If you are a long distance landlord, minor maintenance issues can become an expensive repair. It is near impossible maximize your revenue if you are paying for every thing the tenants complain about. And to make things worse, lower quality tenants complain more. When they are going to be late on their rent, complaints become almost non-stop.
It always helps if you can do some simple maintenance on your rental properties. If you are able to troubleshoot simple issues, you can save a lot of money. Often, just being able to look at the problem, and making a simple precursory look, you can even fix the issue.
Here is an example that I came across recently. I could have handled it from a distance, but it would have been much more expensive and taken longer to resolve.
Most of my rentals are within three miles of my house. If you are further away, this simple fix becomes exponentially more troublesome and costly. I have written about managing property from a distance before. It is possible, but sometimes you need boots on the ground.
I had a tenant text me about the common area washing machine being ‘out of order’ the other day. I use Maytag front load commercial washers and dryers for my common area laundry machines. They rarely go out, and are generally easy to troubleshoot or fix if something does happen. The machines are set to ‘free’ in this building, so the laundry is included in the rent. They can add .25 for a ‘super cycle’, but it makes no sense as they can just run a entire new wash cycle.
When I got to the machine, I noticed the following error flashing across the electronic display. “Out of order error F30”. I should have taken a picture, but I forgot…
Once I saw the error code, I knew there was a problem. I had never seen that error code before, I was actually expecting a different one. One that I had already fixed and knew what I was doing… A maintenance call from the local laundry repair place is ~$85, plus mileage, plus parts. And the tenants are without a washer for as long as it takes for them to come out, likely a couple of days. The machine was still under warranty for parts, but labor was not covered anymore. So, my cost would have been capped at ~$125, most likely.
Since I was there, I had to attempt something. The tenant came down to see what I was doing, so I also had to make it look like I knew what I was doing. I attended a Maytag laundry class a couple of years ago. I actually took a day of vacation to attend the $30, one day class. In the morning the instructor, who was from Maytag, took apart a washer, and put it back together piece by piece. This was completed all by lunch time.
While the instructor was disassembling and reassembling the equipment, with minimal tools, he was giving interesting information about laundry machines. Information on optimal wash times, how much the average family does wash, and information on the different option settings, etc. It was a lot of great statistical information and laundry trivia.
In the afternoon, after the ‘free’ lunch that was provided, the instructor did the same thing with the dryer. These pieces of equipment are not complicated at all. It was a great learning experience. And while I would probably try a few things even without the class, being through the calls gives me the confidence to know I can fix most items.
The first thing I tried was to unplug the machine, wait a minute or so, and plug it back in. Many issues can be resolved, with many items, with this simple technique. Even computer issues, network issues, modem problems, etc. Unfortunately, this was not the case today. The Maytag F30 error message came up as fast as the LED display could light up.
I have a ‘Smart’ phone, so I Googled the error message while the machine was unplugged for a bit. That’s a huge benefit of today’s environment; there is a ton of information at your fingertips. No matter what your issue is, someone has dedicated their life to helping you solve it.
There were many results, and it indicated the dispenser actuator was somehow out of sync with the cycle. The pages explained how to take three screws off the back of the machine, move the actuator, and try a few more things, etc. Looking further, I saw there were several YouTube videos about the subject. Whenever you are confronted by an issue, no matter what the issue is, you can find someone on YouTube that has dedicated their life to helping you solve it.
Remembering from the washing machine class I took, there is a way to reset the washing machine. I can never remember exactly how to do it, but the idea is to hold down one of the buttons while you open the service door on the washer. There are six buttons, and I can never remember which one it is. So it takes a few tries, but I get it done.
The machine then went through some reset process, all the LEDs lit up, and it shows all is well. I started a cycle and everything appeared normal. I had to wait 30 minutes for the cycle to complete, but there were no additional errors. If I would remember how make the machine go into a short cycle mode, it would have done the entire wash sequence in about two minutes. I will have to study (and remember) on the one…
I texted the tenants to let them know the washer was back on. One had already walked down and was talking to me while the cycle was finishing. The tenant was impressed that within an hour after her text, I was already there with a potential fix.
So there you have it. No expense for this fix. Just a fairly quick reset and all is well. The tenants were happy, and impressed. That experience will go a long way at renewal time, when they have to make a decision on whether to go to a devil they do not know, or the devil they do know.
The machine has been working fine ever since! Al these rental repairs save money, and get you closer to your goal of financial independence.
Do you consider yourself a handy person? capable of fixing, or attempting to fix, most items? Or do you call for help at the slightest issue?