Landlords need to keep their properties in shape, not only in order to satisfy their tenants but also in order to avoid potentially expensive disasters.
But it can be difficult to know where to start. Looking for top rental property maintenance tips? Read on…
1. DIY or management?
There’s an important first choice to be made when thinking about rental property maintenance: do you entrust it to an agent, or do you go it alone?
Both have potential upsides – you might be able to save some money by going the DIY route, but if you hire an agent to do it for you, you could save your own valuable time.
To a great degree, your choice is determined by the quality of the agents you can choose from. Where possible, choose an agent based on personal recommendations. There have been endemic problems in the rental agency world for some time, including, for example, the problem of double-charging, in which both landlord and tenant are charged for the same work. Shop around, and trust your instincts.
2. Make checks before tenancies begin
In order to avoid disputes about the state of the property when tenants are moving out, make sure that you thoroughly check it over before a tenancy begins. Often, landlords think that the inventory suffices here, but in fact you need to give the property a proper once over, especially at the end of longer tenancies.
With a bit of effort now, you can avoid drawn out and potentially expensive disagreements at a later date.
3. Arrange inspections
As well as checks at the beginning and end of a tenancy, you should arrange to make inspections of the property at regular intervals. By keeping an eye on problems as they arise, you can make sure you head them off quickly. Remember, though, that you need to write these inspections into the tenancy agreement, including the amount of notice you will provide before arriving.
4. Educate tenants
Before a new tenant arrives, make sure that you provide them with an information pack that sets out the basic things they should do in order to prevent damage to the property. For example, make sure that they know where the stopcock is, and that they know to air the property regularly and ensure that it is kept properly heated in colder months in order to minimise mould. Many tenants, especially those who have recently begun renting, are not aware of the simple things they need to do in order to keep the property running, but you can avoid problems by making sure that you educate them from the outset.
5. Early intervention saves money
Don’t ignore problems – they will only get worse. If a tenant reports a fault, or if you notice one during an inspection, make sure that you fix it immediately. A simple problem like a blocked gutter, if left unattended to, can quickly grow into a potentially expensive disaster. Make sure that you pay particular attention to the property during the winter months, as this is the time during which many of the most damaging problems can arise.
6. Know the fire safety laws
Fire is one of the major risks facing your property. In October 2015, new, more stringent legal obligations relating to fire safety were placed on landlords. For flats or houses in single family occupation, all properties must now have a long-life or mains-powered smoke alarm system throughout, along with a carbon monoxide alarm in all high-risk rooms. The requirements are more demanding for HMOs.
You should also conduct a fire risk assessment for each of your properties. Best practice dictates that you should keep a written copy of this assessment for future reference.
For a quick-start guide to landlord fire safety regulations in the UK, check out our dedicated article.
7. Find the right contractors
Finally, it’s worth remembering that you probably won’t be able to conduct all the maintenance yourself, especially when it comes to electrical systems and plumbing. This means that you need to find the right contractors. Shop around and, as with agents, try to make a decision based in part on personal recommendation.
You should also try to build relationships. You might well be able to get a better deal by sticking with the same contractors over time, especially if you have multiple properties.
Have we missed any? Let us know your tips below.