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Annual maintenance checklist for property managers

Maintaining Your Properties

It’s often the big bells and whistles in multifamily dwellings that attract residents, whether it’s on-demand fitness studios, Wi-Fi throughout the site, or even 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. And part of that is staying on top off your regular maintenance and upgrade list. And, there are some specific things 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, new countertops, or upgraded 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 everything is kept to code (gym equipment, appliances, structural integrity, etc…)

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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 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.”
  • 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.
  • Replace lobby flooring, whether wood, stone, tile, or vinyl every 15 to 30 years. If 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. And remember to put down mats when it’s snowy or rainy, and have a front awning to protect residents’ and their shoes and boots.
  • Change 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 and replace/upholster furnishings when they show wear. Good quality furnishings will last, but they should be kept clean on a regular basis.
  • Repaint or clean the exterior annually. Yearly inspections are important and have to be done in some cities and states. It’s wise to plan to repaint certain parts of the building every two to three years, tuckpoint 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 windows four times a year. At a minimum, twice a year, once in the spring and in the fall.
    Inspect terraces and balconies annually. Railings and balcony floors should be inspected to ensure they can support a set weight.
  • Clean and inspect downspouts, gutters, and other water-related features twice a year. 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 and repair furnaces, air conditioning systems, and plumbing annually. In the spring, check the AC and change fluids or filters, and in the fall inspect the furnace and change filters.
  • Inspect and service elevators and sprinkler systems every year. Elevators and sprinkler systems should be inspected annually, usually by the fire department, but it may depend on your city code.
  • Landscape seasonally. Curb appeal is everything: invest in your outdoor plants every season to keep your building looking it’s best.
  • Upgrade gym equipment, computers, and laundry machines every few years. This will help keep your building efficient and your residents safe.
  • Replace roofs every 20 to 30 years. Good roofs will last decades, but should be inspected regularly, especially after bad weather.

What else do you find belongs on a regular property maintenance service checklist? Comment with your ideas, below!

Barbara Ballinger

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).