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What Is Deferred Maintenance and How It Affects Your Airbnb

A small house in yellow springs USA

‍This blog explains what deferred maintenance is and how neglecting repairs can wreak havoc on your Airbnb. Discover how it can hurt your ratings, lead to bigger problems, and scare away future guests.

Ever notice that leaky faucet or flickering lightbulb but convince yourself it's a minor annoyance? That's deferred maintenance, and for your Airbnb, it's a ticking time bomb.

We'll explore how deferred maintenance can turn off guests with bad reviews, lead to costly emergencies, and even threaten the safety of your property. Learn how to avoid this silent killer and keep your Airbnb running smoothly, maximizing your income and guest satisfaction.

Understanding Deferred Maintenance

When you own a property that you rent out on Airbnb, you must stay vigilant about maintaining it. However, sometimes, due to various reasons, such as financial constraints, time limitations, or simply oversight, certain maintenance tasks get postponed. This act of postponing is what is termed as 'deferred maintenance.'

Deferred maintenance can encompass a wide array of tasks, from simple upkeep like painting and cleaning gutters to more significant issues such as roof repairs or updating electrical systems. While it might seem convenient to delay these tasks for the future, the practice can lead to a pile-up of issues that become harder to deal with as time goes by.

As an Airbnb host, understanding deferred maintenance is crucial because it directly affects the guest experience and, ultimately, your reviews and bookings. Recognizing the thin line between strategic postponement and neglectful deferral is essential for the longevity and success of your rental property. Remember, your property is an investment, and like any investment, it requires care and attention to maintain its value over time.

Calculating Deferred Maintenance Costs for an Airbnb

Deferred maintenance costs are an important consideration for Airbnb hosts, as they represent the expenses associated with repairs and upkeep that have been postponed. To accurately calculate these costs, follow these steps:

  • Conduct a thorough property inspection: Identify all areas that require maintenance, repairs, or replacements. This includes major systems like HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, as well as cosmetic issues like painting, flooring, and furniture wear and tear.
  • Prioritize maintenance needs: Categorize the identified issues based on urgency and potential impact on guest experience. High-priority items, such as a leaky roof or faulty water heater, should be addressed promptly.
  • Obtain cost estimates: Research the costs associated with each maintenance item by getting quotes from professional contractors or estimating the price of materials and labor if you plan to do the work yourself.
  • Create a maintenance schedule: Develop a timeline for addressing each deferred maintenance item, considering factors like seasonality, booking calendar, and cash flow. This helps spread out the costs over time.
  • Budget for deferred maintenance: Based on the cost estimates and maintenance schedule, allocate a portion of your rental income towards a maintenance reserve fund. A common rule of thumb is to set aside 1-3% of the property value annually.
  • Track and adjust: Keep detailed records of your actual maintenance expenses and regularly compare them to your budget. Adjust your reserve fund contributions as needed based on the property's age, condition, and rental activity.

Example Scenario

Let's consider an Airbnb property that generates $50,000 in annual revenue and has a current market value of $500,000. The host conducts a property inspection and identifies the following deferred maintenance items:

  • Roof repair: $5,000
  • HVAC system replacement: $8,000
  • Painting and minor repairs: $2,000

Total deferred maintenance costs: $15,000

Using the 1-3% rule of thumb, the host should aim to set aside between $5,000 and $15,000 annually for maintenance reserves. In this case, the total deferred maintenance costs fall within that range.

To budget for these expenses, the host could plan to address the painting and minor repairs first, followed by the roof repair and HVAC replacement over the next 2-3 years, while allocating a portion of the rental income each month to the maintenance reserve fund.

The Impact of Deferred Maintenance on Your Airbnb

Deferred maintenance can have a significant impact on your Airbnb's appeal and functionality. First, properties that show signs of wear and tear are less likely to attract guests. When potential guests browse through listings, they look for spaces that are well-cared for and inviting. A property with obvious maintenance issues can quickly turn them off.

Second, even if guests choose to book your property, their experience may be marred by the inconveniences that arise from unattended maintenance issues. For example, a leaky faucet or a malfunctioning air conditioner can lead to negative reviews, which are difficult to bounce back from in the competitive Airbnb market.

Lastly, the longer you delay maintenance, the more costly and extensive the repairs can become. What starts as a small issue can quickly escalate into a major problem, affecting your property's integrity and possibly leading to safety hazards. Regular maintenance is key to preventing these problems and ensuring that your Airbnb remains a top choice for travelers.

Signs of Deferred Maintenance to Look Out for

As an Airbnb host, you should be on the lookout for certain warning signs that indicate deferred maintenance. Peeling paint, for example, is not just an aesthetic issue; it could suggest deeper problems like moisture damage or mold. Similarly, signs of water damage, such as stains on ceilings or walls, can point to leaky roofs or plumbing issues that need immediate attention.

Another red flag is the condition of your appliances and systems. Are the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems functioning properly? Are the fridge, stove, and other appliances working efficiently? If these are showing signs of wear or are not operating optimally, they may require servicing or replacement.

Lastly, consider the exterior of your property. Cracked driveways, overgrown landscaping, and damaged fences are all indicators of deferred maintenance. These not only detract from the curb appeal but can also lead to more significant structural issues if left unchecked. Regular home inspections can help you spot these signs early and address them before they escalate.

