Whether you are a first time landlord or an experienced property manager, it is important to be proactive when dealing with maintenance issues at your rental property. There are various things you can do to keep your property in a good state of repair and help to avoid issues with your tenants, and your property, as well as saving money in the long run.
Build a healthy reserve account
Part of property management is keeping your property in the best possible condition. You need to dedicate time and be willing to pay for maintenance costs. It is a good idea to set aside a budget amount each month in a reserve account. Good practice is to set aside three months’ rent to cover wear and tear and emergencies, plus void periods.
Remember that older properties generally require more maintenance, so less work will be needed on a newer property due to less maintenance issues.
Starting a new tenancy
Firstly, you should make any necessary repairs to the interior, exterior or it’s fixtures and fittings before you rent a property. Before a new tenant moves in, document the condition of each room. Take photos or videos and make a list of each room. Read more in our blog The importance of property inventories.
Make sure that the tenants know how to operate all the appliances and equipment. Make sure you outline what responsibilities you and the tenant have in the tenancy agreement.
Generally, a tenant must take care of regular upkeep such as removing trash, changing light bulbs, and minor maintenance issues. Make sure that your tenants are aware of how to contact you if issues arise. For details of what to include in the tenancy agreement see our blog post: Why do you need a residential tenancy agreement.
Check the property thoroughly at least once a year during each tenancy to ensure that it is being kept in good condition. Examine the property at an agreed date and time and start any necessary repairs or updates as soon as possible. Read more in Why are regular property inspections important.
With long term tenants, it really pays for a landlord to keep the property in good condition, because then the tenants will do the same. Regular property inspections are important to prevent problems from occurring that can lead to costly repairs and possible compensation claims.
This is especially important if you have long term tenants as in some cases, they will not tell you about problems until after they leave the property. View our What you should look out for during a property inspection for full information on what the inspection should cover.
Carrying out repairs
If you need to carry out repairs, or updates, try to get them done as quickly as possible with minimum inconvenience to your tenants. It is better to have a job done well than to rush the job and end up with the same problem in a few months’ time.
Being a landlord can be costly, and if you have not got the right cover, you will have to pay large bills if anything goes wrong. Read more about Landlord Insurance in our blog.
It is not only important to inspect the inside of your property, but the outside is equally as important. At the annual property inspection, make sure you take time to thoroughly inspect the exterior and outside areas too. Or more regularly, such as every quarter, at the changing of each season if you can.
This is especially important in the run up to winter. Check gutters and downpipes are free from leaves etc and are in good condition so water is being carried away from the property in the way it should. Look for any loose pointing or missing roof tiles or gaps in the brickwork – basically anywhere water could penetrate to keep the property is watertight.
Make sure that windows and doors are not broken or faulty, as extreme cold in winter storms can cause draughts. These checks can also ensure that you have enough security measures fitted to avoid burglar attempts which will damage your property.
Develop mutually beneficial relationships
Whether you do the work yourself, hire professional contractors or combine the two, managing the general maintenance of your rental property is an important part of being a good landlord. Make sure all the contractors you hire are qualified to carry out the work and belong to a relevant association or trade body.
You are likely to need certain tradespeople when renting so it is a good maintenance tip for landlords to keep on hand the ones that do the best work. Always keep your professional relationships productive and friendly. You should also try to build up a few contacts to ensure you have someone to turn to if your regular person is unavailable.
Low maintenance landscaping
Outside areas of your property should be kept as low maintenance as possible to ensure that they are easily looked after all year round. Even if your tenants are keen gardeners, the next ones might not be. Providing a lawnmower and any other gardening tools will make it easier for the tenant to maintain the garden but as a landlord you are not obliged to provide these.
Keep everything durable and uniform
Whether you are managing several rental properties or just one, it is a good maintenance tip for landlords to use the same hardware, flooring, paint and appliances across all rooms in all properties. This will save you time and effort and avoid any confusion.
The best flooring for rental properties is made of durable materials. Laminate, hardwood, vinyl and linoleum are all advisable. Carpet is best avoided if possible. Choose paint colours in neutral shades of white, grey, and beige. These colours are warm and versatile, easily cleaned, and hide the imperfections on the walls.
Fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are non-negotiable for health and safety purposes.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that smoke alarms are equipped on each storey of the premises on which there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. A smoke and carbon monoxide alarm must be equipped in any room of the premises which contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.
Checks must be made by or on behalf of the landlord to ensure that each prescribed alarm is in proper working order on the day each new tenancy begins. Tenants must be informed that they must regularly check that all alarms are in working order.
A maintenance tip for landlords that gets overlooked is to remember to check all alarms during your annual inspection. Read more information in our blog Do you need smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at your rental property?
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