Are you a property manager and want to show you can increase cash flow? If the answer is yes, then it is time you took a good hard look at the problems that cause a decrease in cash flow. The big items, of course, are collections, accounting, tenant retention, insurance and repair/maintenance. But let us focus our attention on tenant replacement as well as repairs and maintenance for now.

One of the primary reasons tenants leave a property is dissatisfaction. Dissatisfaction may be the result of continual maintenance and repair issues, lack of working amenities, or poor physical upkeep of the property. The results may include cash outlays to re-market the unit, replace carpet, re-paint and make bath or kitchen repairs. The biggest impact of course is lost rent.

Tenants do have a choice where they live, they are your customers and it is critical you hear their needs. The goal of the property manager should be to minimize the reasons tenants leave. Doing so requires establishing a preventive maintenance program with regular inspections of property, HVAC and high maintenance appliances. There is no excuse not to have one in place. It is either pay me now or pay me later. The pay me later option is far more expensive.

The following table is a good checklist for preventive maintenance scheduling.

Maintenance ItemDescriptionWhen To ScheduleReserve Study Impact
HVAC – outsideclean coils, lubricate partsquarterlysome
HVAC – insidechange filtersmonthly-quarterly
Roofs and Guttersinspect and repairsemi-annuallymajor
Parking Lotpotholes, depressions,resurfacingannuallymajor
Recreational Facilitiespool,tennis courts, racquetball,gymmonthlymajor
Lightinginspect and repairmonthlyminor
Smoke Alarmsinspect and testall maintenance request
Stairwells, Balconyinspect and secure quarterlyminor
Sidinginspect for rot, cracking, holes, paint deteriorationsemi-annuallymajor if left unattended
Water Heatersinspect,drain,descaleannuallyminor
Fire Alarms, Extinguisherscharged and in working orderaccording to code or annual
Storm Drainsclear of debrisweekly
Common Areasinspect, clean, maintainquarterlyMajor item
Exterior Doors/Windowsweather stripping, working orderannually
Maintenance requesttenant work ordersas needed and track

The key to maintaining property in order to keep tenants and lowering costs is making preventive maintenance routine. Many maintenance items can be scheduled as part of regular tenant work requests. For example: checking smoke alarms while fixing a leaking faucet. Others only need to be scheduled on a regular basis. Using a good CMMS , property managers can review work order and maintenance history as well as schedule future maintenance items. Other benefits of a CMMS based preventive maintenance program for Property Management include:

  • Lower maintenance costs because less maintenance is reactive, lowering overtime and increasing flexibility of scheduling work
  • The lifecycle (length of time an asset is usable) is increased resulting in less capital replacement dollars
  • Energy efficiency is increased, HVAC units last longer
  • Increase in tenant satisfaction
  • Lowering your liability as a result of accidents occurring on the property
  • Better budget planning
  • Inspections identify and allow for repair of items before they become major replacement expenses

Setting up a preventive maintenance program is best done using Computerized Maintenance Management Software. A huge jump start can be obtained by using the data collected on your Reserve Study as one of its the basic components is a detailed listing of assets. To find out more about Reserve Studies and their value read How HOAs and Property Owners Can Use Their Reserve Study To Save Money

Tell us about the practices you use to keep tenants.