Join the 3,000 people getting fresh weekly insights about proptech and the real estate industry.

    Key takeaways


    • Proactive upkeep of rental properties can prevent larger repair bills, enhance property value, and boost tenant satisfaction, leading to reduced turnover.
    • Owners often encounter plumbing, electrical, appliance, HVAC, structural, and cosmetic repairs. Costs vary by specific issue and location.
    • In 2023, homeowners are spending an average of $2,985 on home repairs. As maintenance costs rise, timely repairs paired with a clear strategy can prevent overspending, preserve property value, and ensure tenant satisfaction.
    • While DIY approaches can offer immediate cost savings, hiring professionals might provide long-term value and quality. The decision depends on the kind of repair, the owner’s abilities, and budget limits, all while making sure quality and safety come first.

    Owning rental property is more than just collecting rent and ensuring a fresh coat of paint every few years. It’s about understanding the heartbeat of the property, from the flicker of a light switch to the hum of an HVAC system. But with every element of a property comes the inevitable need for repairs. 

    For property owners, having a clear grasp of potential repair costs isn’t just about budgeting effectively; it’s also about ensuring that decisions are made in the best interest of both the property’s longevity and the satisfaction of tenants. Ahead, we’ll take a look at common maintenance issues and their associated costs.



    The importance of regular maintenance


    In property management, regular maintenance is more than just a routine—it’s an investment. Preventive measures can save owners from hefty repair bills in the future. For instance, addressing a minor plumbing issue today can prevent hundreds of dollars in water damage down the line.

    Beyond cost-saving, consistent upkeep preserves the property’s value, making it appealing to both current and potential renters. A well-maintained property also signals to renters that their comfort is a priority, potentially leading to longer tenancies and reduced turnover.


    Recommended read: Cost of owning a rental property: What homeowners need to know



    Most common rental repairs and their estimated costs


    Owning a rental property requires a clear understanding of potential repairs and their associated costs. This can help you plan better and budget for these inevitable occurrences. 

    Most common maintenance issues


    Let’s delve into some of the most frequent repairs rental owners encounter.


    1. Plumbing issues

    • Leaky faucets and pipes: A dripping faucet isn’t just annoying; it can lead to increased water bills and potential water damage. The average cost for repairs generally ranges from $95 to $330, depending on the severity and location of the leak.
    • Clogged drains and toilets: Blocked passages can cause water backup, leading to unsanitary conditions and potential damage. Clearing these blockages usually costs between $100 for simple unclogging methods to $1,000 for hydro jet drain cleaning.
    • Broken garbage disposals: A malfunctioning disposal can disrupt kitchen routines. Repairing a unit generally costs an average of $250, while replacing it can cost around $400.


    2. Electrical issues

    • Faulty switches and outlets: Electrical issues should never be ignored. Repairing or replacing switches and outlets typically costs between $50 to $150.
    • Malfunctioning lights: Flickering or non-functional lights can impact safety. Rectifying these problems can range from $25 for a simple bulb replacement to $200 for correcting faulty wiring.
    • Circuit breaker issues: Essential for safety, a malfunctioning circuit breaker can pose a hazard. Repair costs vary based on the problem but generally range between $100 and $600.


    3. Appliances

    • Refrigerator malfunctions: A non-working fridge can lead to spoiled food and unhappy renters. Repairs, depending on the issue, can cost anywhere from $200 to $300.
    • Oven and stove repairs: Ensuring cooking appliances function correctly is essential for renter satisfaction. Repair costs can vary, usually falling between $150 and $600.
    • Dishwasher and washing machine issues: Malfunctioning units can cause water damage and inconvenience for the renter. Repairs generally range from $160 to $300.


    4. HVAC system

    • Filter replacements: A simple yet crucial task, changing filters ensures clean air and system efficiency. Replacement costs are relatively low, ranging from $15 to $50.
    • Thermostat malfunctions: A faulty thermostat can disrupt heating and cooling. Repairs or replacements usually cost between $100 and $300.
    • Duct cleaning and maintenance: Clean ducts enhance air quality and HVAC efficiency. Professional services typically charge $180 to $900 depending on the type of duct and the time it takes to complete the job.


    5. Structural Repairs

    • Roof leaks: Depending on the severity, repairing a leaky roof can range from $200 for minor fixes to $2,000 for more significant repairs.
    • Cracks in walls or ceilings: Structural integrity is vital. Addressing these issues early on can save money. Repair costs for minor cracks are generally low, ranging from $50 to $400, depending on the extent of the problem.
    • Window and door repairs: Ensuring proper insulation and security by fixing windows and doors can cost between $100 and $700, depending on the type of the issue.


