Rental Property Maintenance: DIY or Outsource?

Owning rental property can be a lucrative investment, providing a source of passive income and potential long-term financial growth. However, being a landlord comes with numerous responsibilities. One of these responsibilities that can take up considerable time, energy, and money is property maintenance. As with most other facets of property investment, property maintenance becomes a larger challenge as your portfolio grows. One key decision you’ll face as a rental property owner is whether to handle maintenance tasks yourself or outsource the work to professionals. We will explore the pros and cons of self-handling rental property maintenance to help you determine if it’s the right choice for you.

Man performing self-managed property maintenance, replacing a window

Pros of Self-Handling Rental Property Maintenance

  1. Cost Savings: One of the primary advantages of self-managing property maintenance is cost savings. You won’t incur fees for hiring a property management company, allowing you to keep a larger portion of the rental income. Take note that without the skills, experience, and operations in place, budgeting for property maintenance can be unwieldy.
  2. Control: When you handle maintenance yourself, you have direct control over the quality of work and can ensure that repairs are completed to your satisfaction. You can also choose which contractors or service providers to work with.
  3. Local Knowledge: You may have a better understanding of the local area and market dynamics than an outside property management company (unless they are also local). This knowledge can be beneficial when selecting contractors and addressing maintenance issues promptly.
  4. Immediate Response: With self-management, you can respond to maintenance requests and emergencies more quickly if you have proper communication channels in place with your tenants. This can lead to higher tenant satisfaction and better tenant relations.
  5. Learning Opportunity: Managing maintenance on your own can be a valuable learning experience. You’ll gain insights into property maintenance, repair costs, and the overall condition of your property.

Cons of Self-Handling Rental Property Maintenance

  1. Time-Consuming: Managing maintenance can be extremely time-consuming, especially if you have multiple rental properties or a full-time job. It can become a significant workload, particularly if issues arise frequently.
  2. Limited Availability: If you have a day job or other commitments, you may not always be available to address maintenance requests promptly. Delayed responses can lead to tenant dissatisfaction.
  3. Lack of Expertise: You may not have the expertise to handle all types of maintenance issues. Complex repairs or those requiring specialized skills may be beyond your capabilities, leading to subpar results. A company managing these tasks will have a specialist for each type of repair.
  4. Stress and Burnout: The stress of managing maintenance, especially during emergencies, can lead to burnout. It can negatively affect your well-being and enjoyment of being a rental property owner.
  5. Legal Compliance: Maintaining compliance with local and state laws and regulations regarding rental property maintenance can be challenging. Non-compliance can lead to legal issues and financial penalties.
  6. Limited Scalability: As your rental property portfolio grows, self-managing maintenance becomes increasingly challenging. It may not be a sustainable approach as you acquire more properties. Consider scalability as you grow so that your real estate portfolio does not become cumbersome to the point of losing tenants and unrealized revenue.

Tips for Successful Self-Handling of Rental Property Maintenance

If you decide that self-handling rental property maintenance aligns with your goals and circumstances, here are some tips to ensure success:

  1. Create a Maintenance Plan: Develop a maintenance plan that includes regular inspections, preventive maintenance tasks, and a system for addressing repair requests promptly.
  2. Build a Network: Establish relationships with reliable contractors, plumbers, electricians, and other service providers. Having a trusted network of professionals can make managing maintenance more manageable.
  3. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all maintenance and repair activities, including costs, dates, and communication with tenants. Proper documentation is crucial for legal and financial purposes.
  4. Stay Informed: Stay up to date with local laws and regulations regarding rental property maintenance. Compliance is essential to avoid legal issues.
  5. Set Clear Expectations: Communicate clearly with tenants about their responsibilities and the process for reporting maintenance issues. Transparency can prevent misunderstandings.

Next Steps: Go DIY or Hire a Property Maintenance Company?

Deciding whether to self-handle rental property maintenance is a significant choice for any landlord or real estate investor. It offers cost savings, control, and valuable learning opportunities but can be time-consuming and stressful. Consider your availability, expertise, and long-term goals when making this decision.

If you have the time, skills, and dedication to effectively manage maintenance, self-handling may be a viable option, especially for a smaller property portfolio. However, as your rental property business grows, it’s essential to evaluate whether self-management remains sustainable or if hiring professional property management services would be more efficient and beneficial for your investments. At the very least, creating the operational infrastructure of a professional property management company can help to keep on top of your responsibilities as a property manager; allowing tenants to pay rent, request maintenance, or offer feedback through an app are examples of this.

Ultimately, the right choice depends on your unique circumstances and priorities as a rental property owner. Whether you choose to self-handle maintenance or delegate this responsibility, the key is to ensure that your properties are well-maintained, your tenants are satisfied, and your investments continue to yield positive returns. Have further questions? Reach out to our team at North Pacific Property Management. Our Property Maintenance team is second to none, but if we aren’t the right fit for you we will be able to offer insight to help you on your path.