The True Cost of Property Maintenance

Saturday, June 4, 2016

As an owner of an investment property and as a landlord receiving rental income, the last thing you want is to spend money on your investment unnecessarily.

As property managers with over 25 years’ experience, we have seen and heard pretty much everything to do with property maintenance issues. This is certainly one area where years of experience pay off and property knowledge is vital. Many landlords do not understand their obligations under the act or their legal obligation to maintain their property so that it is not a risk to their tenants and a financial or legal liability for you the landlord.
Property maintenance can be divided into three different areas:

1. Maintenance you are required to carry out legally, whether required under the Residential Tenancies Act or to mitigate potential legal claims. Maintenance that falls under this category includes lighting, plumbing (including leaking taps and blocked drains), unsafe building structures, pools and spas, windows, doors and locks, electrical faults and Smoke Alarms. And this is just a sample as there are so many examples where unattended maintenance can leave a landlord exposed.

2. Maintenance requested by the tenant. This usually falls under the above category but often property maintenance requests by tenants can be just an advice or minor improvement wish that was not part of the original lease. This is one area where an experienced property manager can help. Many minor requests are not actually maintenance but a request for improvements to the property. These can include replacing old appliances for new ones, adding light fittings, extra telephone or power points, painting, new furnishings and other minor improvements. Your property manager should advise you the best course to take with these requests, which can be just refusing the request (if it is not a genuine maintenance issue, no excuse needs to be given), advising the tenant that the approval of a request would then lead to a rent increase or indeed recommending the request be granted as the it may be genuine. If the request comes from a good tenant, then it may be worthwhile considering granting the request so they stay in the property.

3. Maintenance needed to maintain or improve the value of your property. Maybe the external woodwork could do with a repaint, gutters need cleaning, wiring checked, white ant inspections kept up to date and all doors windows and locks kept in good order. Improving the value of your property can also include dividing rooms to create an extra bedroom, carports, installing air conditioning or rejuvenating bathrooms and kitchens. This type of maintenance does not apply to every property, especially if it is going to be demolished to make way for future development.

The idea to handle maintenance tasks yourself is always a temptation, either to save money or to make sure the job is done properly. It should be noted however that a lot of maintenance must be handled by licensed and insured trades’ people. If work is not carried out properly, insurance claims may be voided if anything goes wrong, work may need to done again and it may cost more in the long run. This is not to say you cannot handle minor repairs and maintenance yourself, but check with your property manager and the relevant authorities first.
As you can see, property maintenance is not a simple task and while many landlords will be able to make their own choices, the advice of an experienced property manager should be sought to make sure you are making the right decision both legally and financially.

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