Tip of the Month - December 2008


Source: Profitably Managing your Rental Properties
             R. Dodge Woodson-John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

The interior of your rental units is where most touring maintenance will be required.  This is where your Tenants live and where most problems occur.  Plumbing or electrical system problems are only the beginning; appliances, walls, ceilings, floors, doors, and other components of the rental unit all need your attention.


Plumbing problems are probably the most frequent cause of panicked calls from a Tenant to a Landlord.  If you plan to manage your own property, be prepared for problems ranging from dripping faucets to flooding toilets.  Since some of the calls will be emergencies, either be prepared to play plumber yourself or have a regular plumber you can depend on.

Plumbers can be an independent lot.  They are expensive and usually busy, so plan ahead.  Establish a relationship with a dependable plumber before you need one.  If you wait until you need a plumber to find one, you may not be able to.  Plumbing emergencies know no boundaries.  They may occur in the middle of the night or on a weekend.  If you need a plumber after normal business hours, you cane expect a hefty bill.

If you have numerous rental units, you may not have as much trouble finding and keeping a plumber.  When you give them steady business, plumbers respond to your calls.  One way to hedge your odds is to learn basic plumbing principles.  If you are not handy, find and keep a good plumber within easy reach.

Most Landlords have lease provisions that hold the Tenant responsible for plumbing problems he/she creates; just as he/she is responsible for repairs and damages if he/her child breaks a window.  By including the proper language in your lease, you can reduce your out-of-pocket expenses on plumbing calls.

The routine maintenance of a unit’s plumbing, however, is your responsibility.  If the toilet’s flush valve is bad, causing the toilet to run constantly, repair or replace it.  If you are paying the water bill, you will see a noticeable increase in it from the wasted water.  The same is true for dripping faucets.  It is a good idea to inspect a unit’s plumbing at least twice a year.  Tenants may not care if their bathtub faucet is dripping, but your water bill will force you to pay the price for the drip.  Include a clause in your lease to allow you to inspect the interior plumbing on a regular basis.


Because water is a natural resource and we are now becoming more aware of wasted resources, we remove all exterior faucets. Experience has shown us that leaking and/or unattended exterior faucets are severe risks in non-owner occupied properties.

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This web page was updated on 12/02/2008.