Hi, Todd Ortscheid here with GTL Real Estate. I wanted to talk a little bit about the importance of speedy maintenance. This is the second time in the last few weeks we’ve talked about maintenance and repairs. The reason for that is just because it’s such an important issue, it’s a question that comes up so often, and it’s really important from the perspective of both the tenant and the landlord.
There’s a lot of reasons why maintenance and repairs and how they’re handled are one of the key issues for everybody involved in being a either a landlord, or tenant, why those issues are important. I wanted to cover another subject on that again, which is the speediness of repairs. Occasionally we get a question from one of our clients asking things like, “can you get three or four bids for every repair?” or “Can you call me for approval before ever repair?”
We get those questions occasionally, but not too often, as most of our clients now are generally pretty hands-off. They like that we’re a turnkey solution that can take care of all aspects of managing their property without them having to be directly involved. We do occasionally have an owner who wants to be a little bit more hands-on, so I wanted to address why we have the process we do that’s so fast in dealing with repairs, and why that’s to your benefit as a landlord.
There are many polls that have been done on tenants to try to determine what causes tenant turnover, meaning why do tenants leave one rental property and go to another. It’s obvious why a tenant would leave a rental and go to a house that they’ve purchased. They’d love to be a homeowner, for most people that’s part of the American dream, so they want to own house. That’s a pretty obvious reason why someone would leave a rental property. In a lot of cases, tenants are leaving one rental house and going to another, and even going from one similar rental house to another, not even upgrading to a bigger place.
Why does that happen so often? The polling answer on that is pretty clear, it’s almost always about maintenance. The number one reason the tenants leave one rental to go to another, is that either repairs aren’t getting done, or they aren’t getting done very fast. The other thing to keep in mind about that is turnover, losing a tenant and having to find a new one, is the number one driver of expenses for a landlord.
There’s two components of that. One is the cost of finding a new tenant, which if you have a property management company, that’s the fees that you pay that management company to find that tenant, but even if you’re doing it yourself, you have your own advertising costs, and your own time, which obviously has a value that you have to spend showing the property, taking phone calls, and everything that goes along with it.
There’s that part, but then there’s also the aspect of repairs between tenants. If you have a tenant in your property who’s there for 10 years let’s say, it’s very likely that tenant is not going to ask for paint, or carpet, or anything really while they’re in that property. As long as the property was in pretty decent shape when they moved in, they’re going to stay in that property for all those years, and not really bother you about those cosmetic issues.
When you have a tenant who moves out, new tenants expect properties to be in pretty decent condition when they move in. They expect the paint to be in good condition, the flooring, whether it’s carpet, or vinyl panel, whatever it may be, to also be in good condition. That’s where those expenses come in, and then you have to go in and touch up at the very least the paint. Sometimes you have to replace that carpet, you have to maybe do some landscaping work. These expense add up.
You could have avoided all those expenses if you kept the same tenant. That turnover is what drives up costs, and that can be thousands of dollars. From a landlord’s perspective, it’s very important to keep that turnover low, and as we said from the polling, the way to do that is to make sure the repairs get done, and make sure they get done very quickly. That’s why our process is that as soon as we get a request, we get that taken care of.
Our maintenance line is 24/7. That means if someone calls on Christmas day at 11 PM, we’ve got that call center that’s taking that phone call and dispatching a vendor to take care of that if it’s an emergency. If it’s not an emergency, then they’ll get someone out the next day as quickly as possible. That’s very important obviously for the tenant for obvious reasons, but for less obvious reasons that’s very important for you as the landlord, because that’s making sure that tenant stays happy, so that they stay in your property.
That’s a very important thing to consider. Keeping your costs down by reducing turnover is going to be the number one driver of your profitability as a landlord. That’s why we do that, but also it’s not just a profitability perspective, it’s also just the law. In the states where we do business, landlords are required to do repairs. It’s just the way it is, the law doesn’t make it a gray area.
If you look at the Georgia landlord tenant handbook for example, it specifically says that even if you put a provision in your lease that says the tenant is responsible for repairs, it says that provision is void. It doesn’t make any difference, as far as the courts and lawmakers are concerned, that you have a contract provision that says the tenant is responsible. It is always the landlord’s responsibility to do the repairs no matter what. That’s why it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to put delays in the process to call for approvals, get multiple bids, etc. All of that stuff just creates unnecessary delays that’s going to drive up your costs.
The vendors we have, we have long-term relationships with them, they’ve given us deep discounts. We bid out our work in a more general sense to multiple contractors all the time to make sure our vendors are the lowest priced and the best quality. Introducing a bid process into each repair is just creating an unnecessary delay when we already know who the cheapest vendor’s going to be. It’s just going to make the tenant angry while they wait for that work to get done.
Our process is designed to make the tenant happy, and to make the landlord have a more profitable property over the long run. We recommend this even for landlords who are doing the work themselves, and not having a property management company. If they’re managing their own property, make sure you’re quick on repairs. That’s going to be the number one thing that keeps you profitable, and make sure that you have the best return on your investment. If you have any questions, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at our office, thanks.