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10 Most Common Repairs Landlords Can Fix Themselves

System - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Let’s examine the most common issues that come up at a rental property, and how you can fix them yourself. Yes, it might take a little more time than hiring a professional, but you’ll learn new skills and save thousands of dollars in the long run.


Always be safe, especially if working with power tools or electrical systems. If you’re unsure about what to do, hire a professional the 1st time and ask him/her to explain the repair as it is performed. You’ll see how easy it can be, and next time, you’ll be able to try it yourself.

1. Squeaky Floors

Squeaky floors are a major red flag to people. Most people improperly assume that there are structural problems if there are squeaky floors. In reality, it’s probably just some minor settling.

The Fix: There are two fixes for this. Sprinkle talcum powder between the cracks to see whether that fixes the issue. If it doesn’t, install some supporting braces (2x4s cut for length) underneath the squeaky spots.

2. Replace Caulk Around Tubs and Sinks

Many properties need the caulk replaced around the bathtub. It’s a major turnoff for potential tenants (not to mention extremely disgusting) if you don’t repair it.

The Fix: Buy a special tool at the hardware store for removing caulk. It costs less than $5 and makes your life a lot easier. Be sure to get a caulk gun, and get the special bathroom caulk. This whole process takes less than two hours and can save you several hundred dollars.

3.  Gutter Maintenance

You probably don’t love the idea of gutter cleaning. However, all gutter issues are easy to fix, and you can get all the replacement parts at the hardware store.

The Fix: Put a ladder on solid ground and get to work cleaning the debris out of the gutters so water can flow freely.

4. Stained Bathtub

Stained bathtubs are a major turnoff for potential tenants.

FAIR WARNING: You can try to paint a bathtub, but it usually doesn’t turn out well. And refurbishing a bathtub is usually cost prohibitive.

The Fix: Deep clean the bathtub. Here are two strategies.

  1. Sprinkle Comet everywhere, and let it soak for an hour. Then scrub.
  2. More natural option: Combine cream of tartar and baking soda with lemon juice. Scrub it into the tub, and let sit for an hour. Then wash away.

5. Repair Drywall

Somehow, rentals accumulate random holes in walls.

The Fix: Buy a simple drywall repair kit. Even if you’re no expert, you can probably get good enough results to get the apartment rented.

6. Unclog a Toilet

Toilet problems happen all the time.

The Fix: Have a heavy-duty plunger. If that doesn’t work, you need an auger, like the ones the plumbers use. The job is not fun, but the money you save will make up for it.

7. Fix a Leaky Pipe

There can be several causes of leaky pipes. However, it’s usually from a seal becoming worn out or a fitting becoming loose. Fortunately, these lakes are easy and cheap to fix.

The Fix:

  • Turn off the water.
  • Clean the area where the drip is occurring.
  • Use a putty knife to cover the area with some epoxy.
  • Cover the leak with some rubber.
  • Tighten with a bracket on both sides of the rubber.
  • Allow everything to settle for at least an hour before turning the water back on.

8. Getting the Smoke Smell out of a Property

You should have a clause in your lease that tenants are not allowed to smoke in the property. Hopefully, your tenants actually follow that clause. If not …

The Fix: There is no one single thing that can fix an awful smell. The best thing to do is to replace the flooring and paint the walls and ceiling. You can burn a scented candle while working at the property. And you can set out several large bowls of pure white vinegar, changing the vinegar after a couple of days. Keeping the windows open when the weather permits is also a good idea.

9. Replacing a Roof Shingle

Shingles can be damaged fairly easily from trees or wind, and the entire roof doesn’t need to be replaced.

The Fix: Use a hammer or pry bar to remove the damaged shingle. Remove the nails as well. Slip the new shingle into place. Nail the new shingle into place, and then apply roofing cement under the replaced shingle and the one above it.

10. Unsticking a Wood Window

Sometimes windows don’t open. This is often because they are painted over.

The Fix: Cut through the paint with a sharp knife between the very bottom part of the window and the frame. Use a putty knife to try to pry the window up. If that doesn’t work, try a pry bar. But be careful! You also want to try to unseal anything on the side that might have been painted over and that should move.

Even though hiring someone is much easier, fixing the small things on your own is helpful and can save you money that can be sent on repairs that require a professional.

Ideas by Jimmy Moncrief and