Maintenance expenses are the costs incurred to keep an item in good condition or good working order. When purchasing an item that requires upkeep, consumers should consider the initial price tag as well as the item's ongoing maintenance expenses. Maintenance expenses are major reasons why home ownership can be more costly than renting. In this article, we explore the various maintenance expenses that are likely to occur with renting a property or owning a condominium.

Types of Maintenance Expenses

Maintenance expenses are the costs for upkeep. For automobiles, they include gas, oil changes, engine repairs, and tire replacement. Sometimes items that are merely leased and not owned, such as a leased car, will require the operator to pay maintenance expenses.

Maintenance expenses for homes include lawn care, plumbing, electrical, and roof repairs as well as replacement of worn out appliances. Also, homeowners must pay hazard insurance premiums, which protect the owner from any damage to the home from natural events, including severe storms, fires, tornados, and earthquakes. 

Maintenance Expenses for Leased or Rented Property

Most of the maintenance expenses for a rental are the landlord's responsibility. Snow removal, sewage, trash pickup, lawn care as well as the sidewalks, windows, and any exterior expense falls to the landlord to pay.

If the apartment or rental home is furnished, any replacement or repair of the furniture is the landlord’s responsibility. The cleaning or replacement of carpeting, as well as painting, is also paid by the landlord.

Government regulations require landlords to maintain certain safety and living standards. For example, the heat in an apartment building must meet minimum standards. The infrastructure, such as heating and ventilation, must be adequately maintained by the landlord.

Responsibility for covering some maintenance expenses for rental properties might fall to renters depending on the upkeep in question. The rental agreement should define what expenses are the renter's responsibility. Renters who occupy a beach house for a few days might only be charged for repairs or replacements of any fixtures or appliances that are damaged or destroyed by the renters during their stay. For renters who occupy a home for an extended period, they may be responsible for the regular upkeep of the property.

Key Takeaways

  • Maintenance expenses are necessary costs for upkeep—whether it's a car, home, rental apartment, or condominium.
  • Although a renter might not have to pay for upkeep per se, the fees might be built into the monthly rent.
  • For those buying a condominium, monthly fees are the norm and can range from $50 to $1,000 depending on the property and location.

Renter Beware

It's important that renters compare the types of maintenance and upkeep that are included in the monthly rent payment. Although a renter might not have to pay for upkeep per se, some of the fees might be built into the monthly rent. For example, the rent might be higher for an older building versus a new one since older buildings need more repairs. The rent for an apartment on a large property or in a high-rise building might be higher than the rent for a smaller building or home. In other words, just because renters aren't charged maintenance fees for a property doesn't mean they're not sharing the costs.

Condo Fees

For those looking to buy an apartment or a condominium, monthly fees are the norm. Condo fees can range from $50 to $1,000 depending on the property, building, and location. If the building has a concierge, swimming pool, tennis courts, or gym, those costs are built into the monthly condo fee.

Buyers should consider the monthly fees when calculating their affordability and the potential mortgage payment for the condominium. If, for example, the mortgage payment is $1,500 per month while the condo fee is $600 per month, the condo fee represents nearly 30% of the total monthly payments to live there.

Buyers looking for maintenance-free living, but with a low condo fee, can still find an attractive property. Condo fees in the suburbs are typically lower than those in the cities. As with any financial transaction, if you get something, you have to give up something in return. In other words, if you're looking for a nice property with a low condo fee, you might have to travel outside the city, and the building won't likely be a high-rise or waterfront property.