One of the biggest fears that stops people from getting into real estate are the home repair and maintenance expenses that are often highlighted on HGTV and tenant horror stories.
So how do you make the fear go away?
- Know What to Expect
- Have Cash Reserves
In the beginning of your real estate investing journey, there will be mistakes made, and lessons learned. There is no way through that. But the more research you do, and the more you are knowledgeable about, the less mistakes you will make, and the road to success will become easier.
Here are the 10 most common home repair and maintenance expenses to prepare for when either buying a home, or maintenance after a tenant leaves:
1. Kitchen Appliances
Kitchen appliance tend to break down fairly often due to all of the moving parts inside. While some issues can be fixed easily, many issues can require a professional.
Unless you need a new appliance, the typical cost is between $50-$100 per hour. That sounds like a lot, but most repairs can be made in an hour or two, so make sure you account for things like the refrigerator, dishwasher, and the stove.
2. Water Leak In Ceiling or Under Windows
Another one of the most common repair and maintenance expenses is dealing with water leaks.
While water leaks may not be detrimental at the time, they can completely destroy a property. If left unchecked, water can destroy flooring, drywall, wood, and virtually any surface in the house.
Water is not only damaging overtime, but the moisture can cause mold to grow, which can be expensive to get out.
Make sure when your tenant reports a water problem, make it your number 1 concern! And when your tenant leaves, inspect the property and make sure there is no water anywhere, because water leaks are on of the most common, and most detrimental, problems that rental properties have.
3. Water Leak Under Sink
Seeing a water leak under the windows or in the ceiling is very common, but a water leak under the sink is very common as well. A water leak under the sink can be caused from one of two reasons:
- The Supply Line
- The Drain
90% if leaks under the sink are caused by the supply line not fitting together correctly. You can either hire someone to fix it, or watch a couple Youtube videos and figure out fairly quickly.
4. Water Drip from Faucets
Most tenants won’t tell you about a faucet drip. This problem is simply when you turn the faucet off, but water still slowly drips out, which can be very hard to tell.
If a tenant reports it, get it fixed. If they don’t, then watch for an increase in the water bill. A lot of the time, it can be from a slow drip that went unchecked, and can end up costing you hundreds of dollars a year.
How to Repair a Leaky Faucet?
If want to know how to repair a leaky faucet, you can either hire a professional, or try it out yourself:
- Replace the rubber washer. A lot of the time, the rubber washer gets worn out and water will come through, causing a slow drip. This will typically cost you about $0.50 and an hour of your time.
- If the rubber washer doesn’t fix the problem, you may need a whole new faucet. Spend the money for a good one. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but don’t buy the $20 plastic faucet, or you will have the same problem again. Don’t skimp on a faucet, because it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
5. Hot Water Heater
If your tenant loses their hot water, chances are it is because of the hot water heater.
Before you worry about getting a new hot water heater, the problem may be stemming from the heating element inside the heater, which you can replace yourself for $20, or hire a plumber to do it for you.
But if you do end up needing a new hot water heater, it can run you upwards of $600 for a plumber to replace it. Reasons like these are why it is important to keep a cash reserve as a landlord.
If the tenants are dirty, rodents will probably find their way into your house. But it is not always the tenants fault!
Crumbs and such attract rodents, and they need to be taken care of immediately after you see signs of rodents, or the tenant reports them. Infestations can cause your property to fall apart, literally.
Termites can eat away the wood, bugs can populate and spawn everywhere in the house, and once it’s too late, it is a very expensive fix.
How do you tackle this issue?
- Educate the tenants on keeping rodents away
- Hire a pest specialist
- Seal up any holes you see that may be from rodents
- Ensure the property is clean
7. Garbage Disposals
Technological wonders are great, until they stop working.
If there is a garbage disposal in your rental property, try to remove it before you put a tenant in there. It will save you a lot of headaches over the long run, and really isn’t worth it.
They may be good for grinding up food, but they are a huge thorn in the backside for landlords. Tenants often put things in there that don’t belong, and it ends up needing fixed. Again. And again. And again.
However: If you have a property with a garbage disposal and you decide to keep it, it is typically one of two issues:
- The garbage disposal could be stuck, and simply need a wrench to unstick it.
- The motor may be burned out, meaning you will need a new disposal. This will run you a couple hundred bucks with the use of a handyman.
8. Toilet Leaks
Toilets themselves are typically made to last, but the parts inside are normally just cheap plastic.
Luckily, toilet leaks are normally easy to fix. Most toilet problems require a new flapper, and problems like these can fixed for about $20 and an hour of labor by either you, a handyman, or a plumber.
9. Clogged Toilet
Be prepared for your tenant to call at some point about a clogged toilet.
Luckily for you, you can tell the tenant that it is not your responsibility! Problems caused by the tenant are the tenant’s responsibility, and it is up to them to fix it. You can either tell them to hire a plumber, or hire one yourself and bill the tenant!
However, if the drains are clogged in the bathtub and sink as well, then it could be a problem with your drain pipe, such as a tree root growing through it, or a collapsed pipe. This can turn into a hefty plumbers bill, so be prepared!
10. Furnace Repairs
A furnace repair is one of the most important repairs you can do. A cold tenant in the winter is not a happy tenant!
If the furnace goes out, it could be something as simple as the pilot light going out, or it could be as complicated as a gas leak.
When the tenant calls and lets you know the furnace went out, get a specialist out there to determine what is wrong, because there could be a lot of things going on with your furnace.
To prevent furnace problems, make sure the tenant knows the replace the filter often.
10 Most Common Home Repair and Maintenance Expenses to Prepare For
The 10 most common home repair and maintenance expense information was provided by Brandon Turner in his book, The Book on Rental Property Investing.
The Book on Rental Property Investing is an Amazon bestseller, and is widely regarded as the best overall guide to investing in real estate. It covers a broad range of topics, from finding a deal, to analyzing it, to obtaining different kinds of financing, to taxes, and more.
The Book on Rental Property Investing is rated the #1 Book on Real Estate in a multitude of sources, including:
- The Balance
- Real Wealth Network
- The Motley Fool
- Investor Junkie
Brandon Turner is the VP of Growth for BiggerPockets, the largest real estate community in the country, and is the author of many bestselling books on real estate investing. Turner has amassed around 300 rental units since he began in 2007, and has been making an effort to help others achieve what he has through podcasts, Youtube, books, and BiggerPockets.