Vacation rental property maintenance is one of the most important tasks that you will have as a property owner. In fact, a landlord is required by local laws to ensure that their properties are safe and meet health and building standards.
Yet, many owners have identified it as one of their biggest challenges. Considering that it calls for a lot of attention, time, and money, it does not really come as a big surprise.
To help you take the stress out of vacation rental property maintenance, here are some practical tips and a useful checklist. From checking for a broken appliance to more important tasks like ensuring smoke detectors are at all times operational, continue reading to find out what needs to be checked by whom and when.
Regular vacation rental property maintenance consists of specific tasks that prevent or slow down the normal wear and tear of your vacation rental property.
Regular maintenance is important for various reasons. Not only does it help to ensure the safety of your guests or long-term tenants, but it also has long-term benefits for you as a property owner.
Here are three of the main reasons why you should start prioritizing seasonal maintenance of your rental property moving forward:
The focus of vacation rental property maintenance should not only be to prevent bigger repairs, but also to maintain and, where possible, improve the guest experience. By making a point of checking your property often, you can spot issues before a guest does.
The last thing you want is for a guest to have to message you about a leaky faucet in the early hours of the morning. Not only will it be more difficult for you to find an available handyman, but you also run the risk of getting a bad review.
A stitch in time saves nine! It is cheaper to maintain than to replace. Not only can it lower repair costs and replacement expenses, but it can also prevent you from having to deal with several potentially costly repairs at the same time.
Overall rental property maintenance expenses are also generally lower if you do them often enough and do not wait for the last minute.
Regular routine maintenance will take less time than dealing with the bigger problem of something going wrong later down the line. Plus, by completing routine maintenance checks, you can avoid downtime where you won’t be able to take bookings, which will negatively impact your rental property income.
For example, make a point to check for leaks regularly, especially after you have had significant rain. When left unchecked, water damage can weaken the structural integrity of rental properties. So, fixing a small leak now can save you loads of money and troubles. In fact, it can be the difference between a small roof repair now, versus having to replace an entire rotting roof.
A number of property managers suggest that vacation rental owners should save 1% of the total value of the property for property maintenance per year specifically. Though, if your property is older, you will most likely need to set aside more to be able to cover your rental property maintenance costs.
Other factors that can also play a factor in your annual maintenance costs include the cost of living in the area and the location. For example, coastal properties generally have higher living costs and more rental property maintenance expenses.
Also, if you know that you have a big property expense that is due soon, like repainting the exterior, you might want to consider setting aside as much as 50% of all your short-term rental income.
Alternatively, you can use the square-footage formula or the monthly rental formula approach to calculate how much you will need to set aside for property maintenance. With the square footage rule, the estimate is $1 per square foot per year. When using the latter, all your yearly maintenance costs (this includes repairs, vacation rental insurance, and property tax) are estimated at 1.5 times your monthly rental income.
Then, you will also need to plan for capital improvements. Property investors can typically save about 5% of the gross rental income for upgrading major appliances like the water heater or improving the roof in the future.
Keep in mind, that maintenance costs should also be kept separate from your daily operating expenses.
There are some tasks that should be done every week and month versus every season and year. For example, it is best to check for water leaks and damage after a heavy rainfall or the snow has started to melt. Here are a few more examples of when hosts should perform certain routine maintenance tasks:
To help you properly maintain your vacation rental property all-year round, you will find that you will probably need extra help. Here are some examples of tools that can help you and other tips to ensure your property is maintained come rain or shine.
Even though some tasks only need to be completed once a year, the same does not apply when it comes to inspecting your property. It is advised that you complete a routine inspection once a quarter by walking around your property.
On top of that, it is also a good idea to complete the occasional drive-by inspection. By making a point of driving by your property on different days and at different times, you will be able to identify potential issues that could cause property damage.
Also, things could look much different depending on the time of day or season. For example, your garden might look much less spectacular in the morning than late at night which could prompt you to focus more on landscaping.
General rental property maintenance is the landlord’s responsibility, so in the context of a vacation rental, this responsibility falls on the professional property manager or short-term rental owner.
Though, it’s important to make guests aware of the tenant’s responsibility too. In the case of damage to the property, guests can be held accountable for repairs. However it stands, it is key that you take the time to write out a clear policy in the event of damage. This should be included in your house rules and communicated to your guests before their stay.
Usually, it is standard practice that guests have to report any issues within 24 hours to the landlord. Failure to do this could mean that they will be held responsible for the costs of the repairs. It can also be a good idea to charge a damage waiver fee or security deposit.
The damage waiver fee or security deposit will provide extra cover in the case of intentional or accidental damage and provides an alternative to getting your guests to pay for repairs after the damage has happened, which could be challenging.
Whichever additional security measure you choose to implement, just make sure that you communicate it clearly in your lease agreement or house rules.
The good news is that, depending on your set of skills, experience, and available time, you might be able to complete some of the rental maintenance jobs on your own. Not only will the DIY route help you to save money, but it can actually be rewarding. That said, it is good to get a professional in for more technical tasks.
Efficient communication can help to identify and resolve issues quickly. When the lines of communication are open between you, your staff, and your guests, it means that they can notify you easily when they see that the rental properties need maintenance and repair work.
To streamline guest and team communication, hosts can also use vacation rental software like iGMS. iGMS can help you to manage the following routine tasks with the help of automation:
Just like it is a good idea to use a cleaning checklist to keep your property clean, creating a dedicated checklist for property maintenance tasks can also help you to save time and ensure that everything gets checked. Plus, it will give you extra peace of mind knowing that you have recently checked that your property is safe.
Depending on your specific property, different rules of thumb will apply to different areas and appliances. Here are examples of the most important tasks that you will want to add to your vacation rental property maintenance checklist:
If there is one mindset change that you can make today it is to approach vacation rental property maintenance as a year-round responsibility. Sadly, there is no set-it-and-forget-it approach. Some tasks will require more attention throughout the year, while other jobs you can leave for once a year.
It might sound like a lot of work to wrap your head around, but if you do it regularly you will save yourself many headaches down the line. Plus, it can actually be more profitable in the end. Not only will you prevent costly replacements, but it is one of the best ways to ensure that you maintain your property value over time and that your guests remain happy.
About the Author
Callan Riddles is the Content and Social Media Specialist at iGMS. Callan has a passion for finding new ways to help vacation rental businesses thrive. In her free time, she loves to travel, read, and experience all the new things that life has to offer.
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