The Consequences of Ignoring Deferred Maintenance

Ignoring deferred maintenance can lead to a cascade of negative consequences for your Airbnb property. Structurally, your property may suffer. A small leak left unattended can result in extensive water damage, leading to costly repairs and even structural failure in severe cases. This can result in having to close your Airbnb for an extended period, leading to a loss of income.

From a guest's perspective, the consequences are equally dire. Guests expect a comfortable and trouble-free stay, and unresolved maintenance issues can lead to discomfort or even danger. This can result in negative reviews, which are public and can deter future guests, damaging your reputation and your ability to attract bookings.

Financially, the costs of deferred maintenance can accumulate rapidly. What would have been a minor repair can grow into a major expense, and in the case of critical damages, you may face insurance claims or legal liabilities. The lesson here is clear: proactive maintenance is not just about preserving your property; it's about protecting your investment and your financial well-being.

How to Address Deferred Maintenance Issues

Addressing deferred maintenance requires a proactive approach. Begin by conducting a thorough inspection of your property. Create a checklist of all the areas that need attention and prioritize them based on their urgency and potential impact on guest experience and safety.

Once you have a clear idea of what needs to be done, create a maintenance schedule. Some tasks can be handled immediately, while others can be planned for the off-season when your Airbnb may not be as busy. By scheduling maintenance, you ensure that the property remains in top condition without disrupting your guests' experience.

When budgeting for maintenance, set aside funds specifically for these tasks. This financial planning will help you manage costs effectively and prevent maintenance issues from becoming financial burdens. If certain tasks are beyond your skillset, don't hesitate to hire professionals to ensure the job is done right.

Hiring Professionals for Deferred Maintenance Tasks

There are times when hiring a professional is not just the best choice but the only choice. Complex issues like electrical work, plumbing, or structural repairs require the expertise of licensed professionals. Not only do they have the skills and knowledge to address these issues properly, but they also ensure that the work is in compliance with local regulations and safety standards.

When hiring professionals, it's crucial to do your homework. Look for reputable and experienced contractors, check their references, and ensure they are properly licensed and insured. It's worth investing in quality workmanship as it will pay off in the long run by preventing future problems and ensuring guest safety.

Remember, hiring a professional is not an expense; it's an investment in your property's longevity and your reputation as a host. Quality maintenance work can lead to positive guest experiences, glowing reviews, and increased bookings, all of which contribute to the profitability and success of your Airbnb.

The Cost of Deferred Maintenance and Its Effect on Your Airbnb's Profitability

Deferred maintenance can have a profound effect on your Airbnb's profitability. Initially, deferring maintenance may seem like a cost-saving measure, but the long-term financial implications can be substantial. Minor issues can evolve into major repairs, and the associated costs can quickly spiral out of control, consuming a significant portion of your rental income.

Moreover, the appearance and functionality of your Airbnb are directly tied to your ability to charge competitive rates. Guests are willing to pay more for a well-maintained, aesthetically pleasing space. If your property shows signs of neglect, you may be forced to lower your prices to attract bookings, reducing your overall profitability.

It's also important to consider the opportunity cost of deferred maintenance. Each day your property is unavailable due to extensive repairs is a day of lost income. Regular maintenance can help you avoid these downtime periods and maximize your earning potential throughout the year.

Communicating with Guests about Deferred Maintenance

If maintenance issues arise during a guest's stay, communication is key. Be transparent with your guests about any problems and the steps you are taking to resolve them. Offer solutions or alternatives to minimize their inconvenience, and if the issue is significant, consider compensating them for the disruption to their stay.

Effective communication can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one. Guests appreciate honesty and responsiveness, and by addressing issues promptly and professionally, you demonstrate your commitment to their comfort and satisfaction.

Additionally, keep guests informed about any scheduled maintenance that may affect their stay. Provide them with advance notice and explain the necessity of the work. By keeping them in the loop, you foster a sense of trust and can often avoid misunderstandings or negative feedback.


Deferred maintenance is a critical issue that Airbnb hosts must address to ensure the success and sustainability of their rental properties. By understanding the implications, recognizing the signs, and taking proactive steps to maintain your property, you can avoid the pitfalls that come with neglect.

Remember, a well-maintained Airbnb not only provides a better experience for your guests but also enhances your reputation as a host and maximizes your profitability. Stay vigilant, plan ahead, and your investment will continue to thrive in the competitive world of short-term rentals.


What Is Deferred Maintenance?

Deferred maintenance refers to the postponement of necessary repairs and upkeep on a property. This includes any maintenance tasks that have been delayed to save costs or due to other priorities, resulting in potential deterioration of the property over time.

How Does Deferred Maintenance Affect Airbnb Rentals?

Deferred maintenance can significantly impact Airbnb rentals by leading to negative guest experiences, lower ratings, and potentially higher repair costs in the long run. Properties with visible wear and tear or malfunctioning amenities may deter guests from booking or result in negative reviews, which can harm your rental's competitiveness and profitability.

Can Deferred Maintenance Affect Property Value?

Yes, deferred maintenance can decrease a property's value. Properties that lack proper upkeep tend to appraise at lower values and may take longer to sell. For Airbnb investors, maintaining property value is crucial for long-term investment success and resale potential.

What Can Airbnb Hosts Do to Prevent Deferred Maintenance?

Airbnb hosts should implement a regular maintenance schedule, addressing small issues promptly before they escalate into larger, more costly problems. Investing in ongoing upkeep not only enhances guest satisfaction but also preserves the property's value and performance as a rental investment.

Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it for short term rental.