Whether you’re a landlord with a single property or a property manager with a large portfolio, it’s vital to keep your properties in good condition. Besides it being in your own interest to prevent them from diminishing in value, failing to do so could be considered as a breach of your obligations to your tenants.
Here are a few things to bear in mind about maintaining your properties.
Preparation Is Essential
When starting a new tenancy, it’s important to ensure that all repairs and maintenance are up to date before the tenant moves in. Then make a detailed inventory of each room, including photos or video, before handing over the keys.
The tenant will normally be responsible for minor maintenance (cleaning, tidying, changing lightbulbs etc.) but any substantial issues are the responsibility of the landlord. This means you’ll need to be able to afford any reasonable expense that might arise. It’s a good idea to set aside up to three months’ rent in a reserve account for emergencies.
Inspecting the Property
It’s vital to arrange with the tenant for an absolute minimum of one inspection of the property each year. Besides checking that the place is being kept in good condition, it gives the tenant the opportunity to report any non-urgent issues.
As well as the interior of the property, it’s also essential to frequently inspect the outside for any issues that could cause deterioration. This includes regularly checking the gutters and downpipes, to ensure they’re not blocked or cracked, as well as making sure the doors and windows remain in good condition.
A number of safety inspections are legally mandated. These include gas safety and smoke alarms, as well as carbon monoxide alarms in rooms with solid fuel burners. It’s your responsibility, too, to ensure that tenants understand their obligations to test the alarms regularly.
Tips for Easy Maintenance
While you need to be ready for essential expenditure on maintenance for your properties, you obviously want to avoid unnecessary costs. One tip, if you own or manage several properties, is to use the same materials for them all — for example, for flooring or paint. Make the materials as durable as possible, too. Laminate, hardwood, vinyl and linoleum are all preferable to carpet as flooring materials, for instance.
The same principles apply to the landscaping of the outside areas. Since you don’t know how much time the tenants will put into gardening, make sure the gardens can be kept in good condition with minimal input.
It’s advisable, if at all possible, to keep up a good relationship with all your tenants, and meeting your maintenance obligations should help with this — but occasionally things break down. Give me a call if you need help chasing overdue rents from your tenants.