Challenges of being a landlord: Turnover Maintenance Edition
It might come as surprise, but the biggest challenges in property management, often have nothing to do with the properties themselves.
When it comes to being a landlord, each part of the process of having owning a rental property can have each of its own unique challenges. This series allows us to talk about some of those major challenges and how you can overcome them, or at least, be better prepared for them! This edition is all about turnover maintenance, and one of the most dreaded challenges out there.
In our previous post yesterday, I mentioned the mysterious land of unicorns, rainbows, and sweet fairies who help you do your chores, so let’s take a visit back there and how the maintenance turnover cycle SHOULD go for your rental property:
In theory, the turnover maintenance cycle should look something like this.
Whether this is your first property and it’s vacant, or you had a tenant move out you should always perform a very detailed and thorough inspection, with photos, and even video if necessary. If this is preparing your first rental, you can never have enough documentation about the condition the first tenant is taking on the property in. If your tenant just moved you, you need to have that same level of documentation to be able to justify withholding any funds from their deposit. That is day one – inspection and documentation!
Day 2 – you need to find the best contractors for the job to handle each of the repairs needed to get the property in the right shape for a new tenant to move in. Typically, this is going to be about 5 different vendors. Cleaning, carpet cleaning, painting, landscaping, and maintenance repairs. While this is all happening you need to be able to figure out when the property will be ready for an open house.
Day 3 – you should receive bids from all your vendors that you chose to use so that you can decide what to move forward with, set up payment, and get the work going. If the bids are insufficient, then you move on to other vendors until you find a solution that works best for your wallet, and your timeline.
Before paying any vendor, make sure that their job is sufficient. This is also why you need to inspections prior to anyone setting foot in there to work. You have the baseline of condition to know if a vendor accidentally breaks something, or does a poor job.
This puts you somewhere around 5 – 6 days, sometimes even more during the busy season and you do not have vendors in your network that give you priority. During high turnover months, cleaning companies, Landscapers and Carpet Cleaners can be booked out more than 2 weeks! That just racking up the days of vacancy between tenants, or to get your first one in there! Which is cash right out of your pocket.
Set expectations with your vendors up front, before and after photos can help you save trips to the property! Having a property turnover in 10 days is the general timeline you should aim for!
Challenge #1 – Getting Responses
Getting a vendor to make you a priority, or get to a property within 24 hours of your initial call can be incredibly challenging. Getting a vendor to call you back at all can also be a problem. Especially during the busy season if you haven’t worked with a vendor before, they have no real incentive to make your property a priority for them. Often times you can call and asks for bids and actually never end up even receiving one. They don’t usually admit it, but bids can stay on the pile of to do for quite a while during the busy season while they are out doing jobs they are already guaranteed to get paid for. This can make your timeline exceptionally longer than it needs to be. Ultimately you need to micromanage all of your vendors and follow up religiously to make sure that your turnover maintenance timeline is as short as possible. Vacant days = money right out of your pocket. In our world of property management, we unfortunately have to manage someone else’s poor business practices to ensure we manage to stick to the strict turnover maintenance timeline which is in the best interest of the property owner, and potential tenants.
Challenge # 2 – Insufficient, or Incomplete work
I wish we could say that we don’t run into this often, but even the best vendors have mistakes happen, new employees on projects, and things just don’t turn out the way we hoped. Walking into your rental property where you expected to see a complete paint job, only to see it splattered on the floors, on the switch plate covers, and on fixtures can be really frustrating. This again, adds time to your vacancy rate, and during the busy season it can be a real struggle to get the vendor to go back out and take care of insufficient, or incomplete work. We have even had some real unfortunate cases were a carpet cleaning company made an entire property smell awful because they didn’t take the extra precautionary drying steps, which delayed an open house full of potential renters.
There are of course other challenges when it comes to turnover maintenance, but those two are ones that can really set you back. To help lessen the pains of having to go through those, make sure that you take that very first step of properly inspecting the unit and having excellent documentation. This can help with both challenges. Keep track of all your vendor’s schedules and tell them when you expect after photos. Also make sure to establish payment expectations. If the vendor is net 30, net 15, or requires payment upon completion. Depending on your situation having a contractor who is able to do net 30 may assist you in minimizing your out of pocket upfront expenses.
Stay tuned for our next post in the series: Renewal Time!
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