Category Archives: capital repairs


Managing Financial Issues as a Property Manager 

Whether you own one property or multiple communities, property management is a juggling act between the paperwork, vendors, fielding renter questions, and the finances that determine the overall running of your properties. 

Financial issues often rank as some of the more challenging for property managers, whether it is collecting rent, planning for capital expenditures, or handling the payment to vendors such as a landscape crew, plumbers, or electricians. 

Thankfully there are some tips to the trade for new property managers to assist with the smooth running and financial management of your properties. 

Budget for Year-Round Expenses 

While it may be easy to anticipate that your property will need a fall or spring clean-up from the landscaping vendor, it may not be as obvious to determine your budget for repairs and unit maintenance. 

Tracking past years’ repairs and maintenance can be a huge help in budgeting your year-round expenses. Talking to other property managers can also help you anticipate expenses that happen seasonally. For instance, frozen pipes in the winter, clogged gutters in the fall,  and heating/cooling issues all year long. 


Anticipate Capital Expenditures 

Capital expenditures, also referred to as CapEx, are the improvements to a property that increases its value such as updating the electrical, replacing the roof, upgrading appliances, overhauling the floors, and the list can go on and on. 

Capital expenditures tend to be the most costly and need to be budgeted for in the years leading up to the improvements. Savvy property managers know to plan well in advance for these CapEx improvements so they will be financially ready to make the investment. Budgeting and saving for these expenses is a key part of the accounting of rent and other finances throughout the year. 

Go Digital 

Keeping track of finances can be a time-consuming process. We suggest using software designed for property managers that can help streamline your paperwork as well as allow you to budget for regular repairs and capital expenditures. 

Accounting software for rental properties allows you to record daily bookkeeping items, track receipts, create reports, and prepare for tax season in minutes instead of hours (or days). Here is a quick list of some of the more popular software and applications that can help you stay organized and save time when it comes to property management finances. 

It isn’t always possible to hire a professional to take care of your books and balance the inflow and outflow of money, but in many cases, that person can help you balance the books, save for larger expenses, and plan for the future of your property as their primary job. 



Common Damage Vs Wear-and-Tear in Rental Units 

If you are a landlord or property manager you know that there is some level of regular wear-and-tear damage that you are willing to accept when a tenant moves out. However, when does that normal wear-and-tear become a devaluation of the property that can be taken out of the security deposit? 

When one thinks of damage in rental units, we think about holes in walls, burn marks, and unusable appliances. While these are pretty common, let’s take a closer look at these and other scenarios that you will need to examine to determine if they are caused just by living there or if the damage is extensive enough that it needs to be repaired and deducted from a tenant’s security deposit. 

Normal Wear-and-Tear

Depending upon how long your tenants have lived in the unit, there may be quite a bit of wear-and-tear. For instance, it is fairly common for wood floors to be scuffed or carpets to need cleaning. It’s also normal for walls to have small nail holes from picture hangings. 

These examples are all normal for the use of an apartment and can not be charged to a security deposit. Usually security deposits are used to compensate for out of the ordinary damage. The cost of basic cleaning, repairing, and prepping the unit for the next tenant is a cost of the business. Your state’s landlord laws will explain exactly what you can and can not deduct from the security deposit and should be part of the rental agreement in advance of renting to an individual. 

circular saw

Unit Damage 

Let’s take a moment to talk about damage that can be deducted from the security deposit. 


While it’s normal to have nail holes where pictures or wall hangings once existed, it is not normal to have larger holes in the walls where roughhousing was an issue or furniture repeatedly hit the walls, or even physical altercations occurred. These holes are the responsibility of the tenant to repair or risk losing a security deposit. 

Flooring Damage 

Carpets in need of cleaning or wood floors that need buffing are normal wear-and tear. What’s out of the normal are burn marks on the carpet, pet urine stains, excessive food stains, or torn carpeting. The same goes for gauges or water stains on a hardwood floor. 

Nicotine Stains 

Smoking can cause an excessive amount of damage to the walls ceiling, floor coverings and drapery of a unit. The discolored yellow stains are difficult to remove and the smell even harder to remedy. These stains may be able to be charged to a security deposit depending upon the level of damage and the terms of a lease agreement. 

