As a landlord, there are steps you can take to make your property less vulnerable to wear and tear. You don’t need to worry about making it unpleasant or unlivable…just evaluate the appointments and decor of your property on a cost/value basis. Think about minimizing exterior maintenance costs by:
- Using neutral colors when painting the outside of the building,
- Investing in landscaping that minimizes initial cost and ongoing upkeep (e.g., rock rather than lawn or artificial vs. real grass),
- Avoiding/removing amenities that can cause liability and/or maintenance issues (e.g., swingsets, barbecues, etc.)
- Ensuring walkways, driveways, etc. are properly paved to avoid liability for tenant falls.
Likewise, interior maintenance costs can be minimized by:
- Installing wooden or ceramic tile floors within the units, which look better for much longer than carpet flooring,
- For property units that do have carpet, make sure you choose a carpet that wears well and resists staining and dirt as much as possible. In addition, note in the tenancy agreement that the tenantsmust have the carpet cleaned at the end of their tenure.
- Turning the water heater down to 120 degrees, which helps minimize both heating costs and scalding incidents while still hot enough to kill bacteria.
- Ensuring windows open/close properly to minimize heating/air conditioning costs and maximize tenant security.
- Repairing leaky faucets in a timely manner (make sure tenants know to call you right away should a problem arise) to minimize water waste, which can be costly in California
- Keeping as many wires unexposed as possible and only allowing tenants access to necessary switches, outlets, or fuse boxes.
- Installing doorstops and wall bumpers throughout the rental unit.
- Investing in quality countertops that best stand up to the daily tenant use, thus minimizing upkeep, such as caulking and grout repair.
- Replacing smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries every year.
- Changing the filters in your heating or air conditioning unit at least twice a year.
The tenant must give the landlord a reasonable period of time to repair his unit once a problem is reported. The law usually considers 30 days to be reasonable, but may be shorter or longer based on the impact of the defect and the type of repair that is needed. A more complete list of both uninhabitable conditions and tenant requirements is available at: http://dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtml