There are certain things landlords should do every year to help protect their real estate investments, stay organized, and generally make things easier and better in the long run. However, many investors with rental properties don’t think of these tasks, or they don’t bother doing them.
Create a checklist (or a spreadsheet if you own multiple rental properties or units) with these things landlords should do every year. Then, make it a priority to check the items off on an annual basis.
Often-Overlooked Yearly Tasks for Landlords
- Recalculate fair market rental value. As you probably know, the rental market goes up and down. Each year, recalculate the fair market rental value of your properties. If you don’t, you may be charging lower rents than you should, losing out on profits, or you may be overpricing and experiencing vacancy as a result.
- Test the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. You’re responsible for having working smoke alarms in your rental properties, and in some places, you may be required to have working carbon monoxide detectors too. Check the batteries and the condition every year to be sure these safety devices are functioning properly.
- Make sure your keys still work. As a landlord, you need keys to enter your properties. But sometimes, tenants change the locks for various reasons. You don’t want to learn that your keys no longer work when you need to get in, or when you give a key to a maintenance worker who you’re paying by the hour.
- Check your insurance rates. Rents aren’t the only thing that fluctuate regularly. One of the more overlooked things landlords should do every year is shop around for the best insurance rates. You can get quotes online or by calling an agent, and be sure to find out about any special deals for new customers.
- Update contact information for your tenants. Every year, reach out to your tenants to confirm that you have their correct current cell phone numbers and email addresses on file. Also, check that you have current contact information for an emergency contact.
- Look for water leaks. Water leaks can be quite costly over time on your water bill, and they can also be a warning sign of a problem that can become very expensive if it’s not caught and fixed early on. Not to mention they can cause structural damage and mold. Inspect your properties for water spots and check out all the faucets, drains, visible plumbing, the water heater, air conditioning units, and other appliances that use water.
- Change the furnace filters. This is often the tenant’s responsibility, but tenants almost never do it. And if it doesn’t get done, it can become an air quality and fire risk issue. It can also cause the furnace to work harder, leading to increased maintenance costs and a shorter lifetime. Furnace filters only cost about $10 and they’re not complicated to change.
- Clean the gutters. This is an important but often overlooked maintenance task that helps keep your investment property looking good, but it also helps protect your roof and other outdoor elements of the structure. If you don’t want to do it yourself, it’s not expensive to hire a contractor to do it.
- Say “thank you” to your tenants. Remember that your tenants are your customers, and they’re essential for your real estate investments to be successful. A simple act of expressing gratitude like a holiday or thank-you card, a quick phone call, or even a small gift card can go a long way toward making them feel appreciated, keeping them as tenants longer, and creating a pleasant professional relationship.