Unauthorized Painting 

While it is not unheard of for landlords to allow painting in an apartment by a tenant, it is something that may need to be refreshed after the unit is unoccupied. If painting occurred without authorization, a landlord may be able to assess compensation for the cost of repainting the unit so that it can be rented again. 


plumbing repair

Most Common Repairs in Rental Property 

No home, apartment, or condominium is immune to breakdowns or the need for repairs. Even the most well-cared for properties have a lifespan. Knowing that rental property repairs are an inevitable part of being a landlord or property manager means that you know how a fast and reliable response is key to retaining happy tenants. 

In order to understand the role of a good property manager, it is critical to understand the most common repairs that they must be prepared for no matter how new or old the facilities are. 

Faulty Appliances 

From the fridge to the stop to the dishwasher the number of things that could go wrong is infinitesimal. Every appliance has working and moving parts which means more possibilities of things going wrong. 

Dishwashers that won’t operate the rinse cycle, freezers that are burnt out, and ovens that have heating elements that no longer work are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to appliances that need repairs. 

Property managers can choose a few methods to deal with these unavoidable incidents; they can hire a full time repair person to troubleshoot each appliance issue, or contract a repair company that has a wide range of specialists depending upon the appliance and brand of appliance. Then there is always the do-it-yourself option that often results in calling an expert in the end anyway. 

plumbing tools

Leaks, Drips, & Clogs 

One of the most common (and costly) repair areas in a rental property is plumbing. This could include: dripping faucets, leaky pipes, and clogged toilets, sinks, and tubs. 

Water is the common denominator for all of these issues and sadly, it can cost hundreds of dollars to fix these types of issues. Not fixing is not an option as mold and mildew may develop along with damaging wood, drywall, flooring, and ceilings in the process. 

Add to this list, clogged toilets and garbage disposals that are no longer churning, and property owners could be running from one unit to the next ad nauseum. 

Having a trusty plumber on call, or even on the payroll, can help keep costs down as well as reminding tenants to notify management the moment a problem arises. 


Pesky Pests 

No tenant or unit owner wants to deal with mice, rats, termites, ants, bed bugs, or any of the number of pests that could take up residence in a property. 

According to new research by Apartment Guide, Boston, Massachusetts and the Greater Boston region was named the area with the second most rodent infestations. First place to this undesirable award goes to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

The Massachusetts area is experiencing a higher than usual rodent infestation in the last few years. Whether the cause is changing weather or an increase in urban construction, it is apparent that rental properties are experiencing these pests at an alarming rate. 

In order to combat these issues property managers and landlords should keep up with regular pest control services. It’s also helpful to remind tenants of behaviors that could be attracting pests such as open trash cans, rotting food, and unclean spaces. 

Maintaining properties is a full time job and one that can be equated with happy tenants and unit owners. Make sure you have skilled craftsmen on call to handle all of your repairs as they arise. 


hammer with nails

HOA or Homeowner Repairs: Who Is Responsible For What? 

The regular and thorough maintenance of a condominium community is one of the aspects of living in a homeowner’s association (HOA) that many unit owners appreciate. In fact, many unit owners potentially chose a community because they would not need to take care of typical chores that other homeowners need to deal with, such as mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, regular repairs, plowing the driveway, repairing broken and well-worn aspects of the building, and cleaning of the common areas and amenities. 

While most HOAs have bylaws and governing documents that clearly outline who needs to maintain and repair what areas, it can sometimes be confusing to figure out who handles certain repairs. Therefore, the goal of today’s blog is to educate unit owners, future buyers, and association members about maintenance responsibilities which fall in a unit owner domain versus those of a homeowner’s association. 

How HOA’s Are Divided

Before buying a condo or moving into a community, it is always good to understand how the responsibilities are divided. Association responsibilities are usually divided between the governing board and the individual unit owners. 

