About a year ago we implemented some new maintenance policies resulting in a decrease in maintenance calls by about 30%. We were constantly getting maintenance requests for items such as “kitchen light bulb went out”, “AC thermostat stopped working '', “AC filter needs to be replaced” etc. We started looking for ways to drive down maintenance costs and came up with these solutions:
1. Add a nominal maintenance fee to your lease.
We tend to get maintenance calls from the same frequent offenders. The first month a new tenant moves in, we allow as many work tickets as necessary. When you’re getting settled into a new place, things happen. Sometimes we make mistakes on our end and miss a detail or two prior to move in. After the first month, if a tenant puts in a request because their power is out, for example, we start by asking them to flip their breakers. Sometimes tenants are not willing to perform these tasks so we let them know we can do it, but it’s going to cost $X amount. When you let them know they will be charged $20 for us to come flip their breaker the, maintenance calls go down tremendously.
2. Add info in your lease about any maintenance the tenants are in charge of paying for.
We were receiving pest control requests every month from the same few people over and over. When we would send our pest guy, he was finding a spider here and there, or maybe a roach during the summer months. We decided to add a section in the lease about pest control. We spray quarterly at all of our complexes, including inside the units. There should rarely be a problem with roaches. 99% of the time we receive calls about roaches, it’s because the tenant does not keep their unit clean. Regardless, the first time someone puts in a request for pest control, the owner will pay for it. Any time after that, we let the tenant know we cover one pest control request a year, because that’s really all that should be needed. Any additional pest control requests will be billed to them. Make sure to be clear from the start what maintenance tenants will be in charge of.
3. Create short videos for your tenants to watch.
Sometimes we get tenants who don’t know how to flip a breaker or turn off the water shut off valve. You can create a simple two-minute video to show them how to do these things. It’s a great way to interact with your tenants. You can also find these videos on YouTube and send to them. They’re usually grateful when we send these videos because it’s a skill they may need to use again in the future!
4. Common maintenance problems troubleshooting document.
We created a two-page document with solutions to common maintenance requests. This includes any AC fixes a tenant can take care of, flipping breakers, etc. For example, if we receive a maintenance request saying “AC not blowing cool air” we first ask the tenant when was the last time they changed their AC filter. If it’s been more than 3 months, we ask they try that first. If that doesn’t work, we ask they replace the batteries in their AC thermostat. These measures save our maintenance techs many, many trips and essentially save our owners a great deal of money on maintenance.
Implementing these practices has helped us drive down maintenance costs by about 25% and save owners thousands of dollars.