Category Archives: Building Maintenance

Spring Maintenance: 4 Common Landlord Concerns


Spring Maintenance: 4 Common Landlord Concerns

| 2015 Apr 02 |

Spring Maintenance: 4 Common Landlord Concerns


When you own property, there’s plenty to worry about. When you own multiple properties, there’s even more to worry about. The spring can be a particularly hard time for landlords: tenants come and go, and there’s always something to clean, repair or renovate.

If this sounds all too familiar, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Here we’ll discuss 4 of the most common landlord concerns when it comes to spring maintenance and how to effectively deal with them.

Mold Busters consulted John Richardson, creator of Landlord Relief Property Management, on the following matters:

  • 1. Tenant turnover
  • 2. HVAC maintenance
  • 3. Outdoor/yard work
  • 4. Leaks, mold


Problem #1: Tenant Turnover

Tenant turnover is a landlord’s biggest cost, says Richardson. Below are 3 ways you pay (in time and/or money) when your tenant takes off:

  • Advertising the unit, finding a new tenant
  • Redecorating the unit (i.e. splashing a fresh coat of paint on the walls)
  • Less rent money (as long as the space is unoccupied)

Treating your tenant like a paying client is the best way to avoid the pitfalls of tenant turnover. Be responsive. Be courteous.



Problem #3: HVAC Maintenance

Spring is an ideal time to inspect and maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems primarily because of the weather. It’s neither too cold nor too hot that tenants will be uncomfortable when you shut down the systems temporarily, explains Richardson.

Skipping HVAC maintenance will lead to poor air circulation and excess moisture, which–with the right temperature and a food source–will trigger mold growth, a problem very difficult and costly to resolve.

By regularly monitoring and maintaining HVAC systems, you’ll keep comfortable living quarters for your tenants, prevent the buildup of indoor air quality pollutants and, in many cases, spot problems before repairs are needed.


Problem #3: Outdoor/ Yard Work

It’s no secret that winter weather is hard on the exterior of a building. Exterior caulking, siding, decks and the roof must be inspected thoroughly and, if necessary, repaired in the spring.

One of the most important tasks is tending to gutters and downspouts, clearing the debris from both and making sure there’s proper drainage.

According to Richardson, landlords are usually responsible for outdoor work involving the house; for example, the aforementioned task of clearing debris. It’s not standard for landlords to take on yard work for small single-family rental units, although they probably will for multi-unit dwellings.

There’s no shortage of outdoor work once the snow melts. Because inspecting and tending to the exterior of a home is crucial for keeping your tenants safe, hire help if you need it.



Problem #4: Leaks, Mold

If there is exterior damage, melted snow or April rain will enter the home–fast. Water damage paves the way for black mold growth and termites, among other problems.

Richardson’s 2 sure-fire ways to prevent moisture intrusion this spring:

  • 1. Inspect and repair the roof
  • 2. Waterproof the foundation–a costly but necessary step

Because it’s not always easy or possible for tenants to spots leaks, annual inspections are important.

If a landlord suspects a mold problem, it must be dealt with immediately. A good time black mold remediation is in between tenants, when the unit is vacant. Of course it doesn’t always work out that way, and still mold must be dealt with immediately.


Staying on top of all your responsibilities as a landlord requires a great deal of time and can be both physically and emotionally taxing. For this reason, Richardson suggests small landlords hire a property manager. This way, their properties and tenants will surely get the attention they deserve.

About John Richardson

John Richardson is a lawyer, educator and real estate investor. He created Toronto-based “Landlord Relief Property Management” to help small investors manage their residential rental properties.

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This has been a guest post, if you have property management information you would like to share, make sure to get in touch.  I especially enjoy sharing stories of personal experiences.

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Mold Remediation

Mold Remediation

This is a guest post from an amazing American Landlord / Property management resource.

American Apartment Owners Association

Liability is always a concern for landlords. Thus, it’s easy to understand why the mention of “mold” and “millions” together would give a property owner nightmares. Not only is indoor exposure to mold known to cause respiratory problems and other health issues in some individuals, but mold is everywhere — and because moisture is critical to its ability to grow to elevated levels, something as simple as a leaky pipe could prove costly.

A web search for “mold lawsuits” reveals horror stories, one about a couple ordered to pay nearly $3 million in damages for selling a California home rife with mold. The same search shows that numerous law firms stand ready to sue property owners on behalf of tenants who believe mold made them sick.

While causation is difficult to prove, you as a landlord have enough to do without being tied up in court. And whether there is litigation or not, a prevalence of mold could lead to tenant loss.

For a landlord, mold remediation can save a host of problems. (Document efforts in case of legal proceedings.)

Mold issues in buildings are a result of water/moisture problems. Mold also needs an organic food source — and many building materials serve that purpose — and high relative humidity. The water source is the easiest factor to control.

As a landlord, the mold problem is not yours alone. Mold can grow in 24 to 48 hours after a water intrusion, so the tenant bears some responsibility for notifying the landlord the mold situation or water leak exists, and for reporting water stains that indicate a leak. Tenants also should use exhaust fans and control humidity. Mold can be hidden in many places, and a landlord generally cannot be held liable unless he or she knew — or should have known — the problem existed.

