Property managers are in the unenviable position of being responsible for the property, but not having too much direct control over it. While you can always blame the tenants if they trash an apartment, the pressure of preventing what disasters can be prevented falls on you. There are three specific things that property managers can do to cut the risk of rental water damage in their units.
Perform maintenance checks
The first thing you should do is schedule maintenance checks. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or intrusive. Spring and fall are good times to hold basic maintenance inspections. Put it into the rental agreement and then notify tenants in advance. Have a handyman check the sinks, toilets, and showers for leaks. During this time, he can also check for things that aren’t directly related to rental water damage, like check the heating and/or cooling systems. It doesn’t have to be in-depth, just a general check. It’s also an opportunity to check on the general condition of the apartment. Just knowing that there’s going to be someone checking in can be enough to keep some of the messier tenants in check.
Update appliances as appropriate
You don’t want to waste money on new upgrades every year, but keep track of how old appliances really are. Once they’re out of warranty you can expect to have to replace them sooner or later. Leaving outdated, elderly appliances in units, is begging for rental water damage to strike. A loose cable, thinned pipe, or cracked seal is a common cause of water damage. If you keep the appliances in your units well-maintained, you’ll be able to get another few good years out of them. Eventually, however, you’re going to have to shell out for an upgrade. As much as it may hurt to part with that money, it’s better than dealing with water damage in several units before you make the switch.
Properly insulate pipes
If it dips into freezing temperatures even occasionally, you need to make sure that your units have insulated pipes. Outside pipes are especially prone to freezing. Crawl space pipes and attic pipes are often prone to freezing as well. When a pipe is not heated by the heating system of the unit, it can freeze. If it freezes, there’s a high chance that it will burst. Burst pipes can do a huge amount of damage to a unit. Even a small split in a pipe can leak out a great deal of water over time. If it’s days, weeks, or months before the source of the leak is discovered, the water damage could be serious. To avoid these complications, insulate all interior and exposed exterior pipes. Spray on insulation is a good solution for external exposed pipes.
Insulating pipes, updating appliances, and doing regular preventative maintenance checks reduces rental water damage risk. As a property manager these steps give you more control over the unexpected. You can’t always prevent every instance of water damage, but these steps can help you reduce it.