First Impressions Count: The Top Exterior Maintenance Problems, and How to Fix Them

Prospective tenants for your rental property are more likely to sign on the dotted line if units are well maintained. As a property manager, you understand this, which is why you spend money on new carpeting, repainting walls, and keeping hardwood floors in mint condition.

But the first impression tenants have doesn’t come from the interior of your rental units. The first thing they see is the exterior, and nothing will kill a deal as quickly as driveway potholes, chipping paint, and fallen tree limbs. To make sure the first impression tenants have is a positive one, it’s important to fix these and other exterior maintenance problems.

Here are 7 exterior maintenance issues that need to be addressed so prospective tenants have a positive first impression:


  1. Landscaping : Before anything else, renters will see the condition of your grounds. If they see fallen tree limbs, dead foliage, untrimmed hedges, and weeds, they’ll assume you’re not concerned about caring for your property and that this indifference probably extends to other aspects of property maintenance. Be sure lawns are well maintained and dead branches and tree limbs are removed on a regular basis.
  2. Driveway potholes: Potholes that develop in concrete driveways diminish the appearance of your property. More importantly, they can cause damage to prospective renters’ vehicles, not a good way to start off a landlord/tenant relationship. The good news is that these are relatively easy to repair. All you need is some quick setting cement and a trowel you can pick up at your local hardware store.
  3. Damaged shingles: If renters see damaged or missing roof shingles, they’ll probably be concerned about ceiling leaks and mold infestation, and rightfully so. Take the time to inspect your roof periodically, especially after destructive storms. If you spot shingle damage, deal with it immediately to prevent rainwater from seeping into the interior and causing further damage.
  4. Rain gutters: Rain gutters that are old can begin to bend and sag from buildup of fallen leaves and other debris. When water overflows from your gutters, it can damage the siding and foundation of your house or apartment building. Be sure to clean gutters periodically and to check them for signs of wear. If you spot problems, like holes or sagging, fix them right away to prevent more costly repairs down the road.
  5. Chipping paint: How often you need to repaint house exteriors depends on a number of factors, like where you live. For example, coastal homes need to be repainted more frequently because of their exposure to salt in the air. Your best bet is to regularly inspect the condition of the paint. If you spot chipping, it’s time to repaint. Chipping paint can lead to bigger problems, like wood damage. It also creates a negative first impression for renters.
  6. Windows and doors: Rotting wood and gaps on windows and doors are a red flag for renters that maintenance isn’t a priority for the home or apartment owner. Equally important, gaps allow for water penetration and bigger problems in the future. Make sure windows are properly caulked and that wooden doors are regularly painted or stained to prevent damage from sunlight.
  7. Fences and retaining walls: Fences and retaining walls that are in disrepair are another feature that creates a concern for prospective tenants. Be sure fence posts are secure and that wooden fences are repainted when paint begins to chip. Stone retaining walls that show signs of crumbling need to be repaired immediately.

First impressions, good or bad, tend to endure. If tenants see obvious signs of disrepair in your rental unit’s exterior, they might well conclude that you’ll show the same disregard for their satisfaction and comfort. Fortunately, most exterior repairs are simple and relatively inexpensive. Maintaining the exterior of your property is a smart investment that will pay off in the long run by keeping your rental units occupied.

POSTED April 22 2015 11:26 AM

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