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Home ยป 5 Tips:Should I Handle Rental House Repairs Myself?

5 Tips:Should I Handle Rental House Repairs Myself?

If you own rental properties long enough, repairs will inevitably be needed. Many first-time landlords face the dilemma of whether to handle rental house repairs themselves or spend money on a professional. I am an actual landlord with over a decade of experience and over 70 rental properties, and I have faced that predicament numerous times. I have figured out the answer by trial and error, examining my data, and doing extensive research. I will share that answer with you, and I will explain the reasoning behind it.

Should you do the maintenance and repairs at your rental property? No. You should not do rental property repairs yourself. Leave the maintenance work to professionals, even if you are very handy. You should not do this work yourself for countless reasons, even if you are a professional contractor.

I purchased my first three rental properties in 2007 with a partner. My partner is quite a craftsman, an electrical engineer who can build anything and even make furniture. Before closing, we were hyped about how much money we would save doing the work ourselves. Doing the work ourselves took up all of our free time and caused strains on our relationships. We frequently went over budget because we did unnecessary work and didn’t stick to contractor-grade materials, as if we were fixing up our homes. The workload was taxing and strained our friendship. After those three houses, my partner never bought another rental, while I have purchased over 70 more and never lifted another hammer. This article will explain why it’s always best to hire someone to do the maintenance at your rental properties.

1. Are you able to do the work?

Many people are handy around the house but are not suited for professional repairs. When doing maintenance in your home, it’s okay to make several trips to home depot for supplies, but when you are in someone else’s home, you need to be in and out quickly. Professional contractors have done these jobs hundreds of times and know most things that can pop up. They are prepared with the tools and materials to handle the job and tackle all but the most unusual surprises. Let a professional handle the work, and spend your time doing something you enjoy. If you are a professional contractor, you should still not do repairs at your rental houses; read on to learn why.

2. Tenants will take advantage of you

Should I handle rental house repairs myself? No. You will be taken advantage of.
Unrelated work requests

Working at a tenant’s home gives them time to get to know you, and you never want to become friends with your tenants. It is vital that you keep the landlord-tenant relationship on a professional level. After you hang out with a tenant for several hours or days, they get familiar with you, which makes it easier for them to ask for special favors such as a rent payment extension. Frequently, you give in and give them something they would never have asked for if you didn’t get to know them while replacing a light fixture. On the other hand, if you stand firm and turn down their request, this often leads to an awkward experience the next time you stop by to repair something.

When doing repairs yourself, the extra facetime with the tenant will often lead to them asking you to do other work. You are there already, and you are so good at this that they ask you to fix their child’s bicycle chain. Or they ask you to help bring in their new washing machine. Sometimes, it’s a trivial repair, like a loose doorknob, that they would never call about: but since you are here…. A professional contractor knows how to handle these things. Usually, the tenant will not ask them; when they do, they can tell them they are only authorized to do specific work. You, as the landlord, should restrict your interaction with the tenant to only the landlord’s duties; don’t go to the house unless you absolutely have to.

3. Building a network

At some point, you may not be able to do an emergency repair yourself, and you don’t know who to call, so hiring a contractor for routine maintenance before the emergency allows you to meet a variety of craftsmen. Throughout your real estate investing career, you will need unskilled laborers to handle mundane tasks, midlevel contractors to replace light fixtures, and professionals to service your HVAC unit. Knowing several workers in each category would be best, so you have multiple options. Start meeting these people early and build a network of reliable workers.

4. You Will Burn Out

Should I handle rental house repairs myself? No. You will burn out.

You are probably saying, “not me,” but you will eventually burn out if you do it long enough. It happened to my investing partner I mentioned above, and it’s happened to countless other real estate investors. You may love this type of work, but when it comes at an inconvenient time, and it happens repeatedly, you will begin to dread it. In addition, the problems mentioned above will also add to your stress level, and you will likely abandon rental property investing as my first partner did. Hire contractors and remove complications from your life.

5. You will not be able to scale

Scaling your rental property business means growing that business by adding many properties over time. To expand the business, you must remove the roadblocks, and you will be a significant roadblock if all the maintenance work goes through you. It may be okay to work one call a month, but you cannot keep up when you get multiple calls each day and have a vacant property to get ready. Your vacancies will increase, your tenants will be unhappy, and your life will be stressful. On top of this, you have curtailed your ability to add more properties.

Many landlords start by doing the work themselves, intending to hire contractors when they outgrow their ability. This is not a good approach because you end up evaluating contractors in a crunch when you have more work than you can handle. Using the contractors all along is best, and then you simply make a phone call as you scale your business. Hopefully, you can rise to the point that you have an employee making that phone call for you. If you don’t handle rental house repairs yourself, your life will be easier. The easier you make the process, the greater your likelihood of success.

To Sum It Up

There is no reason that you should handle rental house repairs yourself. If you have enough free time, you should find more rental houses or do something you enjoy. If you enjoy this kind of work, remodel your home or take up woodworking. If you are forced to do this work to save money, you paid too much for the rental house. Remember the number 1 rule of investing in rental property: never pay too much for a rental house.


  • Real Estate Adventurer

    Don has been a real estate investor for over 15 years. He has accumulated over 70 rental properties and completed many house flips. Don currently owns a property management company and acts as a hard money lender. He writes on real estate investment, often divulging financial details, with a direct, no-nonsense style. In addition, Don is a software consultant and an accomplished software developer with a Mater's degree in Computer Science.