Paycheck Chronicles

Rental Property Requires Upkeep

I am an accidental landlord.  Well, sort of.  I never said, "Oh, I want to own rental property!"  But we bought a house, and PCSed, and decided to rent it out.  Ten years later, we did the same thing.  We have been very fortunate that it has worked out well for us.  (Knock on wood.)

One lesson that was hard for me to learn is how much money goes into keeping a rental property in good shape.  Sure, you have to fix stuff when it breaks, but there is so much more to it.  Here's a small list of things that need to be maintained:

  • walls painted
  • carpets replaced
  • vinyl or linoleum floors replaced
  • hardwood floors  refinished
  • windows replaced, if they are lousy to start
  • toilet seats replaced (ick!)
  • locks changed
  • new refrigerators
  • new dishwashers
  • new stoves
  • new ovens
  • kitchen overhauls
  • sliding glass doors replaced or resealed
  • wonky screen doors replaced
  • roofs repairs or replaced
  • fences kept in good condition
  • weatherstripping and/or insulation
  • hot water heaters replaced
  • heating systems replaced
  • air conditioning systems replaced
  • fireplaces and chimneys inspected and kept safe
  • exteriors washed
  • large scale gardening done:  pruning or removing large trees, pulling fast-growing vines off chimneys, etc.
  • exterior trim painted
  • front doors painted
  • electrical outlets repaired
  • shutters painted
  • concrete kept clean and in good condition
You know what is the most depressing thing about this list?  I know that I've forgotten a ton of things!

As a landlord, you can let some things go, some of the time, but it will all catch up with you eventually.  Personally, I'd rather fix one or two things each year than deal with an entire house in need of extensive repairs.

If you are considering becoming a landlord, or you are new to the property management business, be sure to consider these issues carefully.  I average yearly repairs at 10-2o% of our income.  Make sure to factor those costs into your figures when you decide whether renting is a good financial decision for you.  One bonus is that you can use repair costs to reduce your taxable income.

Being a landlord can be fun or frightening, stressful or super.  Having a full and realistic understanding of the maintenance costs of having a rental property can go a long way to decreasing the negative parts of being a landlord.

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