Preventative maintenance tasks for your tenant

While a landlord is responsible for a rental property’s maintenance, tenants bear some responsibility for keeping the premises clean at a minimum. Assign a reasonable portion of maintenance responsibilities to your renter and be upfront about your expectations in your lease terms. Be sure to share this preventative maintenance checklist with your resident to help guide them.

Here’s a list of tasks that you can ask your tenant to manage:

  • Clean dryer lint trap after each laundry load
  • Yard and landscape maintenance (remove weeds, water plants, rake leaves)
  • Clean floors and carpeting (sweep, vacuum, mop)
  • Tidy and keep common areas clear for fire safety (entryways, hallways, stairwells) 
  • Replace burnt-out light bulbs 
  • Dispose of garbage and clean recycling bins
  • Check for leaks and water damage (under sinks, windowsills, toilets, hot water tank)

The importance of preventative rental maintenance for landlords

Keeping your property in good condition will ensure your rental business thrives. Here’s how:

Stay compliant with local, state, and federal laws

Rental maintenance isn’t simply a set of chores: it’s required by law. As a landlord, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure your unit is safe and habitable for your residents. That means having sufficient heat, water, electricity, weatherproofing, and sanitary living conditions. There are also minimum standards for electrical work, smoke detectors, and ventilation to prevent hazards.

If your rental is in a state of disrepair, it can draw the attention of your local housing authority. In that case, you may get hit with a fine, lawsuit, or have your permits revoked.

Foster a positive relationship with your tenants

If you don’t address critical repairs promptly, you risk losing your tenant. They’ll opt to move elsewhere instead of putting up with a rental unit that is slowly falling apart.

In extreme cases, your tenant may pursue legal action against you, which means you could end up fighting a lengthy and costly civil or criminal case in court. 

To gain your tenant’s trust, confidence, and cooperation, strive to fix all maintenance issues in a reasonable time frame, especially if it negatively impacts their quality of life.

In fact, many states have laws that stipulate a minimum amount of time you have to deal with emergency repairs. For example, depending on your rental location, you may have three to seven days to fix a broken furnace during cold weather.

Preserve your property’s condition and value

Failing to carry out routine maintenance can quickly impact you financially, as costly repairs will drive up your expenses. Legal battles with the local housing authority and tenants can also take their financial toll, as can insurance deductibles, should you need to file an insurance claim following an incident that causes severe damage.

The consequences are clear: if you neglect your rental’s maintenance duties, its condition will deteriorate over time, along with its value.

Keep your rental marketable

If your rental’s condition isn’t up to par, fewer tenants will be willing to sign a lease with you. Extended vacancies will become the norm, and the lost rent will slowly chip away at your income. On the other hand, by keeping your rental in good order and attending to maintenance requests promptly, tenants will be more than happy to renew their lease.

Our final thoughts

Maintaining a rental can be overwhelming and confusing for the uninitiated. Before any minor issues lead to hefty repair bills and a sour relationship with your tenant, use a preventative property maintenance checklist. You’ll know exactly what areas to pay attention to and when to schedule any related work. 

You may still need outside help occasionally, despite your best efforts to keep your property in solid condition. Learn more about how to manage rental property maintenance issues and how to hire professionals like an electrician, furnace repair person, and a roofing contractor.

Learn more about Maintenance

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