Annual maintenance checklist for property managers

Barbara Ballinger
Barbara Ballinger | 4 min. read
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Published on November 8, 2016

It’s often the big bells and whistles in multifamily dwellings that attract residents, whether it’s on-site fitness centers, Wi-Fi throughout the site, or coffee bars in the common area.

But to keep residents there long after the allure of exciting amenities have worn off, you need a solid infrastructure to keep the building in tip-top shape. Part of that is staying on top of your regular maintenance and upgrade list. Plus, there are some specific updates that will keep current residents happy and attract new ones every year.

For example, individual apartments should be freshened when a tenant renews or moves out: painting, re-carpeting, adding new countertops, or upgrading appliances. Doing this type of work on a regular basis offers another huge perk: You probably won’t be scrambling to replace a conked-out furnace in the dead of winter if you’ve been having it cleaned and serviced each fall.

Remember that some maintenance steps are required, according to city or state guidelines. For example, in New York state, buildings that are six or more stories high must have their facades inspected every five years by licensed engineers to be sure no loose bricks or other building elements inadvertently fall on passersby. Jobs like this should probably be outsourced, to be sure that everything is kept to code (gym equipment, appliances, structural integrity, etc.).

For more specifics, we talked with Peter DiNatale, President, Peter Di Natale & Associates, Inc., a full-service general contracting and management firm for multifamily residential and commercial buildings in New York. Here’s what he recommends.

Paint Common Areas

This should be done every five to seven years—or, DiNatale says, “When they start to look worn and paint starts to chip or wear off, or has an uneven sheen, it’s time.”

Replace Carpeting

Re-carpet hallways and other shared spaces every five years. This is about the time carpet will start to unravel and become a tripping hazard.

Choose New Lobby Floors

Change out lobby flooring, whether it’s wood, stone, tile, or vinyl, every 15 to 30 years. If it’s been maintained properly, stone, tile, and wood can last as long as 30 years. Vinyl’s lifetime is shorter, usually around 15 years. But if a wood floor is cleaned weekly, it can last, then be rescreened or polyurethaned every two to three years. Stone can be buffed every two to three years to remain looking good. Remember to put down mats when it’s snowy or rainy.

Update Light Fixtures

Add new light fixtures (not just bulbs) every 10 years or so. Quality fixtures can last for years, but many older ones aren’t compatible with new LED bulbs. Most buildings don’t tend to change the fixtures, however, until it’s time to repaint.

Clean & Replace Upholstery

Clean upholstered furnishings regularly, until they begin to show signs of wear—that’s when it’s time to consider replacing them.

Update Building Exteriors

Repaint or clean the exterior annually. Yearly inspections are important and are even required in some cities and states. It’s wise to plan to repaint certain parts of the building every two to three years; check the tuckpointing every five years or so; and clean limestone, which can get very dirty, every 10 to 15 years, depending on pollution and climate (salt air can be tough on materials).

Clean the Windows

This is a task that should be done four times a year. At a minimum, twice a year, once in the spring and in the fall.

Inspect Balconies & Terraces

Check on terraces and balconies annually. Railings and balcony floors should be inspected to ensure that they can support a set weight.

Clean & Inspect Gutters

Check on downspouts, gutters, and other water-related features twice a year. Clean them once in the fall when leaves are falling and again in the spring after trees flower to avoid debris getting clogged and causing backups.

Service HVAC & Plumbing

Check and repair furnaces, air conditioning systems, and plumbing annually. In the spring, check the A/C and change fluids or filters; and in the fall, inspect the furnace and change filters.

Inspected Elevators & Sprinklers

Elevators and sprinkler systems should be serviced and inspected annually, usually by the fire department, but it may depend on your city code.

Invest in Landscaping

Landscape seasonally. Curb appeal is everything: Invest in your outdoor plants every season to keep your property looking its best.

Upgrade Technology

Consider getting new gym equipment, computers, laundry machines, and other technology every few years. This will help keep your building efficient and your residents safe.

Inspect the Roof

Replace roofs every 20 to 30 years. Good roofs will last decades, but should be inspected regularly, especially after bad weather.

Which other tasks are on your annual property maintenance service checklist? Comment with your ideas below!

Read more on Maintenance & Improvements
Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate, design, and family business; her website is barbaraballinger.com. Her most recently published book is The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing).

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