Archive for the ‘Maintenance’ Category

Watch out for that tree… root!

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Author: Scott Goodman • Scenic West Property Management

Just a reminder for anyone who holds out hope that the City of Los Angeles is fixing that broken sidewalk in front of your property.  They aren’t…  at least not any time soon.  Perhaps in 10 to 20 years, when I last checked with the City of Los Angeles Special Project Division:

Repaired sidewalk which had been broken by tree roots

In fact, money is so tight, that the person who picked up the phone said that the next time I call she may have been replaced by an answering machine.

So why should you care?  We recently fixed the broken sidewalk in front of one of our buildings and just in time. I watched as a tree on our property created a crack across the sidewalk that grew from a small thing into a 2” tectonic face in just over a year’s time. Ironically, once we decided to start getting bids to repair the sidewalk (a 30’ x 5’ sidewalk cost us $2,500) at least two people tripped on the sidewalk, one of which demanded that I pay for her emergency room visit.  Don’t wait for the City to fix a tripping hazard.  At the very least you may be able to grind down that crack and avoid writing a check for the emergency room visit.

Emergency Response Plan

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Author: Scott Goodman • Scenic West Property Management

Ask yourself this:  Do you or your resident manager know two ways in which to shut off the water to your building? Is there a shut down procedure in place to avoid damaging the boiler or other equipment? Do you know how to open your garage gates in the event of a power failure?  Where is the gas shut off to the building? Many buildings have more than one location. Do you know how to make a reasonable attempt to fix a stuck elevator?  Where do you go to shut off the power to the whole building? What about an individual unit?  What do you or your resident managers do if the fire alarm goes off, or in the event of an actual fire? A lot of questions with big implications come up in a crisis moment.  A little time spent preparing and answering these questions can be a big money saver when the time comes… and inevitably it will come.

Emergency manual photosWe have an emergency response plan for every property we manage. We start by taking pictures of the alarm panels, shut off valves, and any other control panels, and put these pictures in a binder. Pictures are inexpensive and easy with today’s digital technology. We then label each picture, and include clear, step-by-step instructions on the operation of each element. The idea is to create an emergency manual. It is amazing how well this information translates to effective action in a time of crisis.  This manual is also a good place to put notes concerning emergency supplies and equipment you may have around the building.  A prudent move for anyone living in earthquake country.  Have an Emergency Response Plan – you will sleep better at night.

Periodic maintenance… periodic inspection of the premises

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Author: Scott Goodman •

Hoarders and packrats – every building has one or two to a varying degree.  Unfortunately, even the most thorough tenant background screening may miss such things as untidiness. Tenants can inflict a lot of damage to a unit when they set their minds to it.  The trick is to spot the problems early on and take prescriptive measures to limit the damage. But given the fact that most landlords only perform two inspections – once at move-in and then the final inspection at move-out – how do you gain access to a tenant’s unit when you suspect something has gone astray?

I recently had a tenant who turned out to be a hoarder with garbage and belongings covering every square foot of available floor space in his unit.  I could see through the windows that something terrible was going on, but how could I prove it when this tenant always demanded formal notice to gain admittance to his unit? Although a standard lease agreement does provide for such things as landlord inspection of the premises, such scrutiny may put tenants at odds.

This is where periodic maintenance of such things as AC filter changes, smoke detector testing, and the occasional plumbing leak can be an invaluable resource.  Never miss an opportunity to perform a general evaluation of the premises when called upon to perform routine maintenance for the unit.   In the case of our hoarder, a quick check of our records indicated that his smoke detectors were almost due for their periodic inspection. So we moved up the date a little and served the tenant a Notice to Enter the Premises for the purpose of testing the smoke detectors. Just as we suspected, we could not even get to the bedroom to check the smoke detector because there was so much garbage blocking our way.  A 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit was served and as luck would have it the tenant has complied for the time being by cleaning up his unit.  Keep to a periodic maintenance schedule and you will find that it gives you the opportunity to fix more than just the leaks.