Rental Repairs: Fixing Up My Rental Property

Rental Property Repairs - New Door Kick Plate
The new kick plate I made and installed on our rental property saved us $200.

Call me crazy, but one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done over the past few weeks is spending some time preparing our rental property for its first tenant.

I can see how people become addicted to dealing with real estate. There’s just something about “taking care” of your rental property.

You really get a sense of improving on your property and instantly increasing its value.

Dealing with a stock can’t provide this same satisfaction (unless you work for the company, of course).

Rental Property Basic Repairs

This particular rental property was our old home. We’ve been the only ‘tenant’ so far that’s live here. So there weren’t many repairs to make to the home to get it ready to rent. Here are some of the basic repairs (plus costs) I made:

  • Replaced the entire door knob on the master bedroom balcony door. The latch assembly catch had fallen off and was missing. ($18)
  • Covered the old cat door (to the garage) with two kick plates. ($51.50*)
  • Spackled, sanded, texturized, and painted all the holes in the sheet rock. ($21)
  • Touched up the walls with new paint.
  • Repainted the dining room back to the standard color. ($91**)
  • Replaced one of the living room electrical boxes and face plates. ($10)
  • Cleaned the grime from the garage floor. ($19)
  • Caulked the bathroom tile.

Total repair costs – $210.50

* I could not find a pre-fabricated kick plate big enough to cover the old cat door hole, so I made one myself (one for each side of the door, actually). To make this, I purchased some sheet metal for $19, metal snips for $30, and $2.50 worth of screws. It didn’t take long to measure, cut, and drill holes for the kick plates. Cost of a new door would have been $250 installed from Lowes.

** I went ahead and purchased 5 gallons of paint, which can ideally be used for future touch-ups.

Rental Property Clean Up

Mrs. PT does a wonderful job of keeping our home clean. She takes pride in taking care of our space. And so when I told her we had some prospective tenants on our rental property, she offered to give it a thorough cleaning and save us the cost of having someone come clean the place.

Time Invested in Rental Property Repairs

Just because I had fun making these repairs, it doesn’t mean I don’t consider it an expense. It’s hard putting a price tag on the time I spent on these tasks, but it wasn’t free time. I could have used that time to write more articles, plan my upcoming conference, or just spent it with my family. That’s worth something for sure.

Overall I’d say I spent 16 hours making repairs to the rental property. This includes the time spent puttering around Home Depot, Lowes, and WalMart. I’m almost ready to start collecting rent.

Related: The Modern Day Handyman: Get Your Smart Home Devices Installed (Puls Review)

Tips for DIY Rental Repairs

My tips for anyone looking to do their own repair and maintenance of any type of real state investment are:

  1. Look for ways to DIY for less. In the case of our door repair, I could have easily given up and purchased a new door. But I found the kick-plate solution that saved me $200.
  2. Balance your time, skill, and money. Everything doesn’t have to be DIY. It’s okay to outsource some jobs if the skill level needed to complete the repair is high and the cost is reasonable. Or sometimes asking an expert can help you determine if you need to outsource. Checkout Just Answer where their experts are available 24/7.
  3. Repair, but don’t necessarily improve. Renting your home out is not the same as trying to sell it. It doesn’t have to be in perfect condition. Every improvement decision should be made only after asking “will this increase my rent asking price?”
  4. Try to make all the repairs before your first showing. Prospective renters want to see the place in the shape that it’s going to be when they rent it. Do all of your repairs quickly and up front. We started showing the rental unit prior to completing many of the repairs and I could tell that it did have a negative effect on some potential renters.
  5. Add a repair and maintenance clause in your rental agreement so that it’s clear who is responsible for what going forward. For instance, my tenant will be responsible for changing the a/c filter Avail’s free rental property management tool can actually help with this – their maintenance management tool will keep you and your tenants in the loop regarding any ongoing maintenance needs.

What are your tips for fixing up your rental properties?

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  1. Avatar says:

    I’d say there are two questions — “will it increase the rent asking price” OR “will it reduce the amount of time that the property sits vacant?” Some “wow factor” upgrades won’t necessarily increase the asking price, depending on the rent “ceiling” in your area, but might shorten the vacancy period by a month. Those types of things are worth doing!

    1. Avatar Philip Taylor says: Great addition, Paula! And I would say that, in general, improvements to older properties would have a greater affect on things than improvements to a 5 year old home.

  2. Avatar retirebyforty says:

    The dryer vent needs a cleaning at our rental and I’ll probably source that out. I don’t have the equipment to do it and I’m a bit busy with the baby right now. I’ll try to do more once the kid is a bit older. 

  3. Avatar Money Life and More says:

    I think the repair and maintenance clause is big. I remember in my last lease I had to pay for and take care of anything less than $40.

  4. I believe if you show respect for the rental property and choose responsible tenants, you will naturally have people that will take good care of your property.  Which over the course of the rental will save you money in time and repairs.

    1. Avatar Philip Taylor says:

       @Adaptu Great tip!

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