Minimizing Misunderstandings and Complaints from Tenants
A friend who owns a number of rental properties recently asked me to help provide him a checklist of issues to inspect that would keep the properties well-maintained. Whether you are preparing your rental property for a new tenant to move in or seeking to maintain the home, there are certain steps every landlord should take. If you get into the habit of reviewing this checklist, misunderstandings and complaints tenants will be minimized.
1. Maintain Health and Safety Issues
Reducing Health and Safety Issues should be a primary concern for landlords. As owners, landlords, agents, and managers of rental property, you play an important role in protecting the health of your tenants and their children. Safety issues include verifying that there are two forms of exit from the unit and that all carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are in working order. Health issues include checking for signs of mold and, for buildings constructed before 1978, that there are no lead-based paint hazards.
Smoke Detectors are discussed in every Magnolia Home Inspection report, here are the recommended locations:
The National Fire Protection Agency recommends installing smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations. For more information visit: Installation and Location of Smoke Alarms
Carbon monoxide is heavier than air and the location of the detector below breathing level is extremely important. In effect, if the house were flooded with carbon monoxide, every human or animal below the carbon monoxide detector could essentially die before the monoxide.
- Mount the detectors on the walls at least a couple of feet below the height of the ceiling
- An alarm should be installed on every level of the home and in sleeping areas.
- Place the alarm at least 15 feet away from fuel-burning appliances.
- Make sure nothing is covering or obstructing the unit.
- Do not place the unit in dead air spaces or next to a window or door.
For more information visit: https://www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm
Landlords must give prospective tenants of buildings built before 1978:
- An EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards, Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (PDF).
- Any known information concerning lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards pertaining to the building.
- For multi-unit buildings this requirement includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units when such information was obtained as a result of a building-wide evaluation.
- A lead disclosure attachment to the lease, or language inserted in the lease, that includes a “Lead Warning Statement” and confirms that you have complied with all notification requirements.
- Sample Lessor’s Disclosure of Information in English (PDF)and in Spanish (PDF) .
2. Practical Repairs Insure the Value of the Home
Water is the single most destructive element to a home. Simple monitoring, as little as once a year, can insure that the structure and value of the home are maintained. Here are two suggestions that might save you tens of thousands of dollars in the long-run:
The lack of downspout extensions on a guttering system is the number one cause of foundation failure in my experience as a home inspector. Roofs are a very large square footage of area that catch an enormous amount of water that is then caught in gutters and funneled to very specific locations, primarily the corner of the foundation of your home. Magnolia home inspection note: “Excessive moisture levels in soil near the foundation can compromise the ability of the soil to support the weight of the structure above resulting in a high potential for structural damage in the future.”
Identify all wood trim on the exterior of the home, around windows, doors, soffit, and corners of the home. It is important to note all exposed wood from peeling or deteriorating paint. A common Magnolia home inspection note: “Accelerated deterioration of the wood will occur if not properly coated.” L
Personally, if I owned a property with excessive wood trim, I would hire a metal contractor and wrap as much as possible. Metal wrap on houses is extremely common in Middle Tennessee with high humidity climate and reduces paint maintenance to virtually zero.
3. Know the Plumbing
Most often rental properties are older homes with plumbing that may be antiquated. Hopefully you already had your home inspected and know the material of the plumbing pipes inside the home and the material of the main supply line bringing water from the city plumbing into the home. It is important to have a game plan before flooding, a clogged pipe or other emergencies arise.
Galvanized Steel Pipe
This plumbing pipe on supply lines will need to be replaced at some time in the future. Galvanized steel corrodes with exposure to water reducing the inside diameter of the pipe and the total volume available. Over time less and less water can be delivered. A good indication of when to replace galvanized plumbing can be concluded through this test: In the bathroom, turn the shower and faucet ON – does a person have enough water to wash soap out of their hair when the toilet is flushed at the same time these fixtures are both on? If not, call a plumber for a quote of replacement of the galvanized plumbing.
It is important to keep all metal piping that is exposed in the crawlspace insulated. Copper is a great material for water supply piping but the biggest weakness is the softness of the metal. Copper piping will split open if the water inside freezes, resulting in flooding when that ice melts. Taking the preventative measure of insulating these pipes will prevent very costly repairs in the future.