    6. Cosmetic Fixes

    • Painting and touch-ups: Hiring a professional to give rooms a fresh look can range from $1,800 for smaller areas to $10,000 for entire homes. 
    • Carpet and floor repairs: Depending on the material and extent of damage, repair costs generally fall between $100 to $1,200 for minor fixes, while damages that call for major repairs cost upwards of $5,000. 
    • Cabinetry and hardware issues: Keeping storage spaces functional is important to renters. Cabinetry and hardware repairs generally range from as low as $50 to as much as $400.

    While these costs provide a general guideline, it’s essential to remember that prices can vary based on location, specific issues, and service providers. Always seek multiple quotes and prioritize safety and quality when considering repairs.



    Maintenance Inflation


    Recent years have seen a noticeable uptick in maintenance and home repair costs, impacting homeowners and rental property managers alike. A report by All-Star Home reveals that Americans have spent an average of $2,985 on home repairs in 2023, with 39% of homeowners delaying maintenance due to cost concerns. Even minor repairs have become pricier, with the average cost for common home repairs standing at around $493.

    Inflation can significantly cut into profits, too, making it crucial to balance timely repairs with budget management. Prompt maintenance ensures tenant satisfaction and property value preservation. Having a clear maintenance strategy can help mitigate financial strain and ensure the property remains well-maintained without overspending.



    DIY approach vs. hiring professionals


    One pressing decision many owners face is whether to take a hands-on DIY approach or to enlist the expertise of professionals. Both avenues come with their set of benefits and drawbacks, particularly when it comes to cost implications and the quality of work.


    Weighing the costs

    The allure of DIY is often rooted in the perception of cost-saving. Indeed, opting for a DIY fix typically means only spending on materials and tools. For instance, replacing a leaky faucet’s washer might cost just a few dollars when done yourself.

    Hiring a professional, on the other hand, involves paying for both their expertise and the materials used. That same leaky faucet might cost upwards of $100 when fixed by a plumber. However, this fee also covers the professional’s experience, ensuring the repair is done right and potentially saving money in the long run.


    Tips on cost-saving while ensuring quality

    • Educate yourself: If opting for DIY, invest some time in learning. Numerous online tutorials and local workshops can equip you with essential skills you can use to maintain your property without sacrificing quality.
    • Seek recommendations: If hiring professionals, ask for recommendations from fellow property owners or read online reviews. This can help you find skilled professionals with reasonable rates.
    • Purchase quality materials: Whether DIY or professional, don’t skimp on material quality. Often, investing in superior materials can extend the lifespan of the repair, offering better value over time.


    Ultimately, the choice between DIY and hiring professionals depends on the specific repair, the owner’s skill level, and budget constraints. Whichever route you choose, prioritizing quality and safety is paramount.



    Tenant’s Responsibility vs. Owner’s Responsibility


    A common area of confusion in rental properties is determining who foots the bill for repairs: the tenant or the owner? Clarifying these responsibilities from the outset can prevent disputes and ensure that both parties are informed on this matter.



    Understanding the rental agreement

    Rental or lease agreements should clearly specify the responsibilities of each party. Typically, owners are responsible for ensuring the property is habitable and safe. This means taking care of significant repairs, structural issues, and wear and tear. Renters, on the other hand, are usually responsible for damages that occur due to negligence or misuse on their part.



    Setting clear boundaries and expectations

    • Routine maintenance: Owners typically handle regular maintenance such as HVAC servicing, pest control, or plumbing inspections.
    • Accidental damages: If a renter accidentally breaks a window or damages an appliance, they are generally expected to cover the repair costs.
    • Wear and tear: Natural degradation, like a worn-out carpet in a home rented for several years, falls under the owner’s responsibility.


    Up next: 6 important tips for multi-unit rental maintenance



    Final Thoughts


    Owning and maintaining rental properties is undeniably a multifaceted endeavor. From understanding the nuances of common repairs and their associated costs to navigating the intricacies of responsibility allocation, property owners have their hands full. However, with proactive maintenance strategies, a clear understanding of responsibilities, and an informed approach towards DIY and professional repairs, owners can strike a balance that benefits both their pocketbook and their renters.




    Learn the ROI on property management using our ROI calculator