If the area where mold is growing is small, researching how to clean mold as the landlord and doing the work yourself can save the cost of hiring a mold remediation specialist.

As a landlord, the mold issue is one you must take seriously. Acting quickly and thoroughly can reduce liability risks. The accompanying infographic describes some typical mold situations, steps for mold remediation, and tips to prevent mold.

Mold Remediation Guide For Landlords provided by American Apartment Owners Association.

Landlord by Design, associates and owners, do not take any responsibility for the information in this article written and presented by Straight North internet Marketing and American Apartment Owners Association. You are using the information contained in this post at your own risk.

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How to repair a window screen

How to repair a window screen.

I want to talk about window screen repair.  If you have rental properties, I think you will quickly realize that being able to do window screen repair is a necessary skill.

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I do not know why, however, screens quite commonly get damaged in our properties.

Sometimes it is picked by a cat, or pushed out by a person or dog.  What ever the reason,  we have to be prepared to do some major or minor screen repair, while turning over an apartment.

The great part is that once you know the basics, they are quite easy to repair.  You can pick up the supplies and tool at most building supply stores like Home Depot.

There is an official screen repair tool that basically has a wheel on each end.  It is not 100 percent necessary for small jobs, but is worth the investment of about $6 to put in your tool box.

If the screen is stretched but not torn, you might get away with a bit of trimming and installation of the tubing.

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You see, basically a screen consists of a frame, then the screen is placed on top of the screen, and rubber tubing is squeezed in around the edge to hold the screen in place.

If the screen is torn, you can buy new screen material and cut it to the correct size with scissors or a utility knife.

If the frame is damaged (quite often bent) you can buy replacement parts.

If you are handy and the frame is broken to pieces or the clips are broken, you can build a new one from scratch, however, this does take a lot more skill than just replacing the screen material.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I will end it with some helpful pictures, to describe what I just talked about.

Until next time Design Your Landlord Experience.

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window screen after repair
window screen after repair
Screen repair tool
Screen repair tool
screen repair tool end
Screen repair tool end
screen repair tool
screen repair tool
sample of window screen tubing
sample of window screen tubing
showing where screen tubing is placed
showing where screen tubing is placed


How to use a plunger

Superhero Plunger Man
Plumbing Super Hero


The simple, yet extremly useful plunger

Early on in my property management / landlord career I found a way to minimize service calls from tenants.

I can remember within two weeks of purchasing a six unit building I was called twice by tenants with clogged toilets.

I has able to un-clog the toilets quickly with a plunger.  I also bought a plunger for each unit.

That is when I went on a mission to place a plunger next to every toilet I own.  I make sure to point it out and educate tenants on how to use it, when they move in.  I am amazed at how many people have never used a plunger.

Plungers can be purchased cheap at a dollar store.  Even if you have a lot of units, it is still worth the investment.

You can also use plungers on sink and tub drains.  I would suggest a different one then the one used in your toilets.

Plungers, do not get stuck without one.

Michael P Currie

Book Launch September 22, 2016 Pre-order the Kindle version right here for just $2.00 USD

Bonding over rat poop

Bonding over rat poop



This post is about an experience we had renovating a house that had a previous rat problem.

We bought a 150 year old house to renovate a few years back.  We hired contractors to do the majority of the work.  What we have found over the years, is that it is a good idea to get involved and keep a close eye on your renovation projects.  What this means is that Shelly and I usually end up doing projects that most people do not like doing.

We will often do things like general cleaning, taking out garbage, sorting construction debris, painting trim, taking a part and cleaning light fixtures etc…

My wife Shelly and I consider ourselves lucky to be able to work well together.  When we are working on a project we are always aware that each fixture we clean or garbage bag we fill gets us closer to our life goals.

This particular project was going really well, then it happened.  We had to take on the job of cleaning the cupboards.  To set the stage when we purchased the house the only residents were insects and rodents.  Our plumber had already found a few dead rats while replacing pipes.

That being said what we found in the cupboards was a bit disturbing.  One of the lower cupboards had rat poop stuck to the bottom.  We are no stranger to rat or mouse droppings, they are quite common, but in this case it was smeared on the bottom of the cupboard.

There was only one thing to do, and that was to roll up our sleeves and take action.  We took turns scraping.  We will both admit it was pretty gross (even for seasoned renovators like us).  We managed to scape it all off then we had to sanitise with spray nine and bleach, then sand and paint.

It was a lot of work, however, in the end it all worked out.

Here is the summary of our experience:

1. Rat poop in general is disgusting

2. When you do not really think about what you are doing, it makes a disturbing job a lot easier to do (think about it as chocolate).

3. When you experience something disturbing with your renovating partner, it brings you closer together.  We are not going to seek out another experience like this, however, we do not regret the experience.

4. Shelly and I had a special bond before, now it is even stronger.

Until next time,

Michael P Currie

Book Launch September 22, 2016 pre-order the Kindle version right now for just $2.00 USD


photo credit: <a href=””>formatbrain</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

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