Landlord Toolbox

Property Maintenance

Managing Your Rental
Once you’re a rental property owner you’ll need to carefully review the unit for issues or concerns that require your immediate attention. By looking again at the results of the inspection report that was received prior to closing, you may find structural concerns or other problems that need to be repaired before the space can be rented. Other cosmetic repairs like cracked ceilings or chipped paint should be made if your budget and time allows. We’ve put together a list of rental preparation and maintenance tips for you to review so your new rental will operate smoothly for months and years to come.

The expenses you’ll encounter as a new landlord can sometimes surprise you. Furnaces will need replacement, roofs will start leaking and the cost for these repairs can climb into the thousands. But by preparing and maintaining your rental property correctly, you’re more likely to spend less on the cost of repairs and you’ll be keeping your equipment in good working order which can help to extend its life.

Put aside cash from each rental payment

Ensure you have money for maintenance costs by estimating annual maintenance costs around one and a half times the monthly rent.

The Legalities of Being a Rental Property Owner


You or your property management company are responsible for keeping the space in good repair. Tenants are owed certain accommodations under state and local laws that helps to ensure their health and safety while living in your rental. There’s a “warranty of habitability” you promise to uphold as a landlord which pledges that the space is livable, safe and clean. The locks should work properly and all portals to the outside — like doors and windows — should seal the elements out. In many cases, this warranty extends to providing hot water all year long and heat in the winter. Review the warranty of habitability statues in your area to be sure you’re complying with the local and state laws. Be sure to carefully document issues that arise when the rental’s habitability is at stake. Mark down the date and time you were informed of the issue. You may be required by law to resolve the issue within a given timeframe.

When Should a Landlord Sign a Short-term Lease?

Depending on the types of tenants found in the neighborhood of your rental, you may gain a bigger profit by renting your space out for short-term leasing. Areas with large student populations are good for this type of rental because students commute over the summer and don’t plan on purchasing furniture for the place while in town. And furnished apartments typically rent for more.

One important note, short-term leasing can take its toll on an unfurnished space with increased frequency of moving into and out of the space. To keep this type of damage to a minimum, require that tenants protect the floors, carpets and walls during these transitions. Charging a nonrefundable deposit to have the space professionally cleaned after your tenant exits can further increase the longevity of the space and it will look great when you’re showing it to prospective tenants.

Invest in Upgrades That Boost Resale Value and Rental Price

Look for upgrades that help the space in more than one way. If you’re thinking about investing in exterior lighting for your property, it may be worth the price to spend a bit more and purchase motion sensing floodlights that activate web-enabled video cameras. New Internet of Things tech is emerging every day, sending alerts with status and security updates. Help keep your tenant’s air conditioning bills low and better protect the rental from burglary with a security system. By proactively protecting your space, you’ll also attract high quality tenants with amenities like these.

Time Your Rental Upgrades

Take a look at our strategies for making upgrades to rental properties, so you'll know what to do - and when.

Make minor repairs and upgrades during tenant occupancy. Build a clause in your lease agreement that states the landlord is allowed to schedule work to be done during the term of the lease. By scheduling major repairs well in advance, you can time the completion date to go back on the market when tenant demand is highest.

Protect Your Rental With Landlord Insurance

By purchasing landlord insurance you can both protect your investment carefully and help protect your savings if the unexpected should happen. That’s where our expert agents can step in and help you create a customized policy — tailored to meet the needs of your rental. After completing any significant amount of work on your space, remember to contact your agent to review your insurance requirements. You’ll find affordable coverage you deserve, taking comfort with the knowledge that your investments are well-protected.

Additional Reading