Learning the basics of managing property in Bellevue, Washington is a lot of work, especially when you consider the myriad of rules and responsibilities put on landlords. With new restrictions, new requirements such as registering your rental units, you do have to learn a great deal before you can properly manage apartments or rental houses. If you’re just getting into the swing of things, the following include items that you have to save for, budget in and hire someone to maintain for you.

“Fit For Human Habitation”

The basic rule when calculating maintenance is that it is your responsibility to keep your apartments fit for human habitation. From that, you can quickly create a list of items that you have to keep up with. Some examples include:

  • Heating and Cooling
  • Garbage Disposal
  • Cleaning the Exterior (on Apartment Complexes)
  • Ensuring that Doors and Windows are Properly Sealed
  • Preventive Maintenance
  • Removal or Repair of Dangerous Items such as Broken Floorboards
  • Insurance
  • Lawn, Yard, and Garden
  • Exterior Curb Appeal
  • Electric repair and maintenance
  • Painting
  • Carpentry
  • Regular Cleaning
  • Hardware Fixtures
  • Lighting

If tenants break something or purposely damage it themselves, it is their responsibility to pay for it, but you may still be required to fix it. You can deduct the bill from the tenants deposit or charge them directly for the costs. This does not work if the damage is caused by normal usage, wear and tear, or an improper installation.  You also have to prove that something was damaged on purpose if you want to charge for it, in case the tenant tries to get their money back. Taking photos keeping them is one way of doing this.

If you’re not sure what is your responsibility or not, the Bellevue City Hall keeps a list of items you are required to update on their website, which they update regularly based on new laws and regulations. For the most part, if it is required to keep the apartment in the same condition as when you rented it out, then it is probably your responsibility. If it is an unwarranted upgrade or replacement, then it is not. However, you do have to periodically refurbish and improve the apartment, usually when tenants move out, to keep up the market value.

Paying for It

Paying for repairs, maintenance, and refurbishments when units are empty can take up quite a bit of profit, especially if you don’t know where to look for affordable repairs or maintenance. The best policy is to set aside a portion of your profits every month in order to ensure that you have it available to make repairs with. Usually, you should save at least 2-3% of your property value every year for repairs, plus money for rent, insurance and upkeep maintenance. This means saving a percentage of your rent, which can vary depending on the value of your property, your rental amounts, how many units you have full, and what your maintenance company chooses to charge you for the services.

The easiest way to make sure that your rental units are taken care of properly is to hire a Bellevue Property Manager to handle it for you. Even if you just hire one to help while you learn the basics, take classes, or familiarize yourself with local Bellevue law, it can be extremely beneficial in ensuring that you handle everything according to local regulations and keep your tenants happy.