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Property Maintenance Facts

As property managers we encounter many property related repairs through the life cycle of many homes and recommend a site visit with us to meet and discuss the overall condition of your home and preparation to become a rental unit.

Smoke Detectors
In all jurisdictions a “rental unit” must have a working smoke detector on every floor. It is imperative, as you prepare a property, that all smoke detectors are operating correctly at the time we place a tenant. Your lease with the tenant certifies that you are delivering the property with working smoke detectors.

Fireplaces (gas and wood burning)
Some of the challenges we face with fireplaces is usability and tenant expectation of having a working fireplace. Gas fireplaces often have issues with the thermocouple being dirty or the gas lines having air in the line. It is important to have your fireplace operating at the time of turn over to avoid service calls. Wood burning fireplaces also have usability concerns regarding health and safety. After the earth quake several years ago we found many damaged flue tiles as well as excessive residue so we recommend a cleaning and inspection prior to your departure.

Washer and Dryer
The most common problem we see with washers is old hoses, creating a risk of real property damage due to a leak. We recommend replacing hoses with stainless steel braided hoses for hot and cold lines. The most common problem we see with dryers is the vent so we recommend you have it cleaned or replace the vent hose with a new aluminum vent and have it checked for proper flow to avoid fire risks and poor ventilation.

The most costly repair expense in a home is appliances. Consider the age and the extent of use of your appliances. Frequently when we are called to repair built-in microwaves it is usually cheaper in the long run to just replace it unless you have a home warranty. Depending on the age of an appliance we do recommend replacement but that often depends on the make or model. A home warranty does limit your exposure to cost, after any deductible. Further, consider the possibility of a furnace failure. What would it cost to replace?

Water Heaters
The water heater is the one appliance which can greatly impact a property in terms of a failure. Considering the cost of replacement versus the cost of the clean up after a leak? It is wise to consider replacing a water heater that is older than 10 years. It is not out of the realm of possibility to be required to temporarily relocate a tenant due to the severe damage that 50+ gallons of water leaking into your home can do to flooring and drywall, even possibly damaging the adjoining unit, causing an expensive insurance claim.

It is prudent to have the furnace serviced and a new filter installed before you depart.

This one appliance creates more issues than any other appliance in the home. Not only is it costly to repair, it is also law that you provide heat and cooling. Lack of either constitutes a “denial of service” in both Virginia and DC code, so the age, condition and overall maintenance of the HVAC system is very important. If you have a Heat Pump or Electric HVAC system in excess of 15 years please consider the potential risks of failure or major repair. A gas furnace will last longer but will require more maintenance over its life than an electric furnace.

Water Source Furnace. (usually Condos)
Please let us know if you have a water source furnace and make sure the supply valve is open in the fall. It is really helpful to know which is winter mode and summer mode so the tenant can do it on their own.

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Garage Door Opener
Garage door openers are usually very reliable but from time to time it is good to have them serviced. The average service runs about $150.00 which includes cleaning, grease and adjusting the sensors. To replace the unit runs about $400.00.

We recommend that all the spigot and water main valves are clearly and properly labeled in case of an emergency. We send out four (4) email reminders annually to your tenant reminding them to shut off all exterior water supply lines to the outside spigots. It is important that they can find them quickly and easily. We will walk your tenant through the property and show them these valves upon move in.

Toilets should be working and not leaking water from the tank into the bowl. If your toilets are older units with older valves we recommend replacing the tank kit, which tends to last about 3 to 5 years. Plumbers are one of the most expensive tradesmen, so if you can avoid a service call it is prudent to do some preventative repairs. The same goes for faucets. If you have a leaky faucet it is good to get it repaired early before it becomes an emergency.

Gutters and Downspouts
Proper drainage in a home is essential. We see damp basements due to poor drainage and some simple steps can be taken to avoid moisture and water infiltration. We will be happy to discus this during our initial inspection.

Sump Pump
A working sump pump is critical and can not be overlooked when you are a landlord. We recommend a battery back-up system if your pump is part of a stairwell drainage system or if you reside in an area like Alexandria or Washington DC near the SW waterfront. Certain areas are prone to high hydraulic ground water pressure which require frequent sump pump use and if you feel you are in one of these areas please bring it to our attention.

The Importance of Determining if Your Property is Rent Ready