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Owner Maintained vs. Professional Maintenance

Every now and then, we meet a home owner who wants to do his or her own maintenance on the unit or has a neighbor who is handy and wants him to do the work.

Oftentimes, even if the landlord can handle the rental property repair job themselves, does not mean they should. How much is their time worth? Even if they’ve got the time and energy to take care of the repair, often it makes financial sense to let a dedicated professional handle the job. Even the most capable DIY landlords will find themselves in over their head if they try to handle every job.

Nevada law requires that, if a home is being prepared for sale or lease and the repairs exceed $1000, then a contractor licensed with the Nevada State Contractor’s Board must be used for the repairs.  Minor repairs or services such as changing HVAC filters, or cleaning the pool filters do not require a contractor.

However, our experience has shown that the tenant really doesn’t want the owner to be at the property on a regular basis.  The tenant is paying to lease the property and in doing so enjoys the bundle of rights that come with the property, the most important being the “quiet enjoyment” of the property.

Owner repairmen tend to decide when the maintenance is performed over the tenant’s objection and then the phone calls to management start.  Repairmen hired by the management company are much more likely to do the work when it is convenient to the tenant and thereby avoid conflict.

Many tenants who lease an “owner maintained” unit do not renew the lease.  The savings expected from the “do-it-yourself” maintainer is lost because of the tenant turnaround costs.  One of the leading causes cited by tenants leaving a rental property when the lease is up is because of bad experiences from poor maintenance. The money they might save doing it themselves is often just a delayed (and greater) loss. The same can typically be said about the cost of hiring a full-time property manager. Sometimes it’s just a convenience, but many times the cost of hiring a professional property manager makes the most long-term financial sense as well.