A big part of property management is prevention. Property managers anticipate issues, plan for problems, and execute solutions. For some, a key part of this prevention is to develop a property management preventive maintenance checklist.
For multi-family property managers, a regular preventive maintenance check is standard–and easy. Their properties are often all contained to one apartment building or community, and it’s easy to do a walkthrough to ensure everything is as it should be.
For single-family property managers, it gets a lot more complicated. With scattered-site properties, regular inspections are impractical and expensive. In fact, one of the best ways to approach prevention is to help equip residents to take preventive measures themselves.
At Second Nature, that’s our approach: “How do we make it easy for residents to handle preventive care of the property?” In this article, we’ll explore both approaches to preventive maintenance: Doing inspections as a property manager – or finding solutions where residents support the process.
Let’s dive in.
What is Preventive Maintenance?
Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach to keeping a property in good condition with the purpose of preventing unexpected failures and maximizing longevity.
This type of maintenance encompasses a broad range of activities, from routine inspections (more common in multifamily) to air filter delivery services that keep HVAC systems running smoothly.
By implementing preventive maintenance tactics, property managers aim to prolong the lifespan of property components, maintain property value, and provide a safe, functional, and appealing living environment for residents.
What is a Preventive Maintenance Inspection – and Who Conducts It?
A preventive maintenance inspection is a regularly scheduled, systematic evaluation of a property designed to identify and rectify any emerging issues before they escalate into serious problems.
In other words, a preventive maintenance inspection is like a health check-up for a property. A well-documented inspection also provides a record of maintenance that can be valuable for insurance claims, move-outs, etc.
Generally, SFR property managers find themselves in three different camps when it comes to property inspections:
- Those who visit sites only when an issue arises.
- Those who conduct scheduled annual preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not.
- Those who conduct biannual or seasonal preventive inspections, whether there are issues or not.
But there’s also a fourth option: Those who rely on a partner who helps manage prevention for them. There is so much residents can do themselves to prevent larger issues from ever developing – they just need a little support.
For example, if a resident is changing their air filter on time, the property manager is going to get fewer HVAC tickets, and the HVAC system is going to last longer. If you can provide scheduled air filter delivery, residents can stay on top of their filter changes.
Whichever of the camps you fall into, we want to provide you with resources in this article to make preventive maintenance easier.
- If you’re the type of property manager who prioritizes regular preventive maintenance inspections, we have a checklist template for you below.
- If you’re the type of property manager who prefers to react when issues arise (often more cost-effective), we have some suggestions for how to help residents manage preventive measures on their own.
What to Include in a Preventive Maintenance Checklist
Let’s say you do prioritize regular inspections. Crafting a preventive maintenance checklist for property management is all about anticipating needs and averting potential issues before they arise.
Building your checklist begins with a thorough assessment of the property's unique features and vulnerabilities. By understanding the life cycle of various components of a property across the seasons – from HVAC systems to appliances – you can prioritize tasks and schedule maintenance in a way that minimizes wear and tear.
Your checklist will likely include the following categories:
- Structural Maintenance
- Electrical Systems
- Plumbing & Water Systems
- HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
- Appliances (if provided)
- Lawn & Outdoor Areas
- Pest Control
- Safety & Security Systems
- Interior Checks
- Miscellaneous (Garage, waste disposal, etc.)
Sample Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Property Management Companies
With input from OnSightPROS, we’ve built a preventive maintenance checklist template for single-family rental property management companies. Use this template as-is or tweak it to fit your property needs!
If you want a downloadable and more in-depth template for all types of rental inspections, check out our original post on rental inspection checklists and Get the download here.
- Roofing: Inspect for leaks, damaged tiles, or shingles. Check gutters and downspouts.
- Foundation: Check for cracks, water damage, or shifting.
- Walls and ceilings: Look for cracks, dampness, and signs of mold.
- Safety checks: Ensure that outlets, switches, and wiring are in good condition.
- Lighting: Regularly test all indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures.
- Inspect circuit breakers and panels.
Plumbing & Water Systems
- Drains and pipes: Check for leaks or buildup.
- Water heater: Test hot water temperature and pressure relief valves and inspect for signs of wear.
- Faucets and fixtures: Ensure proper flow and check for leaks.
HVAC Systems (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
- Filters: Ensure they are up to date. With Second Nature’s Air Filter Delivery, you’ll have the date stamped right on the filter itself.
- Ductwork: Check for mold or leaks.
- Seasonal checks: Ensure the heating system is ready for winter and cooling for summer.
Appliances (if provided)
- Oven, range, microwave: Check for cleanliness and ensure they are working efficiently.
- Refrigerator: Check coils and inspect seals.
- Washer and dryer: Inspect hoses and ensure the resident is keeping lint and drainage clean.
Lawn & Outdoor Areas
- Landscaping: Ensure that the landscaping is tidy and up to HOA standards, if applicable.
- Paths and driveways: Check for cracks or tripping hazards.
- Pools: Ensure safety measures are in place.
- Notice any signs of pests
- With Second Nature’s On-Demand Pest Control, you can be sure residents can call a professional immediately if they ever have issues. We handle it for you.
Safety & Security Systems
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Ensure residents have kept up to date and they are installed properly.
- Fire extinguishers: Check expiration dates and ensure they're easily accessible.
