Brief vacancies can serve a purpose for your Killeen rental property. If you have a few days of turnover between tenants, you can use that time to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and do a complete inspection so you can document the condition of the home. You can make some of the upgrades you’ve been planning and spruce up the landscaping.
It’s easier to take new marketing photos when the home is vacant, empty, and clean.
But, you don’t want vacancies that last any longer than what it takes to prepare a home for a new resident. The rental income you lose while your property is vacant is money you’ll never earn back.
That’s not the only danger to an extended vacancy.
When your rental property is vacant, you don’t have any rental income, and you don’t have tenants in place to raise the flag on maintenance issues and repair needs. Vacancies are expensive, and they could invite unwanted attention to your property. As a landlord and rental property owner, you should avoid long vacancy periods whenever possible.
Here are the top 3 dangers of a vacant rental property in Killeen, Texas. We’re also sharing some ways to avoid these long vacancies.
1. Stress and Loss of Rental Income
Vacancies are stressful, especially when you have a mortgage payment coming up and no rental income to help you pay it.
The stress can easily spiral, too. What if you never find a tenant for your property? What if the rental price is too high? What if you can’t afford to lower it?
If you’re like most property owners dealing with a vacancy, you’re going to worry about squatters and the money you’re not making. You’ll worry about the maintenance that may or may not be needed (how do you know? No one’s living there!).
You invest a lot of time and money into your rental property. When it’s vacant and vulnerable, you’re naturally going to worry.
Losing sleep over a vacant rental home is a huge danger, and the thing that keeps you up the most is likely the loss of rental income.
With no rent coming in, you’re losing money on your investment property. The success of your investment depends on consistent rental income. Any gaps in income will be difficult to make up.
The expenses continue to grow, and they go beyond the lack of rent. Not only are you not receiving a rental payment, you’re paying out of pocket for things like:
- Keeping the utilities on
- Pest control
The list goes on.
Save your mental health from stress and keep your rental income consistent by reducing turnover. When you can keep a great tenant in place, you have less to worry about. There are fewer turnover expenses, no vacancy, and no missed rental payments.
In addition to retention, you can focus on strategic marketing that will attract high quality tenants to your home quickly. You can make sure it’s priced competitively for the market, and you can ensure its condition is such that prospective tenants will find it welcoming and attractive.
2. Vandalism and Theft in Vacant Killeen Rentals
A vacant rental home in Killeen will attract the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people.
With an empty residence, you could potentially face vandalism issues and even theft.
Windows could be broken from the outside. You might walk into your property after it’s been vacant for a week or more and find that things have been stolen. We have heard of thieves taking off with light bulbs, appliances, copper piping, water heaters, and air conditioning units.
Maybe your Killeen property is in a good area and it seems impossible that this could happen.
If the house is dark and empty and thieves sense an opportunity, anything is possible.
Vandalism is more a crime of recreation and while cleaning up graffiti is a nuisance and an expense, there are far worse crimes that can occur at your empty property. A little graffiti will be a problem, and it’s certainly a danger associated with vacancy, but your real concern should be theft. You don’t want to find heavy damage and you don’t want to find missing refrigerators and dishwashers.
Some insurance companies will be nervous about a home that’s vacant for too long. Check your policy, because you may need additional coverage if your home is empty for 30 days or more.
How can you keep your vacant property safe during these periods? Here are a few recommendations:
- Consider installing security cameras so you can keep an eye on the property. If a crime does occur, you’ll have a record of who committed it, and local law enforcement will hopefully locate those who are responsible. Sometimes, just having security protocols in place will deter a vandal or a thief. Install a ring camera or something that records people approaching the home.
- Make sure there’s adequate lighting outside and even inside the home. Set a porch light to a timer and have a lamp inside the house come on every night so it doesn’t look like the home is completely empty. Dark houses are especially vulnerable to thieves.
- Show up for an inspection every week or so. This will give you an opportunity to make sure there aren’t any squatters, broken windows, or missing appliances and systems.
Vandalism, theft, and even squatting can be a huge concern for rental property owners when there’s a long vacancy. Keep an eye on your property or work with a local Killeen property manager who can protect your investment from these situations.
3. Unused Appliances and Deferred Maintenance
Another danger associated with vacant rental homes is property damage due to neglect. Deferred maintenance is always dangerous because it’s expensive and time-consuming. But with a vacant rental home, the risk goes up. There could be a flood or a fire at your property, and no one will know it right away because no one is living there.
It doesn’t even have to be something as dramatic as a fire to cause real loss. It doesn’t have to be a flood. A simple drip under a bathroom sink can cause thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs. It can also lead to rot and mold, causing remediation costs.
No one is checking under the sinks for slow leaks, so this type of maintenance issue is difficult to prevent in a vacant home.
Responding to maintenance issues can be complicated and time consuming, but when a tenant is in place, you have someone who can notice and report those issues as soon as they occur. This cuts down on the risks that come with deferred maintenance.
With no one living in your rental property, you won’t notice that the outlets have stopped working in two of the three bedrooms. You won’t know that the heat or the air conditioning isn’t working, and there will be no one to complain that the toilets are not flushing.
Keeping your investment well-maintained is an important part of earning money on it. When small problems are overlooked or unnoticed, they become larger problems, and often more expensive problems. This is a major risk to vacant rental homes.
You can’t fix problems that you aren’t aware of.
Appliances are also likely to suffer when they’re not being used regularly.
Dishwashers that sit unused for prolonged periods will develop motor issues, problems with the pipes, and potentially a broken machine. Your dishwasher’s motor seals will often dry out first, leading to bigger issues with its ability to run or even pump water.
Unplug any appliances that aren’t being used in your vacant home to protect against power surges. Unless you have a whole-home surge protection system or individual surge protectors all over your house, some of your plugged-in appliances are potentially vulnerable to surge damage.
Texas has some pretty dramatic thunderstorms, but you don’t even need a huge lightning strike or a local transformer explosion to damage your appliances. Small surges occur commonly when other large appliances in your home turn on, such as your air conditioner or the compressor on your fridge. Over a long enough period of time, these small surges can gradually wear away at other appliances on the same circuit, shortening their useful lifespans.
Unplug your appliances when your home is vacant. It will lower your energy bill. And, although the risk of electrical fire is probably pretty minor when your appliances are in good working condition, the only way to completely eliminate that risk is to keep them unplugged.
These are the three major dangers to a vacant rental property in Killeen. If you’d like to talk more about how to protect your investment during a vacancy or how to avoid a vacancy entirely, please contact us at Shine Residential Management.
A property management company based in Harker Heights, Shine Residential Management cares for exceptional single-family homes throughout Central Texas, including in Killeen, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Salado, and Georgetown.