You have many responsibilities as a landlord. It’s important to protect your rental property from costly damages. You must fix things when they break. Here are 9 common apartment repairs every landlord needs.
- List of the 9 common apartment repairs every landlord needs;
- Causes for each problem;
- Tips to help you know what to do for each repair; and
- Basic tools suggestions for specific DIY repairs.
9 Common Apartment Repairs Every Landlord Needs
1. Water Leaks
The most common problem is water leaks. Water leaks occur in many ways like:
- Poorly fitted pipes;
- Broken pipes;
- Broken appliances;
- Failed weather stripping;
- Roof damage; or
- A forgetful tenant who left the faucet running.
Tip: Reduce water leaks by looking for signs of water damage and replacing old weather stripping around windows and doors. Also, install water sensors to detect leaks early to help you reduce major damage.
What to do with water leaks:
- Identify the cause;
- Shut off the water source (if you can); and
- Call a professional like a plumber for leaking pipes or a roofer to patch a leaking roof.
Let’s look at some different types of water leaks and how to fix them.
Water Leaks Under Sinks
Two causes for water leaks occur under a bathroom or kitchen sink. The drain (that sends the water from the sink to the sewer) and the supply line (the pipe bringing cold and hot water to the sink). Often these types of leaks occur because of a poorly fitting or broken drainpipe.
Tip: Usually an easy problem to fix. Or, you can hire a plumber to save you time from finding and replacing the right parts.
Water Leak Under the Windows or in the Ceiling
Water leaks into drywall or wooden surfaces if left unchecked can cause major damage. Even small amounts of moisture cause mold to grow which becomes expensive to fix over time.
When your tenants report water problems you need to inspect the source and damage right away. That’s because the tenant may not notice a problem until the damage appears.
Tip: Hire an experienced contractor to inspect and fix the problem right away. Don’t hire cheap. It’s worth the extra cost to hire the best. However, if you know that water supply lines are in the ceiling where the leak occurs, it’s better to call a plumber.
Dripping Water from Faucets
A slow drip from a sink or bathroom may cost you hundreds of dollars in water bills over time if not fixed right away.
Tip: Most of the time, you can fix this problem cheaply with the correct size rubber washer and under an hour of your time with the right sized wrench. Yet, the entire faucet may need replacing. The plastic ones wear out faster than the metal ones.
2. Toilet Problems
Toilets cause many problems over time.
Clogged toilets are usually the tenant’s responsibility, but check your lease agreement to make sure. Even so, if the bathroom sink or bathtub are also clogged it may mean a clogged drainpipe or collapsed due to a broken pipe or tree root growing through it. You will need to hire a plumber to replace the drain pipe.
Toilet leaks or runs caused by toilets made from long-lasting porcelain, but with cheap plastic tank parts that easily break. A problem exists when the toilet continues running (you can hear it) or refills with water every so often on its own. The culprit usually is the flapper.
Tip: You can buy toilet tank parts at a hardware store and replace them yourself.
Basic Plumbing Tools: If you want to fix faucets, toilets, and water pipes yourself (DIY) you will need these tools:
- Slip-lock pliers;
- Bell-shaped toilet plunger; and
- Sink auger and toilet auger.
3. Water Heater
You will hear about a broken water heater fast as most tenants don’t like cold showers. It might only require replacing a heating element or relighting the pilot light. Or, it might need replacing.
Tip: Call a professional to inspect the water heater before declaring it dead. Also, have a professional do annual maintenance to drain the water to eliminate sediment.
4. Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals often break down due to misuse like dropping metal objects into them. Likewise, dropping in bones, fruit pits, grease, and fibrous vegetables (potato peels and celery) clog up disposals.
Tip: Teach your tenants the right way to use them. Yet, over time the blades get rusted or the motor burns out. It’s better to hire a professional to inspect the disposal and make the correct repairs or replacements.
5. HVAC Systems
Cooling and heating systems contain complex machinery. California laws require landlords to supply heating in the main rooms and maintain the heating systems. If the heating system fails to work you as the landlord must repair it. Yet, if the tenant or a guest damages the heating system, the tenant pays for the repairs or replacement.
Tip: At least once a year hire a professional to inspect, clean, and tune the system.
6. Electrical Work
As a landlord, it’s important to take electrical safety seriously. Across America, home electrical fires cause over 500 deaths and $1.2 billion in damage every year. Follow the standards set by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).
Tip: Increase your protection against rental fires by using tamper-resistant (TR) receptacles and Ground-Fault Current Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. Also, hire an electrician to install Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) to reduce fire risks from home wiring problems.
Basic Electrical Tools: If you want to replace electrical switches and outlets you need these tools:
- Voltage tester;
- Wire splicing tool;
- Multi-driver; and
- Electrical tape.
Often, after tenants move out you may find drywall damage due to accidents or heavy wall hangings. Most of the time, you can patch drywall damage quickly. Yet, large holes require replacing the drywall.
Tip: Replacing drywall takes time and care to fit properly with special tape to cover gaps and paint the walls. If it’s too much to handle, hire a professional drywall installer.
Basic Tools for Drywall Patching and Replacement: If you want to patch or replace drywall you need these tools:
- Tape measure;
- Utility knife;
- Drywall saw; and
- Drywall blades.
Termites, roaches, ants, mice, rats, and other pests can cause extensive damage to your rental.
Tip: If you or your tenant notices pest droppings or damage you must fix the problem immediately. Infestation over time increases the damage to your rental. Hire a pest control company to inspect after your tenant moves out.
Basic Tools for Pest Control: You can use these tools to help you control pests:
- Traps; and
- Caulk to seal access points.
9. Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors save lives and your property as an early warning of fires. Install the best smoke detectors in hallways, bedrooms, and every level of your rental as smoke travels slowly. Detecting a fire early and warning your tenants avoids or limits injuries and property damage.
Tip: The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends “testing batteries monthly and replacing smoke detectors every 10 years”.
Our WeLease blog helps landlords with useful tips and suggestions like:
- “How To Achieve Low-Stress Landlording”;
- “How to Avoid Your First Real Estate Investment Mistakes”; and
- “Rental Property Red Flags You Should Never Ignore”.
9 Common Apartment Repairs Every Landlord Needs – Conclusion
The 9 common apartment repairs every landlord needs include:
- Water Leaks;
- Toilet Problems;
- Water Heater;
- Garbage Disposal;
- HVAC Systems;
- Electrical Work;
- Pests; and
- Smoke Detectors.
If You Can’t Handle The Repairs Yourself, Get Help
For some repairs, we listed the required tools. Yet, DIY is not for everyone. Landlords with a day job, inexperienced with repairs, or wanting time to enjoy life seek professional help. But, where do you go to find experienced, reliable, and reasonably priced repairpersons?
Let WeLease Handle All Your Repairs in San Diego County
WeLease Property Management handles all types and sizes of rentals from single-family homes to large apartment complexes in San Diego County.
Contact us so we can hire all the professionals to repair and replace everything in your apartments or rental houses.
Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger
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