Good tenants want properties reflecting well on their business. Property maintenance is a serious part of real estate management and ownership. Commercial and residential properties must keep their grounds, landscaping, and overall building aesthetics looking great. Allowing your property to become run down not only affects its value and its appeal to potential tenants but can subject you to legal problems in certain scenarios.
If you own commercial or residential rental properties, consider hiring a property manager to ensure your buildings look their best. If you don’t live near your rental properties and/or own multiple units, the hiring of a property manager becomes more critical. Remember that when it comes to renters, your property has only one chance to make a first impression.
An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and this adage holds true for real estate. Nip issues in the bud before they become major, expensive problems. That means regularly servicing the heating and air conditioning systems, periodic plumbing inspections, and careful examination of the overall property on a consistent basis. The use of quality property maintenance software tools makes the task easier and keeps managers and owners constantly updated on what is needed and when inspections or repairs are made. Preventive maintenance won’t eliminate every emergency, but it does lower the odds.
A property management company may work with particular contractors, but if you manage your own property, get referrals for plumbers, electricians, and other building maintenance professionals ahead of time. If you hire a property management company but prefer that certain professionals work on your buildings, discuss the matter with the company.
If your property includes extensive landscaping, you need to hire a service that does more than mow the lawn. Look for a lawn care company providing actual lawn and landscaping care. If there are dead or dying trees on the property, hire a professional tree service to remove them. If a dead tree falls on a building or motor vehicle and/or injures someone, you may incur liability.
Commercial property owners must make sure their buildings are more than just aesthetically attractive. Property owners and managers must make sure there are no safety issues on their grounds. Property managers must check lighting throughout the building, quickly replacing any burned-out bulbs. Repair torn carpeting, missing floor tiles and other tripping hazards immediately. Safety is not only important for its own sake but protects you in the event that someone is injured on your property.
One of a Colorado property owner’s biggest safety considerations involves ice and snow. When winter arrives, keeping your property’s sidewalks free of ice and snow is your responsibility. In Denver, for example, business owners have just four hours after snow stops falling to remove ice and snow from public sidewalks. Residents have up to 24 hours for such removal.
If you are unable to perform such removal yourself, arrange to have the work done by another party. Ideally, you have an ongoing arrangement with a snow removal service so you aren’t trying to find someone to do the work at the last minute. If ice and snow is not removed within the designated time frame, you may have more than local fines to worry about. Should someone trip and fall on a sidewalk that should have been cleared, you may face a personal injury lawsuit.
Some repairs, such as a burst pipe, may come out of nowhere. Others, however, are foreseeable and require budgeting. These include:
Major renovations or repairs are costly, but putting them off for too long may result in losing good tenants, and damage the structural integrity of the building. For example, if a roof is leaking, repairs may temporarily stop water from coming inside. However, if the roof is in bad condition, a quick fix is just putting off the inevitable, and you don’t want to deal with mold or an actual cave-in.
Real estate management and maintenance can be a headache because there are many laws to comply with, liability to be concerned with, unexpected expenses, and much more. You or your management company should use best practices to prevent problems before they arise. Read more about real estate property management in Colorado.
For more information about effectively maintaining your commercial property, check out this infographic on Grounds Maintenance at the end of this post.
Contact an Attorney
Whether you are buying or selling residential or commercial real estate, it is always a good idea to obtain legal advice from an attorney experienced in Colorado real estate law. If you experience liability issues with any tenant resulting from a property maintenance situation, don't hesitate to contact me.
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