How to reduce maintenance costs for rental properties

Wednesday May 20 2020

Regularly inspect your property to ensure

Regularly inspect your property to ensure tenants are keeping it in good condition. Photo by Shabibah 

By Carolyne B. Atangaza

Under normal circumstances, tenants do their best to keep the property clean and sanitary. After all who wants to work or live in a rundown property? But there are some maintenance repairs a landlord or property manager should do. Fahad Kazibwe, a property manager, says most times he does repairs in response to a problem.

Get to the root
“As a rule, I do not repair something that is not broken. The commonest complaints I get from my tenants are blocked sinks, blocked bathroom drains and hinges coming undone on closet and cabinet doors,” Kazibwe shares. Although these seem like simple problems to fix, Kazibwe realised he was spending a lot of money doing them.

“I decided the only way to make the problem go away was to get to its root, so I decided to spend more and have the drainage system overhauled once and for all. I have not got those complaints since then,” says the property manager.

Tenant screening
Reducing maintenance and repair costs according to Kazibwe starts with the kind of property and the type of tenants one has. “There are some types of tenants well known for trashing houses. I do not care how much money they have, I can never let them in any of the properties I manage. I do not know how they do it but they do a really good job at messing up people’s properties,” he says.

Asked how one can tell whether a prospective tenant is one of those that trash houses, Kazibwe says there is always talk in the real estate circles. “If you value your property, you have to learn to screen tenants or else you will spend all the money you get repairing things they break.

Usually when I get a tenant, I ask the broker who has brought them to me where they lived before and why they are moving. I then talk to their previous landlord, you will be amazed how much that saves you the headache and financial loss,” the property manager shares. Similarly, Kazibwe reveals he takes his time to educate his tenants about how the fixtures in the properties work.


“Do not take things for granted, people need to be told that their sink cannot be used as a garbage disposal and that they cannot flash down polythene bags in the toilet. This seems like a simple preventive measure but it saves you money wasted unclogging sinks and toilets,” he says.

Quality material
In regards to the type of property, he says property owners should invest in nothing but the highest quality of fixtures and workmanship. You have probably heard the adage prevention is better than cure. The preventive measure here is to install durable fixtures and work with the best crew even if this might be more expensive.

“If you walk into a property with cheap fittings, just know it will end up costing you. I learnt this the hard way. I once managed a property that initially came with these cheap water taps and doors that kept breaking down and the owner of the property was reluctant to replace them. But after showing him how much I had already spent, he let me redo the whole property. He learnt the hard way but the good news is he stopped the bleeding forever,” says Kazibwe.

Regular checks
Nicholas Ssebagala, a property owner stresses the importance of doing regular checks and maintenance. This, he says is a very important element in reducing your rental property maintenance costs.

Seasonal maintenance
Tenants expect to live in a property that contributes positively to their overall welfare and quality of life. It is your obligation to make sure the property remains functional and habitable for them to live in. This requires you to do seasonal maintenance.

Make sure you routinely do some painting to prevent cracking and deterioration, check the roof tiles, and fumigation.
Also plan to replace any item in the property that depreciates in value, including floor tiles, sinks, ACs, water tanks that have started leaking, doors and windows among others which help control problems before they escalate.

“As a property owner do not ignore your tenants when they complain about issues because responding on time not only saves you money but prevents the escalation of repair issues. In fact, encourage your tenants to report to you anything they do not feel comfortable with by replacing or repairing what needs to be fixed. Besides, repairing also helps raise the standard of your property as well as save you money in the long run,” says Sebagala.