Charlotte Property Management Blog

How to increase the life of the HVAC system on your rental property

Experienced landlords will all agree that one of the biggest issues when it comes to the repair and maintenance of rental properties is the HVAC system. HVAC repairs are extremely expensive, so in order to avoid considerable costs it is crucial to make sure that the system works properly on a regular basis.

Change the air filters

The most effective way of prolonging the life of the HVAC system on your rental property is to replace the air filters regularly. Why? Sooner or later, all air that circulates inside property will pass through the air filters. Over time, dust, pet hair, pollen, airborne bacteria, and dirt will adhere to the filters and clog them, often with dire consequences for your rental investment:

  • Clogged filters make the HVAC system less effective at cleaning and heating or cooling air, lowering the air quality and unbalancing the temperature in different rooms. These may affect the general quality of life of your tenants and make them decide to move out. 
  • Clogged filters put a strain on your HVAC system. The engine will work harder and harder for the same results and skyrocket the electricity bills, which means that landlords that agree to pay the bills will lose a portion of their rental income.
  • If filters are too clogged, the system will eventually break and you will need several thousand dollars to replace it. 

Change air filters on average once in 3 months

When to change the air filters on your rental property depends on a variety of factors, from the quality of the air filter to how often your HVAC is used. If you choose low quality air filters you should expect to change them once a month, but high quality versions may last up to 6 months at a time. What your tenant does is also important. Do they overuse the HVAC, or have one or more pets? Pet hair and intensive air circulation clog air filters sooner, so expect to change them more often. At Smart Shield Property Management, we find that changing air filters every 3 months is ideal for keeping rental properties HVACs in best shape.

Tenants generally have to change air filters

We have established that air filters need to be changed regularly, but whether you are a DIY landlord or work with a rental property manager, your question now may be the same: who changes the air filters?

Changing the air filters yourself every 3 months or even more often is highly impractical even for DIY landlords. It is extremely hard to align schedules with the tenant, so DIY landlords may want to consider including a line on HVAC air filters and their replacement in their lease with the tenant. 

On our rental properties, we keep the tenant responsible for replacing air filters. On the other hand, tenants are notorious for not being reliable with maintenance and repair work, so how to make sure that air filters are actually replaced?

Make sure air filters are replaced: mail them and check afterwards

At Smart Shield Property Management, we found a way to involve our tenants in changing air filters by partnering with Second Nature, a specialized air filter delivery company. Whenever the time comes to change the air filters, Second Nature mails the right size and number of filters right at the tenant’s doorstep. The package has a date stamped on it to make sure we record the date of the change in our system, and to track the process better. On our end, we call the tenants and check whether they have changed the air filters, and check for the change in our periodical property inspections.

This strategy has a number of benefits for landlords:

  • We maximize the lifespan of the HVAC and increase the time between replacements.
  • We maintain the air quality and temperature in the rental property and make our tenants happy and willing to stay longer.
  • We decrease the number of maintenance and repair tickets by up to 30%, and avoid considerable landlord income loss. 

Want to find out more about how we do it? Watch our discussion with Alexandra from Second Nature to better understand the benefits of air filter delivery!

Credits: Photo courtesy of

Want to be a successful landlord?

Get our tips and tricks about property management and bring your rental business to the next level