Maintenance of any rental building, either residential or commercial, should be handled as much as possible as a routine rather than an emergency. Preventative maintenance must be performed regularly to keep the level of service at the property high and to reduce equipment breakdowns and service interruptions. Toward this end, the maintenance staff and on-site manager should make regular inspections for the repair and replacement of items before problems occur. Preventative maintenance reduces the number of emergencies by anticipating wear and tear that the property, buildings, and equipment will undergo.
Preventative maintenance is one of the most important components of successful property management. An appropriate preventative maintenance program should be developed for both large and small properties, regardless of whether the building staff consists of only a part-time maintenance worker or a larger number of employees supported by a computerized maintenance program.
Careful preventative maintenance eliminates corrective and emergency repairs later. While many owners and managers consider preventative maintenance a poor use of cash, and some claim to have no time for it, the truth is that preventative maintenance, by identifying problems in the early stages, saves both time and money.
How To Start
The following four steps are required to develop a good preventative maintenance program:
- Prepare an inventory of all items that require servicing during the year.
- Determine the type of service, frequency, and cost efficiency of performing the work required by each item.
- Schedule the work throughout the year.
- Control and revise the preventative maintenance program as needed.
The building, major equipment, and grounds should be inspected regularly by the maintenance supervisor to note both unusual and normal wear and tear. This inspection is, by and large, a quick visual one. For work that needs to be performed, a work order should be prepared.
The property manager should inspect the interior and exterior of the property and a detailed inspection report form can be used as a reference for the daily inspections. These forms should be completed on a regular basis in accordance with the maintenance plan. In general, these inspection reports should be completed at a minimum of once each month.
Evidence of building settlement, structural damage, leaks, and corrosion should be noted during building inspections. In addition to regular daytime inspections, there should also be occasional night inspections to test and examine lighting and other security features; these inspections should include an evaluation of the property’s appearance to visitors and prospective tenants.
Emergency maintenance is a form of corrective maintenance. Immediate action must be initiated to correct emergency situations that threaten the life and health of tenants, as well as the integrity of the property. Situations requiring emergency maintenance can be created by fires, floods, and burglaries, or the malfunctioning of major equipment (e.g., broken elevators, gas or water main leaks). Preparations for such an emergency should begin upon occupancy. Tenants and building personnel should be versed in emergency procedures such as evacuation and should receive a list of telephone numbers for the local police, fire department, and utility repair persons, as well as the building’s 24-hour emergency number. Emergency maintenance is the most costly of all maintenance types because of dangerous conditions and the swift response they require.