Managing a successful multi-family property requires some serious multitasking. Whether you’re a landlord or a property manager, you’ve got plenty of duties that need your attention every day, and there will always be a never-ending stream of maintenance requests.
Some maintenance, like landscaping and cleaning common areas, is fairly routine and easy to plan, but other requests seem to come out of nowhere. No matter how organized you try to remain, you’ll never be able to completely foresee everything that might break down or wear out at any given time.
Through regular preventative maintenance, however, multi-family property operators can help prevent – or at least limit – the need for sudden repairs and replacements, boosting resident confidence and satisfaction, while making the property manager’s job a lot less hectic.
Not only will regular preventative maintenance add needed organization to the management of a multi-family property but maintaining its facilities will save money otherwise spent on last-minute repairs, while protecting the overall investment. Just consider how much it might cost to repair some pipes when the leaking water is but a trickle. Now imagine the cost if that leak is neglected and instead floors, carpets, drywall and paint all have to be replaced.
Effective preventative maintenance isn’t something that can be planned for one day a year. Careful scheduling is required. Rather than performing all annual jobs on a single apartment during the same day, some multi-family property managers will stagger the dates so they can take a look at the property during each season.
How often you need to work on preventative maintenance depends partially on the size of your multi-family property. A building housing eight families might be able to schedule all its annual preventative maintenance tasks in a couple of days a month, while a property with 20 or more family units might need to dedicate time each week in order to get everything completed.
Create a Preventative Maintenance Checklist
Of course, in order to create an efficient schedule, you’ll need to organize a checklist of all the preventative maintenance tasks, with details on how long they typically take and how often they should be completed. The entire checklist should be completed at least once a year for every property, but a few of the tasks will need to be done more frequently.
As every multi-family property is different, there is no one-size-fits-all checklist. There are certain maintenance categories, however, that will almost always need to be included:
1. Water Leaks and Damage
Water can be a multi-family property manager’s worst nightmare. Leaks can start small and very quickly do a lot of damage to buildings. When walking through a property, pay attention to all water sources and watch for any leaks, drips, puddles or other areas of water collection. Be sure faucets and toilets are functioning properly and have no leaks. Also, examine ceilings and walls for any signs of water damage.
2. Roof and Gutters
It’s important to check on the condition of every building’s roof, checking for water or storm damage that could become a costly issue. Be sure there is no damage to shingles and other roofing materials. Ensure the gutters are always clear and clean so that water flows away from the property.
3. Ceiling and Drywall
Look for any cracks or damages on all ceilings and drywall, making small touch-ups as needed so they don’t expand.
4. Shower Caulk and Grout
Look over the caulk and grout in the property’s showers, watching for signs of wear and age. Adding caulk as needed will keep water contained and help prevent stray leaks and drips that might cause a bigger issue if allowed to fester.
5. Pest Control
Every building should be completely examined for possible pest issues at least once a year. These sorts of problems can quickly escalate when neglected, and no landlord ever wants to get calls from tenants that insects or rodents are invading their personal space.
6. Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
One of the most beneficial tasks associated with preventative maintenance involves keeping every building’s smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors functioning. At least once a year when you or your team are in an apartment test all of these devices and check their batteries to make sure they are working properly.
7. HVAC and Water Heaters
Preventative maintenance can limit or even prevent potential HVAC and water heater malfunctions, boosting system performance, improving energy efficiency and extending a system’s overall lifetime. The most basic HVAC maintenance is simply changing the air filters between two and four times each year. Water heaters should also be flushed twice a year in order to eliminate sediment that can create dirty water.
Most HVAC maintenance must be completed by a skilled contractor. Motili offers multi-family property operators a nationwide network of more than 2,000 contractors, and its asset and data management technology tracks all of a multi-family property company’s HVAC and hot water properties. The technology analyzes the data generated by every HVAC system and uses it to plan for preventative maintenance and schedule future needs.
Motili’s Multi-Family Asset Management product suite features site inspections, asset tagging, planned and unplanned repairs and replacements, as well as strategic insights and analytics. In fact, Motili-enabled communities have seen their resident satisfaction improve by 20 percent after implementing the Asset Management solution. Plus, since projects are completed by Motili staff and a skilled national network of contractors, property managers’ lives are made easier by a single point of contact for all their HVAC and water heater needs.
Communicate with Your Tenants
It can be tempting for a multi-family property manager to conduct all preventative maintenance when transitioning units between tenants, at the same time they clean carpets and repair more major damages. With any luck, however, tenants will stay in their apartments longer than a year, so this practice can be inefficient for effective preventative maintenance.
Instead, it’s important to share the preventative maintenance schedule with tenants while they are living on the property. Not only does this maintain the overall preventative maintenance schedule, but it gives the property manager a chance to observe any other issues that might be happening in the unit. It also shows tenants that their home is a value to the multi-family company. Just be sure to schedule these maintenance times with tenants well in advance and communicate realistic expectations of what will be occurring.