Want to reduce maintenance costs on your rental property? Here’s how
It’s a fact of life that paintwork deteriorates and blinds and carpets age and fray. Dishwashers and heaters can go on the blink, too, and sooner or later, they need to be replaced.
But not all landlords are aware that forward planning for maintenance expenditure and keeping a firm hand on costly “surprise” repairs to rental properties, are far more critical issues in today’s market.
These days, tenants demand more mod-cons in their homes. An increasing number are also leasing properties for longer periods and want any perceived problems with their home addressed promptly and professionally.
No property investor wants to be faced with a bill for thousands of dollars at short notice to replace an air-conditioner, hot water service or to fix a broken gutter.
It’s only by better planning for repairs and upgrades that landlords can reduce yearly maintenance costs, often significantly.
The head of Nelson Alexander’s inner-city property management division, Grant Gifford, says the company gets an opportunity to inspect each of its rental properties once every six months.
“Thorough routine inspections by an experienced property manager mean that small problems and maintenance issues with a property can be quickly identified,” he says. “They can either be dealt with promptly, or a repair or item replacement can be planned for at a later date, before the issue at hand becomes a bigger and potentially more expensive cost for landlords.”
Nelson Alexander manages more than 15,000 properties on behalf of landlords and encourages real-time communication. Tenants are encouraged to contact property managers via text messages, emails or the phone to alert the managers about maintenance issues and what they believe are emerging problems with their homes.
Using a professional property manager offers three major advantages:
+ Wide-ranging practical knowledge achieved through managing hundreds of properties on a daily basis.
+ Comprehensive knowledge of residential tenancy legislation.
+ Providing landlords with a “hands-off” barrier between them and their tenants, while at the same time they’re kept fully abreast of maintenance issues, as well as market supply and demand conditions, by the manager.
Experience counts. A Nelson Alexander property manager’s report delves a lot deeper than simply assessing whether or not the tenants are keeping the property clean and tidy.
“Anyone can take a few photos and do that,” Mr Gifford says. “But proper forward planning comes down to using an experienced property manager who can look beyond whether the place is neat and clean and provide landlords with information to be aware of in the future.
“Our trained managers look beyond basic cleanliness and ask, ‘What is the condition of the paintwork and the carpet?’ The carpet may be clean and vacuumed, but is it worn? Similarly, with the blinds: are they getting to the stage where they’re old and need to be replaced by the start of the next tenancy?”
A skilled property manager will also report on a property’s exterior, noting the condition of the gutters and whether or not the weatherboards on a timber building need painting.
By planning ahead for repairs and upgrades, landlords can more easily budget for rent increases and greater future income.
The company’s property condition reports contain detailed information about how the unit or house is being maintained. Photos revealing the current state of play with the kitchen, bathroom, and external paint work and so on are also included.
When works need to be carried out, Nelson Alexander can put landlords in touch with a team of tradespeople and builders it has on its books, so that upgrades are completed in the shortest possible timeframe.
The company’s reports to its landlord partners typically include comments such as the carpet is becoming worn or that the property could not be easily released without A, B and C happening.
These early warnings may come one year or 18 months before the expiration of the current lease, allowing the landlord to budget ahead for the expenditure. Vital advance information that could also mean, in some cases, that a landlord can spread expenditure over several financial years to put themselves in a tax-effective position.
This sharper emphasis on planning for upgrades is the driving factor in boosting the bottom line for many landlords whose investment properties are managed by Nelson Alexander.
The changeover periods between the end of one tenancy and the commencement of a new tenancy is the best time to repair or upgrade a house or apartment.
Feel free to contact any Nelson Alexander office to discuss your property management needs.