Managing maintenance professionally is a key part of operating a rental property. Here we will look at how to manage maintenance more effectively and how to save time and money in the process.
The benefits of a professional approach to maintenance
The main benefits of good rental property maintenance practices are:
It provides better service to tenants. It helps to keep good tenants and attract new ones.
It helps you to stay compliant with all the relevant rental property legislation.
It maintains and even enhances the rental value and capital value of your property.
It is usually cheaper and easier to handle maintenance by taking a proactive and planned approach .... rather than having to react to problems at the last minute.
The different types of rental property maintenance
The types of maintenance you will need to do for a rental property can broadly be divided into three groups:
Routine maintenance covers tasks that you have to do regularly and which can be foreseen and planned for.
Gas and electrical safety inspections (and providing the relevant certificates to tenants) are perhaps the most important routine maintenance task.
Other routine maintenance tasks might include cleaning the communal areas (where they exist), gardening to communal areas and periodic painting and decorating.
Urgent and/or emergency maintenance
These are usually tasks that you (hopefully) have to do only infrequently and which may arise with no notice. For example:
Failure of essential services like heating and hot water, gas and electricity. Bursts and leaks.
Breakdown of appliances which you provide.
Accidental damage by the tenant.
Burglaries or vandalism at your property.
Acts of God or similar, such as fires, floods or storm damage.
Preventative maintenance usually comprises tasks that are neither routine nor emergencies. You do not necessarily have to do them but adopting a ‘stitch in time saves nine’ approach may save you time and money and minimise the need for urgent/emergency maintenance later. For example, roof repairs, gutter repairs or repointing external brickwork.
Tasks like upgrading kitchens, bathrooms, heating systems and replacing old and obsolete appliances might also be considered preventative maintenance. You are likely to save time and money by planning and budgeting for this maintenance over time rather than waiting until a repair becomes expensive or an item fails completely.
Tips for better rental property maintenance
Diarise routine and planned maintenance. Set a reminder so that you can arrange these types of maintenance well in advance. This will make it easier and may allow you to source these services at a better price.
Carry out periodic property inspections. This should be done at the start/end of a tenancy and other regular periods, eg. every 6/12 months. This will help you to plan routine maintenance, like decorating. It will also enable you to identify necessary preventative maintenance that tenants are unlikely to notice, such as roof repairs or gutter leaks which may lead to the onset of damp.
Encourage tenants to report maintenance ASAP. Although maintenance requests from tenants are not always necessarily welcome there are benefits to encouraging prompt reporting. As well as maintaining good tenant service most repairs and maintenance are easier and cheaper to resolve before they become urgent.
In order to help avoid unnecessary contacts, however, be clear with tenants about the maintenance tasks that are their responsibility rather than yours.
Have a system in place making it easy for tenants to report maintenance. Have a system in place that can handle out of hours reporting, so that you do not have to be available personally 24/7.
Have trades and contractors lined up in advance so that you can call on them when needed. Have their contact details and details of availability to hand. Know who can do what so that you can easily refer maintenance tasks to the most appropriate supplier.
Have an efficient system in place for progressing and chasing maintenance tasks. This should comprise: Receiving and recording maintenance requests from the tenant. Allocating maintenance tasks to the most appropriate/available trade or contractor. Checking progress of the work. Keeping the tenant informed on what’s happening. Following up afterwards, including checking that the work has been satisfactorily completed and any snagging is done where necessary.
Ways to make managing maintenance easier
Amongst the features of PaTMa Property Manager software are many functions that make property maintenance tasks easier and quicker saving you both time and money and offering enhanced service to your tenants.
Property Manager allows you to diarise routine maintenance. You can create actions and set reminders to remind you that routine maintenance (such as safety certificate renewals) are upcoming.
Property Manager allows you to keep details of trades and contractors at your fingertips for whenever you need them.
Property Manager allows you to upload and store maintenance-related documents like gas and electrical safety certificates online. You can even send them to tenants as they are renewed.
Property Manager allows you to keep track of spending on routine, emergency and preventative maintenance. It can provide the expenditure figures (and all the other figures) you need for your tax return. It can even allocate them to the correct tax category.
Tenant Portal is an invaluable part of PaTMa Property Manager. Using Tenant Portal tenants can send you routine maintenance requests, see confirmation that you’re handling them and receive notification of everything that’s been done to resolve the problem.
Tenant Portal helps landlords manage maintenance too. It will help you progress maintenance tasks quickly and easily from start to completion. It enables you to keep tenants updated with what’s happening without needing to make individual phone calls.
With Tenant Portal, tenants can see all their important tenancy documentation, including the latest gas/electrical safety certificates online at any time without having to ask for them.