If you rent out a home or several homes, it's important to stay on top of maintenance issues. Some issues are hard to overlook since your renters will notice them and ask you to repair them as they arise. However, roofing problems are often overlooked by landlords because the roof is pretty much out of sight and out of mind. Since roofing issues can quickly lead to thousands of dollars in water damage and require that you relocate your tenants during extensive repairs, it's important to stay on top of roof care and maintenance. Here are four tips to help you do so as a landlord.
Do your own seasonal roof inspections.
You can hire a roofing company to come do an inspection of a roof. However, the primary things they look for are issues you can likely spot yourself, as long as you're willing and able to climb up on the roof. Try to visit each of your rental properties once in the spring and once in the fall. Take a good look at the roof, and note any of the following issues:
- Peeling shingles
- Granules accumulating in the gutters
- Areas where the roof is sagging
- Places where the metal flashing is peeling, rusting, or coming unattached
- Missing shingles or shingles that are missing corners
If you note any of the problems above, then call a roofing contractor. Most of the problems above are pretty easy for them to repair, but if you do not repair them right away, you may be forced to replace the entire roof.
Make sure your residents know to report any roof leaks.
Roofing problems can arise out of nowhere if a storm damages a roof or shingles randomly blow off. Make sure your tenants know to alert you if they notice any signs of a roofing problem, like leaks or shingles in the yard. Remind your tenants of this every once in a while when you see them, or if you own a few properties and send around a newsletter, include a reminder to alert you of roofing problems in that newsletter.
Tenants may avoid telling you about a potential roofing problem because they don't want to complain. It's important that they understand you want to know about these issues and that you won't be angry if they report them.
Choose high-quality roof materials.
It's common for landlords to choose lower-quality materials for a rental property than they would choose for their own homes. The phrase "it's only a rental" gets thrown around a lot. But roofing is not an area where you can afford to skimp on. In fact, since you won't be in the home to monitor the roof as you would in your own home, it's even more important to use high-quality roofing materials in a rental home. Always choose shingles with a long warranty, opt for the thickest flashing your roofing company offers, and hire reputable contractors to do the work. You'll save on repairs in the long run.
Give residents plenty of notice of roofing repairs.
In most areas, you are required to give tenants at least 24 hours' notice before entering their home to make repairs. Since roofers don't typically need to enter the home to perform maintenance, roof repairs don't really fall under this regulation. That does not mean, however, that you should not give your tenants notice that a roofing company will be doing work on the home. Roofing is noisy, and the presence of the roofers may interrupt your residents' schedules. They'll appreciate you telling them about roofing maintenance in advance, and this will make them more likely to tell you about future roofing problems.