- Emergency exits and paths: Ensure they're clear and well-marked.
- Floors: Look for damaged tiles, caulk problems, carpet wear, or wood floor issues.
- Windows and doors: Ensure they open and close smoothly, and check seals.
- Garage and parking areas: Check for proper lighting, security, and cleanliness.
- Waste disposal: Ensure trash bins are clean and in good condition.
The Importance of Preventive Maintenance
Did you know that something as simple as getting air filters delivered on time can reduce HVAC costs by hundreds of dollars annually? More on that in a minute, but it’s clear that for property managers, preventive maintenance isn’t just about keeping the property in good shape—it's a strategic approach that yields all kinds of benefits.
By prioritizing prevention, you can:
- Minimize costly repairs: Regular maintenance can prevent small maintenance issues from escalating into expensive emergencies.
- Extend asset longevity: Helping residents proactively care for components like HVAC systems extends their lifespan, saving money in the long run.
- Enhance resident satisfaction: Supporting a resident in maintaining their property means fewer complaints and issues, leading to higher retention rates.
- Ensure safety: Regular checks keep safety hazards at bay, reducing the risk of accidents and liability.
- Improve property value: Consistent upkeep maintains or even increases the property's market value.
- Stay compliant: Keeping up with building codes and safety regulations is non-negotiable, and preventive maintenance ensures compliance.
By incorporating a preventive maintenance strategy, property managers not only safeguard the property's physical health but also its financial viability and desirability in the market. It's a proactive measure that resonates well with residents and investors alike.
Best Tools to Support Preventive Maintenance
Here’s the big question: How can property managers for single-family homes make preventive maintenance easier?
Scattered-site properties don’t lend themselves to regular inspections. So, the best solution, as we mentioned above, is to help your residents do it themselves.
Here are three of our favorite products to get that done.
We’ve built a Resident Benefits Package with proactive property management in mind. Each feature – from renter’s insurance to on-demand pest control to air filter delivery – aims to address ongoing needs and prevent common issues from escalating.
Let’s take air filter delivery as an example. In the largest HVAC data study of its kind, filter delivery service reduced HVAC ticket requests by 38%
Just by including a filter subscription for your residents, you can help them cut energy costs and ensure your HVAC system lasts for the long term.
Learn more about all of the features of our Resident Benefits Package and how it delivers results for residents, property investors, and property management companies.
RentCheck is a property inspection app built to help residents do inspections on their own. The property manager can request and track routine inspections from the resident.
You can set up any cadence you want and customize the self-guided inspection requirements.
RentCheck will fully automate reminders and support residents in completing a video inspection that then gets sent to you as a shareable report.
zInspector is another very popular rental inspection app in the SFR property management space.
Like RentCheck, property managers use zInspector to schedule, customize, and receive inspections conducted by residents themselves. The app also includes a toolkit with an evolving set of property and task management tools.
You can get 360 photos and virtual tours with a compatible 360 camera and printable, customizable inspection reports.
Q: What are the benefits of preventive maintenance?
Preventive maintenance offers a multitude of benefits, including:
- Cost Savings: It reduces the likelihood of incurring expensive emergency repairs and extends the life expectancy of property assets.
- Efficiency: Regular maintenance ensures that all systems and appliances are running at optimal performance, which can lower energy costs.
- Tenant Retention: A well-maintained property leads to higher tenant satisfaction, which can decrease turnover rates.
- Safety: It helps identify potential safety issues before they become hazardous, promoting a safer living environment.
- Value Preservation: Ongoing care maintains and can enhance the property's value over time.
- Compliance: Ensures that the property remains in compliance with the latest building codes and safety regulations.
Overall, preventive maintenance is essential for maintaining a property's integrity, ensuring tenant satisfaction, and optimizing operational budgets.
Q: What is included in basic preventive maintenance?
Basic preventive maintenance for property management typically encompasses:
- Routine Inspections: Regularly checking the structural integrity of the property, including roofs, walls, and foundations.
- HVAC Maintenance: Ensuring heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems are clean and functioning properly.
- Plumbing Checks: Looking for leaks, clogs, or wear in pipes and fixtures.
- Electrical System Audits: Inspecting electrical panels, wires, and safety systems to prevent malfunctions.
- Groundskeeping: Checking outdoor areas, including landscaping, gutters, and drainage systems.
- Appliance Upkeep: Servicing provided appliances to prevent breakdowns and extend their lifespan.
- Safety Inspections: Verifying that all safety equipment, like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors, is in working order.
These tasks are designed to identify and address issues before they develop into more significant problems, helping to ensure the property remains safe, functional, and appealing to tenants.
Q: What’s the ideal schedule for preventive maintenance?
The ideal schedule for preventive maintenance can vary depending on the specific needs of a property, but a general guideline is as follows:
- Weekly/Monthly/Quarterly: Regular checks on a weekly to quarterly basis are more common for multifamily properties and apartment buildings, with quick checks on high-usage areas and equipment, such as communal spaces and gardening upkeep. Quarterly maintenance inspections could include more in-depth inspections of HVAC systems, plumbing and electrical systems, and seasonal preparations.
- Annually/Seasonally: A small number of SFR property managers will conduct seasonal or semi-annual inspections. A few more conduct annual inspections (unrelated to move-in or move-out, which always includes inspections). These are more in-depth inspections to keep an eye on potential issues.