Property Management - Maintenance Costs That Save You Money in the Long Run
Many landlords will groan when they hear the words, ‘property maintenance’. It’s an inevitable part of owning a home. It can be costly, annoying, and it never really ends. So there can be a temptation to avoid doing maintenance.
But keeping up your property maintenance will save you money in the long run.
Whether it’s your investment home or the property you live in, it’s important to take care of it. Not just for your own peace of mind either. Good maintenance will keep your home in the highest quality, and whether you are renting or selling - maintenance adds value to your property.
True to the cliché ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, some upkeep work is vital to prevent an even larger shock later in the future. We often get asked about it. So we went ahead and prepared a list of maintenance jobs that will actually save you money if you do them regularly.
There is a fine balance in the responsibilities for pest control between tenant and landlord. The tenant must keep the property clean and do what they can to minimise pest build up, however the landlord has a vested interest in getting the property checked over at least once a year by a professional. Property management agencies will have a standing appointment with exterminators for every house they oversee. That’s how important it is!
By showing your tenant that you are meeting them halfway with long-lasting pest control prevention, it keeps your tenants happy and encourages them to stay longer. But the greater issue is that it also saves you money by helping you to spot termites early. As one out every three properties in Australia will succumb to termite damage at some point, checking against termite invasion every year saves money in the long run.
Other rodents that can damage wiring or live in ceiling cavities can also be proofed against; ensuring that prevention helps safeguard against all sorts of minor damage with a little simple maintenance inspection.
Clearing Gutters and Drains
This type of work is easy to forget. The gutters are out of sight, out of mind – it happens. But South East Queensland is prone to sudden heavy storms. The last thing you want is a lot of water that’s stuck on your roof without a way down. Too much weight up there can rapidly grow from a little leak to an expensive problem.
Someone has to clean those gutters.
Now sometimes the tenants will take on this responsibility for you, but don’t rely on them to safeguard your investment. Either way, just make sure you’ve checked with your property manager so you can be certain it’s getting done by someone.
The benefit to having your gutters cleaning and checked? As property ages, it settles - its one of those ‘facts of life’ that we must live with. While cleaning the gutters, your handyman should also be inspecting them for their fall. Gutter fall is the way that gutters slant slightly towards downpipes to make sure they drain properly. Ensuring that the fall in your gutters is still appropriate ensures no water will be ‘stuck’ up there, degrading the guttering and making the issue grow worse.
Air Conditioning Service
Brisbane is one hot city! And with summer around the corner, it’s only getting hotter. So make sure your air-con is in peak condition. No one wants their air-con to break down suddenly on a day that’s over 30 degrees.
An air-con needs a regular check every 12 months. This is another type of service you’re your tenants could perform, but its much better to seek out qualified care. Some of the items that a technician can diagnose or prevent include cleaning filters, ensuring that the condensate drains aren’t blocked and making sure all the moving parts are moving and all the stationary parts are staying stationary. Air-conditioners are mighty harbingers of mould and an annual check allows this mould to be fought back.
Air-con replacement can be costly, especially for larger homes that may have many units or a large ducted system. An annual service will improve the operating capacity and extend the life of each of your AC units.
Pools in Queensland are a fantastic way of coping with heat and a big drawcard for tenants. A good pool will add to the value of your investment.
But a dirty pool will create thick smears of green algae, damage your pool filtering equipment (that clearly isn’t running), and create an eyesore for neighbours and damage property value.
This is another situation where cleaning is sometimes expected completed by tenants, and sometimes expected as the responsibility of the landlord. It’s important to have this discussion and have it clearly marked on your lease agreement who will be responsible for the cleaning of the pool.
As landlord you needed to consider your obligation for the upkeep of the equipment and keeping the pool clean in times of vacancy, so it is best to discuss this with your property manager regarding their available cleaners so they are prepared to act on your instructions.
Exterior Wear and Tear
This is referring to the odds and ends of the house’s appearance. It’s important to take notice if paint starts peeling, or a gutter comes loose, or a window sill loses its rubber. These tiny things will add up and get worse if ignored. A bit of peeling paint can quickly turn into a whole wall of discolouration.
Achieving a market-leading rental rate becomes harder and harder with every part of the home that becomes tired and aged.
Stay on top of these little things as they come up. As soon as you notice them, make a note in your diary to deal with them. You don't have to deal with them immediately - you can't replace carpet, repaint and remodel every year. But making sure your long-term planning for your property factors in your upkeep work and communicating your plans with your property manager helps them understand your plans and work to help achieve these goals. Your PM can provide advice and recommendations on which fixes can be scheduled at a later date and which are worth completing immediately to minimise future expense.
Locks and Alarms
Smoke Alarm compliance is complicated. A certificate needs to be renewed every 12 months, however they must also be checked at the transition of every new lease. It’s the law. You risk heavy fines neglecting smoke alarm compliance, as does your managing agent. Failure to look after these issues can create insurance issues as well if something goes wrong.
You should also check that there are locks on every major entry point to the house. Front doors should have deadlocks and screens. Ask your property manager to conduct a check on the locks and screens for their worthiness. A weak link provides opportunity for thieves to exploit – often causing more damage to the property as they gain entry.
Some maintenance to the garden is more than just mowing the lawn and ensuring weeds are being kept at bay (which is always the tenant’s responsibility unless you choose otherwise). Overgrown shrubs or trees can cause lawn die off from shade or drying out the surrounding ground. And if there’s a dead tree, or a tree that is growing so large it’s a danger to the house, the landlord needs to take care of it before the next storm plays Russian roulette with your home. That could mean getting it trimmed, or removed entirely.
It’s best not to put that off. If a tree is too large, don’t wait for the next storm to reveal the problem. Its not just the above-ground risks to consider either - invasive roots can disturb foundations, plumbing and drainage.
Ensuring your property is at its best is can be a full-time job. Having a property manager who knows your expectations and can deliver caring, compliant and occupied property management is worth its weight. We hope this guide has been helpful. If you have any follow up questions about responsibility between tenant and landlord, Pursuit Real Estate can help.