Whether to repair the roof on your rental, or just repair it, is the question this week for veteran real estate investor, landlord and property manager Hank Rossi.

Dear Landlord Hank,

How do you know for sure when the roof on your rental really needs to be replaced vs. just repaired? Our maintenance funds are tight. The leak does not seem to be that big, but roofers keep estimating and recommending high ticket roof replacement upwards of $10,000.

– Sam

Dear Landlord Sam:

Roof replacements are a huge expense.

Do you know when the roof was replaced last? Are there multiple layers of shingles?

The very common three-tab asphalt shingles last about 20 years.

Look in the attic first

The first place I would look is in your attic for signs of light coming through the roof or staining on the wood from water intrusion.

Then go outside and look at the roof itself.

  • Are the shingles in good condition or are they “cupping” or turning up at the edges?
  • Have the shingles lost their coating in areas?
  • Are they cracked and missing pieces?
  • How about the surface of the roof itself-do you see any dips in the roof?
  • Nails popping up, things growing out of or on your roof?

If you walk on the roof (be very careful), does the roof feel solid or weak and give when you put weight on it?

When the roof is shot shingles get to be like paper

When the roof is really shot the shingles get to be like paper and if you replace one area a leak could start at the edge of the replacement or nearby just from someone walking on it.

If the roofing companies are reliable and they all say it’s time for replacement, it probably is.

Sometimes when you insist and start repairing a roof that is worn out,  you spend a lot of money doing repairs that won’t keep the rain out. And, you waste money.

If your roof is less than 15 years old it may be able to be repaired but sometimes circumstances, like poor ventilation, can shorten roof life.


Hank Rossi

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 Where Do You Draw The Line On Normal Wear And Tear?

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