As a landlord in San Francisco, you are probably already aware of all the time, effort, and money it takes to rent out your property to tenants. Beyond the basic legal requirements of “implied warranty of habitability” that exists in California, regular, preventive apartment maintenance costs and tenant turnover can also quickly eat into your rental business’ profitability.
If you’re not already aware or need a refresher, let’s take a look at some of the specific laws relating to renting a property in San Francisco and map out some of the costs involved in regular apartment maintenance. Depending on how much of your own time and effort you’re willing to invest in your property, it may be well worth it for you to look for a reputable rental property management company in San Francisco that can handle all of the legal requirements, leasing, and repairs.
Implied Warranty of Habitability
Even though it may not be written into housing laws, most states have accepted the concept of an “implied warranty of habitability.” This means that the landlord, at the initial time of leasing to a renter, must provide at least a basic habitable home for the renter to live in, and must maintain a minimum level of habitability throughout the term of the rental agreement.
The state of California lays out the specific areas that must be provided and maintained in order to meet the implied warranty of habitability
- Basic infrastructures such as roofing, exterior walls, waterproofing, and unbroken windows and doors
- Gas, electricity, heating, and plumbing with both hot and cold running water
- Trash disposal with an adequate number of garbage bins for the number of residents living in the property
- A locking mail receptacle for each unit in the property
- Clean floors, hallways, and building grounds
If any of these are not kept in good repair while the property is rented out, California tenants may have legal recourse to withhold rent, sue the landlord, or move out without providing notice.
Obviously, as long as you maintain your property, you should not have to worry about the condition of your property getting to this point. However, regular apartment maintenance can quickly become a major investment of time and money. Without accounting for the value of your own time, let’s look at some common maintenance issues.
Common Maintenance Costs
According to HomeAdvisor, the national average for interior painting is $3.50 per square foot, which means that even a 500-square-foot San Francisco apartment would cost $1,750. Given that San Francisco is a more expensive market, you can expect that number to be even higher depending on the size of your property and its location.
The national average for general appliance repair comes in at $171. A refrigerator repair can cost between $200 to $330 on average, a washing machine can average $100 to $350, and a dryer repair can cost $180. These are just a few of the major appliances that might need repair in your rental property, and while it is unlikely you would need to repair all of them at once, they certainly add up over time.
Looking to rekey your property either due to lost keys or tenant turnover can average about $75 per hour depending on what types of locks you need to be serviced. You may also need to pay a trip fee of $50 to $100 to have the locksmith come to you. In San Francisco, the cost of a locksmith can average $202 each time you require their services.
Looking at the cost of deep cleaning when a tenant moves out can cost on average between $125 and $180. That will vary depending on the size of the property and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need cleaned.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
To ensure that your renters are safe, you will need to provide smoke detectors, which can cost $40 for a 3-pack from Home Depot, and a single carbon monoxide detector will be $20. If you have multiple units you rent out, or you need to replace these regularly, you will need to budget for these costs as well.
Budgeting for Property Maintenance
After looking at the costs of apartment maintenance, the question then becomes, how much should you budget to keep your property livable and attractive to new renters? While they might not seem like much for just one-time occurrences, common maintenance costs can quickly add up each time you need to do them, especially if you are renting a property with multiple units. Here’s a quick annual budget using some of the expenses we estimated above:
- Repaint a 500 square foot apartment – $1,750
- Repair the dryer – $180
- Rekey – $202
- Clean – $180
- Provide smoke detectors – $40
If you needed to do each of those things once a year, it would cost you about $2,350, and that doesn’t account for other expenses you might have not included in that list.
That is just one way to estimate your annual apartment maintenance expenses, but if you are just starting out in property rental, you should know that there is no real estate industry standard for how much you should budget.
However, there are a few simple methods that you can use as starting guidelines to see which works best for you:
- 1.5 times the monthly rental rate – According to Zumper’s National Rent Report for July 2020, the median cost for a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was $3,280. If you use the 1.5x method of budgeting, you should budget $4,920 per year for repairs.
- 1% of the annual property value – If your rental property’s value is $500,000, start by budgeting $5,000.
- $1 per square foot – Budget $1 for each square foot of the property. This may be a bit skewed in San Francisco since it can be very common to have small spaces that are valued much higher in the rental market, which could then lead you to not budget enough.
Automate Your Apartment Maintenance Costs
If the time, effort, and cost of maintaining your rental property yourself don’t seem worth the hassle to you anymore, it might be time to look for a property management company to handle it all for you.
Poplar Homes is a complete property management solution located in cities all along the West Coast that can help you simplify your rental business while saving you money. Poplar 360 is our all-inclusive property management service that helps you manage, maintain, and even improve your property. Here are just a few of the features that we offer through Poplar 360:
- Free annual home warranty plan that covers over 21 home systems and appliances.
- $3,000 in annual Maintenance Credit that can be used for services such as day-to-day maintenance and cleanings.
- Up to $1,000 in Capital Improvement Credit each year, depending on how much you spend on maintenance in the prior year.
With Poplar 360’s pricing for 1 year, you can expect to pay about $4,526 for Poplar Homes. Using the 1.5x rule of budgeting, we had said you would potentially need to budget $4,920 for a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco. That means that by simply signing up for Poplar 360, you can save yourself the headaches of property management and almost $400.