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Keeping your rental property in top condition is what will help you unlock the best value from your investment property. And that means you need to understand what types of property maintenance is worth prioritising and investing in, based on your property type.
Take this example: owners of an older family home will need to budget for landscaping, roof repairs and potentially hiring an electrician to rewire old, unsafe electrical wiring. On the flip side, apartment owners will need to focus on value-adding maintenance, such as the upkeep of air con units and proactively checking smoke detectors.
The reality is it can be easy to sink thousands of dollars into unnecessary repairs and improvements that won’t improve the quality or value of your property.
However, by taking a tailored approach to maintenance, you’ll ensure you make cost-effective repairs that will make a meaningful difference in your rental returns.
So, let’s take you through exactly what maintenance services need to be on top of your agenda, based on your property type.
Why you should base your maintenance decisions on your rental property’s type
Every property is unique. And that’s not just about differences in wall colour or floor plans. Instead, we’re talking about the link between property type and the kind of maintenance each rental requires.
Your property’s age, size, and the condition is what should determine the kind of corrective maintenance your property needs now and in the future. That means you need to act like a maintenance matchmaker, and figure out what repairs should be at the top of your list and what jobs are less of a priority.
Why does this matter? First up, basing your maintenance decisions on your property type means you’ll be spending your repairs budget on the right areas. For example, it makes more sense to invest in landscaping for a standalone family home with a big backyard than if you own a small, top-floor apartment.
Plus, it ensures you’re focusing on preventative repairs that will make the biggest impact on your property’s appeal and value.
For an older home, that could mean fixing old electrical wiring and damp patches to prevent mould from cropping up. As for new apartment maintenance, that might mean hiring professional cleaners to keep your property sparkling and in top condition from day one.
So, what maintenance areas should be your focus? Keep reading to find out what different types of maintenance are most important, based on your property type.
New home maintenance tips for the property owners
Even if you’ve scored an off-the-plan home or a newly built house, there are still maintenance costs to factor into your budget.
The good news is that investing in a brand new property means your home is already in good condition. Instead of focusing your attention on repairs, these tips are designed to help you prevent problems from cropping up down the road.
Let’s walk you through some of the top ways to use proactive home maintenance to keep your new home clean, tidy and in top condition for the life of your real estate investment:
- Make use of your maintenance inspection: as a new homeowner, you have what’s called a maintenance period (usually the first 90 days after your home is complete) where your builder is required to fix any defects or issues that become apparent. Make sure to look out for problems such as doors or windows that don’t close properly, cracked in cornices or even creaking floors, and alert your builder to these defects within this maintenance period.
- Hire a professional cleaner to deep clean your property between tenants: use this changeover between tenants to your advantage by getting the professionals in to give your property a thorough clean. This should only set you back $120 to $360 (based on a standard 3-bedroom house) and will prevent grease, dirt and grime from building up in your rental.
- Repaint your rental’s interior walls between tenants: this is also a great opportunity to give your entire home a fresh lick of paint to make your rental look brand new again. For smaller homes (such as repainting two bedrooms and a kitchen or living area) this maintenance expense should cost around $800 to $1,500, while larger three-bedroom homes (with a couple of bathrooms, a kitchen and laundry) are likely to cost around $4,500 to $6,000 to repaint.
- Hire a landscaper to keep your outdoor areas neat and tidy: keeping your new property’s gardens and lawns tidy is much cheaper than investing thousands to fix an overgrown, weed-infested garden. So, book in a regular landscaper or gardener to handle lawn maintenance, which should only set you back $40 to $60 per hour.
- Consider deep cleaning courtyard and balcony tiles: prevent dirt and mould from moving into your property by investing in outdoor cleaners. Booking a professional to pressure clean your property’s paved outdoor areas should cost roughly $40 per hour and will keep your courtyard or balcony in top condition for tenancies to come.
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Older homes and building maintenance tips for the property owners
On the flip side, older homes come with a whole different set of building maintenance needs you need to consider. While the initial price tag of older tags might be lower, they can come with hefty repair costs (especially if the previous owners haven’t kept the property in good condition).
Plus, older homes tend to come with more nuances and quirks than new properties. So, it’s important you or your property manager develop a good relationship with your tenants to pick up any new problems as soon as they crop up. Open communication and employing savvy property maintenance services is what will help keep your property in the best condition possible.
So, what should be the top of your building maintenance agenda for older homes? Here’s our top maintenance tips for older properties:
- Check for leaking roof shingles or signs of damp: if you’ve noticed water stains on the ceiling or walls, early signs of mould or even puddles of water on the floor, chances are you have a roof leak. This needs to be fixed quickly, especially as it can damage your property’s electrical wiring. Usually, this is caused by poor roof maintenance or blocked gutters, so make sure to hire a professional to assess the situation and repair your roof (which usually costs anywhere from $4,500 all the way up to $7,200, depending on the size and severity of the problem).
- Improve underfloor drainage: if your property’s foundations aren’t maintained, this can lead to moisture build-up, mould and even cracked foundations. So, it’s worth speaking to a professional to see if your property’s drainage system is up to scratch. The cost of this job really depends on your property’s design and needs, but typically costs between $1,935 and $5,759.
