What’s the Difference Between Property Management and Property Maintenance?
Written by: Veronique Hart, Property Management Specialist - Published: Aug 18, 2022
If you are the owner of a rental property, you make decisions every day regarding the management and maintenance of your property. Property management companies conduct their own separate but related tasks to ensure a property is functioning and clean. The relationships among landlords/property owners, property management companies, and maintenance workers may seem complicated if the different responsibilities of each group are not clearly defined. Additionally, tenants may need clarification on what their landlord’s specific responsibilities are regarding the maintenance of their property. The following guide is meant to clarify the differences between property management and property maintenance, and to delineate the responsibilities belonging to tenants, landlords, and property management companies.
What is Property Maintenance?
In order to understand the unique responsibilities of landlords, residential tenants, and property owners, it is useful to first define the difference between property maintenance and management. Property maintenance involves the general upkeep and cleaning of a property, including both functional and cosmetic repairs.
Although a landlord or property owner may use a property management company to hire maintenance contractors, property management corporations do not provide maintenance services themselves. For example, if a landlord utilizes a property management service, they may use this company to streamline the hiring process of outside HVAC technicians, painters, carpenters, repairmen, locksmiths, or electricians.
Is Property Maintenance the Landlord’s Responsibility?
What are a landlord’s exact duties when it comes to property maintenance, upkeep, and cleaning? Typically, the landlord themself does not perform maintenance work. Instead, maintenance work is often conducted by:
- Contractors hired by the landlord
- Maintenance staff, in larger apartment complexes
- Workers hired by property management companies
Although it is not the landlord’s responsibility to perform maintenance tasks themselves, it is their responsibility to ensure all their properties meet local health and safety codes. If a property lacks structural integrity, functioning locks, heat, electricity, or running water, a landlord must hire maintenance workers to restore their property to local health codes.
Tenant’s responsibility of property maintenance tasks include overall care of the property.
Although they do not own the property in question, residential tenants do share some responsibility in the general upkeep of their home. Common tenant property maintenance responsibilities include:
- Changing smoke alarm batteries
- Mowing the yard and other small landscaping jobs
- Removing stains on carpet, tile, and flooring
- Taking out the garbage
- Reporting maintenance issues to their landlord
- Repairing any damages caused by the tenant themselves or their invited guests
Property manager’s have an obligation to provide prompt maintenance duties.
Property managers are responsible for ensuring all maintenance tasks are completed in a timely manner. They may delegate tasks to on-site maintenance crews or hire outside contractors. Property managers must guarantee that the following tasks are completed on their properties:
- Trash removal
- Pest control
- Pothole repair in parking lots or sidewalks
- Maintain cleanliness of common areas (such as apartment pool, business center, clubhouse, gym, or office)
- Landscaping of common areas for curb appeal
- Regular inspections of property
Preventative Property Maintenance
One of the most important tasks of a property manager is the implementation of preventative property maintenance. Preventative property maintenance can be used to identify and solve problems before they cause permanent damage to the property. Regular execution of preventative property maintenance can improve the value of the property and save owners money over time.
Ensure properties have adequate and competent pest control services.
Creatures such as mice, rats, and termites can easily infiltrate a property if preventative measures are not taken. To avoid permanent damage to building foundations, electrical wiring, and sheetrock, property managers should conduct scheduled pest control measures (such as bug spray, rat poison, etc.).
Timely inspections reduce surprise property maintenance and costs.
It can be helpful to be aware of potential issues on a property rather than be surprised by those problems down the line. Regular inspections of a property’s HVAC system, water supply, or smoke detector system can alert property owners of future hazards. Inspections may be conducted by on-site staff or independent contractors.
Maintaining common areas increases curb appeal and keeps renters safe.
Without proper care, common areas in apartment complexes (such as the apartment gym, pool, parking lot, sidewalks, or laundry) can leave property owners liable for any number of injuries. By conducting daily maintenance and addressing hazards immediately, property managers can ensure the safety of residential tenants and their guests.
Reactive Property Maintenance
Unlike preventative property maintenance, reactive property maintenance addresses present and ongoing issues. Reactive maintenance is often addressed by on-site staff because they can immediately respond to any present issues. However, if independent contractors are called (and are available) immediately, the issue may still be solved in a short amount of time.
Depending on local laws, landlords and property owners have a fixed amount of time in which they must address tenants’ maintenance requests. However, this does not apply to maintenance tasks that are the responsibility of the tenant. For example, a landlord would not be responsible for replacing a kitchen appliance that the tenant damaged through misuse of their rental property.
When are property managers responsible for implementing reactive property maintenance? Some scenarios to illustrate reactive property maintenance include:
- A tenant’s heater breaks down during an unprecedented winter storm
- A rental unit’s oven is overheating, presenting a potential fire risk
- The washing machine in an upstairs unit is leaking, resulting in water damage to the floor and ceiling of the apartment below
- The outdoor lighting in a large apartment complex’s parking lot is malfunctioning, resulting in low visibility
- An apartment building’s pipes are backed up and the water coming from the faucets is contaminated
How Property Management and Property Maintenance Work Together
As we have established, property management and property maintenance are often conducted by separate entities and encompass separate, discrete responsibilities. However, property managers must work in conjunction with maintenance staff and contractors to ensure the property is clean, efficient, and maintained. Each party should be aware of their respective duties to ensure successful property maintenance.
Hiring a property management company often means access to reliable workers, handymen, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and other maintenance staff. Without these staff, property managers cannot ensure the upkeep of their properties. Excellent property management working together with reliable property maintenance is the key to a beautiful residential property.
3 Benefits of a Property Management Company Performing Maintenance
Should property management companies perform maintenance themselves or hire maintenance workers as contractors? In some cases, using a property management company’s on-site maintenance staff can be simpler, quicker, and cheaper than hiring out jobs to independent contractors.
On-site staff lowers the cost of maintenance and repairs.
Did you know that the average cost of maintenance jobs completed by on-site staff is lower than when they are completed by outside contractors? When you hire a property management company, they often come with a built-in workforce of maintenance workers and staff. Large properties, such as apartment complexes, will generally have a permanent on-site staff. Utilizing property management companies for your maintenance tasks can save you money on maintenance, inspections, and repairs.
Quicker reactive maintenance by on-site staff lowers possible damages and risks to the property.
Is there an issue on your rental property that requires immediate, reactive maintenance? Emergencies like busted pipes, broken heaters, or any safety concerns need to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration of your property. An on-site maintenance crew can respond to and address emergencies on your properties within hours.
Proper property maintenance increases property value.
A responsive and reliable maintenance crew on your property will ensure tenant satisfaction. Additionally, the availability of this staff to conduct daily preventative maintenance will prevent you from spending more on reactive maintenance down the line. Regular maintenance from an on-site staff can increase the value of your property over time.