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Property Management Blog

3 Preventative Maintenance Tips for San Antonio Rental Properties

System - Monday, December 19, 2016

The idea behind rental property preventative maintenance is to fix something today that if put off would cost more dollars in the future. We’re sharing some landlord tips for preventative maintenance, but to illustrate this point, I have a story to share. 

How a $300 Repair Became a $20,000 Problem 

About 15 years ago, I was working with a seller in San Antonio. He had a handful of duplexes he wanted to unload, and I had investors who wanted to purchase them. With one particular property, I asked the owner about the tenants, and he told me the tenants on the left side had only been there for three or four months and everything was fine. The tenant on the right side had been the perfect tenant. He had lived there for eight years and paid rent on time and never called to complain or report repair issues. 

We ordered the inspections to be done, and the inspector went through one side of the duplex and found little to do. On the other side, the inspector found some items that were alarming. The supply line from the kitchen faucet to the dishwasher had a crack in it and was spraying a mist of water into the kitchen cabinet and the wall behind it. The second item was that the vent pipe on the roof for the water heater was leaking and water had come down the pipe and into the wall and the return air chase for the air conditioning system. The problem with this is that these issues had been ongoing. They would have been easy to observe. If you reached under the sink to grab some dishwashing liquid, you would have seen the water leak. If you changed your air conditioning filter, you would have seen mold growing in the return air chase.  

That mold was toxic and had spread throughout the property. A company had to replace the drywall and the cabinets and deal with the mold in the ducting. It cost over $20,000 to fix. If the tenant had called right away when these issues happened, it would have cost $75 to replace the supply line to the dishwasher and maybe $200 to get someone on the roof to fix the flashing. So, a $300 issue became a $20,000 problem. This is why you want to deal with preventative maintenance. To avoid spending more. 

Landlord Tips: Communication 

Communicate with your tenant, and make sure your tenants are communicating with you. Your renters need to keep you abreast of any problems going on at your property. Encourage this communication. We want to know when the soap dish falls off in the shower. If we fix the soap dish now, it’s inexpensive. But if water gets behind that wall, we’re looking at $900 to $1,200 to replace the wall. Let your property manager decide what repairs need to be dealt with, but make sure the issues are known. 

Landlord Tips: Annual Walk Through 

This doesn’t have to be an elaborate inspection; just a basic walk through that takes five minutes. You can look under the sinks and shine your flashlight to look for leaks. Check for loose wall tiles in the shower and bath and check to see if water is splashing out anywhere. When you’re going through the unit, look at the windows and check the roof. Walk the exterior and see if tree limbs are on the roof or close to it. 

Landlord Tips: Filter Changes 

The air conditioning filter should be changed monthly. Educate your tenant at the lease signing so they know you expect this. Explain to the tenants why it will save money and avoid repair bills. If you have any questions about rental property preventative maintenance or San Antonio property management, please contact us at Terra Realty.

Greg Briggs
Terra Realty and Management


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Terra Realty & Management Group, Inc.
12061 Starcrest
San Antonio, TX 78247

Phone: 210-349-9966
Fax: 210-496-3464

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