Individual unit owners are generally in control of the rights of that unit. Unless otherwise stated in the association bylaws or documents, this includes: the floors, ceilings, and walls of each unit including the airspace and paint on the interior walls. In townhome communities, this area of responsibility extended to the individual piece of land surrounding each individual unit, as well as any other structure/s within it.

Likewise, associations and the governing boards connected to them, have areas that they are responsible for maintaining and repairing. The Declaration, Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) document should have detailed information that will set out specifics for each community. This document is made available to all community members. 

The HOA handles the maintenance of shared common areas as well as the overall building structure. Limited common areas are the shared responsibility of the HOA and unit owners who benefit from them. 

Specifics to Your Association 

Before you request a repair or start working on one within your individual unit, you may want to consult the CC&R for your association. Here are a few areas that could get confusing so you will want to ask for clarification. 

  • Roof and exterior walls: Depending upon the guidelines of your community, these areas are most often defined as common elements, but the unit might include the interior surface or drywall.
  • Floors or ceilings: Similar to walls, the unit might include just the surface, halfway through, or the whole floor or ceiling. Check your CC&R for specifics. 
  • Windows and doors: As determined by your association contract, the frames, glass, and the hardware might or might not be a part of the unit. It could be considered a common area. 
  • Permanent fixtures: Cabinets, flooring, sinks, and the like are typically considered part of the unit and thus the responsibility falls to the owner of the unit. However, certain fixtures including outdoor porch lights or garage lights might not be included.
  • Plumbing, electric, air conditioning systems: The portions serving air, water, and electricity to the unit may be under the unit owner’s domain, but when these areas serve other units as well, it could be considered a common area.  
  • Decks, balconies, and patios: These might be part of the unit, common elements, or limited common elements. (Source: Nolo Law) 

As you can see, the determining factors of what responsibilities belong to which party is mostly included in the documentation given to unit owners at the time of the purchase of the property. Examine those documents before you begin any repairs to determine who is physically and financially responsible. 



Capital Improvements Vs Regular Maintenance

One of the frequently cited reasons why residents choose condo or community living is the idea that they have very little responsibility when it comes to maintenance, upkeep, and repairs for the structure of the buildings, outdoor areas and amenity areas. In fact, it frees up quite a bit of time and energy for homeowners who live busy work lives and want to spend their free time tending to family, friends, or hobbies they enjoy. 

Capital repairs or improvements, therefore, are an important part of the management of a condo or rental community. It is critical that the board in charge has a plan for what major upkeep items are scheduled each year and, in particular, what season is best to complete those repairs. Some projects are of greater consequence than others, so creating a calendar and list that is prioritized should be a part of the HOA or property management team’s responsibility. 


What’s The Goal Of Capital Repairs? 

According to the Homeowners Protection Bureau, LLC, “A capital improvement is a planned discretionary permanent replacement, renovation, or alteration to the property that serves to increase the value,  makes it more useful, or  prolong its life.”  

As a member of an HOA or a community you will probably pay annual assessments, special assessments, and capital improvement assessments subject to being a part of that HOA. If you rent an apartment or home, your landlord will probably build the fees into the monthly rent or as a part of your deposit or downpayment. 


What Are Included In Capital Repairs? 

Capital repairs otherwise known as capital improvements are not HOA maintenance fees. Those fees are generally maintenance fees for the regular upkeep of the property such as landscaping, gardening, cleaning the pool, maintaining the fitness room, maintaining the safety of the driveways during the winter months, and caring for common areas. 

Capital repairs or improvements are completely different. For example, cleaning and maintaining the pool area would fall under regular maintenance that you pay your HOA fee for. Capital repairs could include replacing the changing rooms, switching out new tables and patio equipment, or replacing the stone pavers. These things are larger ticket items that would need to be saved for and would only occur once every few years rather than annually. 

Another example of the difference between regular maintenance and the capital improvements would be plowing the walkways and parking lots in the winter vs repaving the lots or repairing frost heaves or cracks. Again, these repairs are more costly and don’t happen as regularly as the maintenance items do. 

Talk to your landlord or HOA about what the schedule is for your community in regard to capital repairs or improvements and find out how your voice can be heard on recommendations of future repairs. 

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