- Repair old fencing and gates: broken fencing, sagging gates or rusty latches show the age of your property and can turn off potential tenants from making an application for your rental. One of the most cost-effective ways to handle this is to repair an old fence (typically $750 to $1,400), which is less than half the cost of installing new fencing (which can cost up to $4,000).
- Keep an eye out for structural issues: even with the best due diligence, big maintenance issues can crop up in older properties. So, it’s worth knowing what warning signs to watch out for when it comes to structural issues. If you do notice any problem, make sure to chat to a structural engineer so you can get them sorted as soon as possible:
- Book regular pest inspections: if your property has shown signs of pests in the past (such as termites, bugs, or rodents), you’ll need to book more regular pest inspections to prevent future outbreaks. This will usually set you back between $300 to $700, depending on the extent of the problem and the size of your property.
- Review your property’s electrical wiring: this is a top priority for older properties (especially homes built before the 1950s 1960s), as different electrical installations and cables were used that are no longer considered the safest approach. Make sure to book an electrician to inspect your home’s wiring and make any switches necessary to prevent electrical faults and damage from happening.
Units, townhouses and apartments maintenance tips for the property owners
While apartments, units and townhouses don’t have grassy lawns and backyards to maintain, there’s still a stack of steps you should be taking to keep your rental in top condition.
When it comes to apartment maintenance costs, here are our top tips for spending your maintenance budget in the right places:
- Check smoke alarms and ensure they’re working properly: for as little as $129 a year, you can book an annual smoke alarm check that ensures your property is compliant and protected. And buying a new smoke alarm will set you back less than $10 if replacements are needed, too.
- Clean air conditioning unit filters: over time, air-conditioning filters can become clogged and dirty. But by simply removing filters and giving them a deep clean, you can lower your air conditioning bill by 50% and extend the life of the appliance, too.
- Book a pest inspection: keep bugs, rodents and other critters out of your property by scheduling a regular pest inspection (roughly $300 to $700) to prevent pests from moving into your rental.
- Repair leaky taps in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry: not only do leaky taps wastewater, but they can also turn into big, costly maintenance tasks if left unfixed. So as soon as your tenant reports a leak, book a plumber to sort it out (as minor repairs should only set you back $60 to $160).
- Install good ventilation systems to prevent mould in wet areas: again, prevention is better (and cheaper) than curing maintenance problems, especially when it comes to mould (which can set you back over $2,000). Instead, a ceiling exhaust fan can reduce moisture and improve airflow for as little as $100.
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Property maintenance tips for holiday homes
If you’re investing in a holiday home, chances are you’re not living in the area. That means you’re probably working with a property manager to keep your investment in top condition.
But just because your property is out of sight doesn’t mean it’s maintenance operations needs should be out of mind.
So, let’s walk you through our top tips for holiday home maintenance strategies (no matter whether you or your property manager are handling the repairs):
- Invest in a landscape gardener to maintain your outdoor areas: from pools to grassy backyards, it’s important to keep your outdoor areas clean and tidy all year round. Typically, this will cost $40 to $60 per hour, and your maintenance technician can tailor your services based on your property needs (from weed removal to lawn maintenance and beyond).
- Deep clean bathrooms and kitchens between guests: this tip is especially important if your holiday home is used for short-term rentals, as guests will expect a sparkling property during their stay. So, make sure to hire a professional cleaner (roughly $30 per hour) to tackle high-traffic areas (such as bathrooms and kitchens) to keep your guests happy and your property in top condition.
- Replace tired curtains and blinds: if your holiday home is in a coastal spot, the chance of moisture build-up and mould is especially high. So, make sure you’re checking your blinds and curtains regularly for signs of damp or mould. If that’s the case, you can easily replace them for a new set of roller blinds (from $30 to $89) or curtains to keep your property looking clean and fresh.
- Steam clean carpets and tiles: with so many guests coming through your rental property, it’s important to invest in deep cleaning areas such as the floors. Carpets and tiles will be the first to show signs of dirt, so hire a professional cleaner to get this sorted between guests. You can easily hire a floor or carpet cleaner for as little as $40 per day from hardware stores such as Bunnings.
- Clean the BBQ and replace parts as needed ahead of the summer season: especially during the warmer months, your guests will want to take advantage of outdoor dining. So, that means your BBQ needs to be thoroughly cleaned ahead of peak season to keep it in top condition. This will typically cost less than $129 for a small BBQ all the way up to $290+ for a 6-burner BBQ.
So, there you have it. When it comes to maximising the value of home maintenance, matching your repairs to your property type will help you spend your money in the right places. An experienced property manager can give you a leg up by leveraging their years of expertise to help you prioritise the most effective maintenance, based on your property type. By pinpointing exactly what proactive repairs will make a meaningful difference in your rental’s value and appeal, you’ll be able to keep your tenants happy, keep your property in top condition and boost your returns over the lifetime of your investment.
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Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog post are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon. We have not taken into account specific situations, facts or circumstances, and no part of this blog post constitutes personal financial, legal, or tax advice to you. You should seek tax advice from your accountant, specific to your situation.