A well maintained real estate property is a property that’s in the investment game for the long haul. But maintenance has a lot of moving parts and can be stressful for homeowners.
When we surveyed our owners, 25% of them expressed that maintenance was a particularly challenging aspect of property management.
The truth is that maintenance is a crucial part of rental property management and the lifeline of your property. Regular and well thought out maintenance means your property will remain in good condition and continue to be a steady source of income for a long time.
To make maintenance easier to navigate for homeowners, we created this residential property management best practices guide. We’ve highlighted what you can expect from a property manager and when it’s time to move on from one, as well as how to succeed at maintenance as a DIY property manager.
Start by managing expectations
At :Different, we always say that your property is a business and that you should treat it that way.
Managing expectations is a big part of running a successful business. So let’s start by highlighting what a tenant can expect from you and what you can expect from a property manager when it comes to management and maintenance
What your tenants can expect from you?
A good landlord has a keen understanding of what the law mandates they must provide for tenants, but also has a sense of what individual tenants want.
- Keep the property well maintained, and in a similar livable condition to when the tenant first moved in
- Provide utilities like water heating that are in working order throughout their stay
- Stay on top of pest control and have functional security systems, smoke alarms and appliances
- Respond to repair requests in a timely manner
- Respect the tenant’s right to privacy and enjoyment of the property
As part of residential property management best practices, you’ll be expected to maintain the property to a minimum living standards condition at all times, where all utilities, water, electricity and gas systems are functional and all appliances are working and safe to use.
What is property maintenance?
Property maintenance is assessing the health of your investment property, what repairs and upgrades it needs and then addressing them. It is part and parcel of rental property management and is crucial to keeping your property in a rent worthy condition.
Generally, it is recommended that the average operational and maintenance costs for investment property are 50% of the property’s rental income.
For example, if you’re renting your property at $500 a week, you’ll bring in $26,000 a year. That means $13,000 should be poured back into the property, in way of operating expenses, which includes maintenance, repairs and upgrades.
How does a good property manager do maintenance?
While it’s not exactly ask and ye shall receive, a good property manager can make life pretty sweet. Australians know this because 80% of them opt to have their properties cared for by a property manager!
A good property manager will keep a property well maintained by:
- Conducting regular home maintenance and inspections of the property
- Responding to tenant repair requests in a timely manner
- Organising and scheduling maintenance
- Getting repair jobs done at reasonable prices
A case study in best practice home maintenance and repairs
Let’s drive this concept of a good property manager home with a scenario.
Your property is rented out to Mr Hassan and his family. The rental has only one bathroom and on one unfortunate Monday morning, Mr Hassan wakes up to find the toilet broken.
Mr Hassan calls the property manager and reports the damage. Now, it’s up to the property manager to:
- Get the job assigned to a tradie fast
- Liaise with Mr Hassan throughout the repair process
- Deduct the repair cost from your rental income
- Not get you involved unless absolutely necessary
A good property manager will assess the severity/urgency of the damage to determine how quickly it needs to be repaired. At :Different, 98% of approved maintenance requests are assigned to tradies in 24 hours.
In this scenario, the property manager realises that the property only has one toilet and realises speed will be of the essence. She deems the job urgent and assigns the job to a trustworthy tradie who gets the toilet fixed on the same day. Before she marks the job as resolved, she follows up with Mr Hassan to make sure everything is fine.
Mr Hassan and his family have a functional bathroom and you weren’t needed throughout the entire process. Everyone is happy.
Let’s expand on this further.
When Mr. Hassan reports the broken toilet, he also lets the property manager know about a couple of broken cupboard handles in the kitchen. After the property manager assigns the urgent job to a tradie, she calls others tradespeople to get quotes for the broken handles. After getting a few quotes, she assigns the job for the best price, which gets done on Thursday.
If your property manager works like this one, then you’ve got a keeper. It’s important that a property manager gets the urgent work done first and then moves onto lesser jobs, all while keeping you at arm’s length. Non-urgent repair requirements differ between states but should be addressed in no longer than a month.
That being said, happy tenants appreciate it when all jobs are taken seriously, so a quick turnaround of jobs is always good news.
Is it time to let your property manager go?
Property managers aren’t always forever. In fact, sometimes it might be best to switch your property manager, especially when you’re no longer getting your management fee’s worth.
If your gut is telling you your rental property manager is lacking in residential property management best practices, here are some red flags to look out for:
- There are unreasonable delays in handling repairs
- You’re picking up your PM’s slack by interacting with tenants and organising repairs
- Your PM delivers a bad experience to your tenants, which makes them vacate your property
- Repair prices are unreasonably high
- Repair jobs and upgrades are unfinished or just plain bad
- Your property manager is impossible to reach and communication between you is barely there
If any of the above is occurring, it may be time to move on to a new property manager that can give you that sweet peace of mind.
Best practice property maintenance tips for DIY managers
Best practice property maintenance for the DIY property manager follows the same rules - besides, a happy tenant=happy landlord.
You’ll need to stay on top of general maintenance, communicate with your tenant and tend to their maintenance requests promptly. And yes - that can be a lot of work.
If you want to make investment property management easier and reduce your average costs for maintenance, these tips cover what it is you need to know:
- Stay ahead of the curve: keep in mind that most appliances have a shelf life and properties need constant care. Assess your property’s health regularly and plan ahead for sudden problems.
- Entry condition reports: getting an entry condition report every time a new tenant comes in will allow you to keep a record of your property and give you an idea of what is reasonable wear and tear and what is damage.
- Insurance: get your hands on a good insurance policy that will cover you for property damage and keep your property protected.
- Inspections: regular home inspections help you stay on top of maintenance by letting you know when your property needs attention or an upgrade.
- Scheduled maintenance: regular home spring cleaning and maintenance means you won’t be stuck scrubbing 5-year-old stains or dealing when your next tenant moves out. Stay on top of maintenance by scheduling regular deep cleans, carpet cleans, and outdoor care.
- Harness the power of technology: streamline your rental property management by equating yourself with the best maintenance software. The best software platforms will allow you to sort out all of your property management including rent collection, tax returns, and maintenance.
- Claim it: did you know that a lot of your maintenance and repair work is tax-deductible? Read up on what you can claim here.
If you’re keen to learn some fast fix property maintenance, read our article on some nifty DIY maintenance tips.
Maintenance takes work and constant follow up but that doesn’t mean it needs to be complicated or difficult. If you’re keen on going DIY, refer to the tips provided in this guide to make your maintenance journey easier.
Like what you just read? Well, there’s a lot more where that came from
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