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Repair costs

Written by SJA Property Management

SJA offers premier Seattle property management services and serves as the local real estate industry’s most experienced resource for rental property owners.

It’s always bad news when your tenant or tenants call complaining, or even nicely asking, about something that’s broken.

Repairs can be costly, especially if they involve appliances, or roofing, so the fewer of them you have to handle, the better. Unfortunately, unless you’ve written a contract that explicitly states repairs are the tenant’s problem, they are your responsibility. In some cases, they might not be, but you should be very careful when differentiating between the two.

When the Repair Isn’t Your Issue

If the damage was caused by vandalism or direct negligence on the part of the tenant, then it is not your responsibility to fix it. You may take the issue to court if the tenant disagrees with you, but be sure to photograph the issue, and document the damage and how it was caused. Hiring an inspector or third party can be helpful as well. In some cases, such as very small damaged items like cabinet handles, it’s not really worth the trouble. For larger items, like cockroaches due to tenants leaving trash out, it could be worth the trouble. If the damage is caused by natural wear and tear, natural use, faulty machinery, or other issues not technically the tenants fault, it is your responsibility.

How to Reduce Repairs Costs

If you’re making repairs frequently, then costs add up, as does time expenditure. Consider the following tips for reducing costs on making repairs.

Use a Prepaid Phone for Emergency Calls – Setting up a separate phone for emergency and repair calls is important, so that you can differentiate between calls, but it can be costly to maintain a separate phone line. Consider using a cheap flip phone with pre-paid minutes so you don’t have a large monthly bill.

Set Repair Days for Non-Emergency Repairs – If you have a lot of units, setting a specific day aside to make repairs, such as Monday’s, can help you to reduce costs. Hiring a repairman to come out to do all of the repairs at once is usually more cost effective than having him or her come out separately throughout the week. Check the time to respond listed in your tenant’s contracts, and if possible, set the repairs for the maximum of that time. Of course, tenants are usually happier if you respond to issues as quickly as possible, so try to handle them at least once a week.

Insurance – Make sure that your property is insured. If you’re buying appliances for your tenants, you should also consider paying extra for the 5-year service contract, as you will almost always have to have the machine serviced several times within that period. Home insurance, liability, and natural disaster insurance are also important, because together, they cover most of the major things that can go wrong with your property.

Set up a Maintenance Contract – If you have a maintenance contract with a single business, they will likely offer better rates than for individual calls. Just read the contract carefully and compare costs before you sign it.

Hire a Kirkland Property Management Company – It might not seem like a good deal to hire someone to save money, but a Kirkland property management company can save you money on repairs. Kirkland Property Managers have contracts with large repair companies, which means that you get discounts that you wouldn’t be able to get on your own. The cost is a small percentage of the rent each month, but you also get full management, so you save time as well.

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