Maintenance is essential to keeping investment properties in good condition and tenants happy. In other words, there’s no avoiding it. To make it easier, we’ve curated a list of house maintenance tips that will help you streamline your investment property’s maintenance, sans the headache.
For many landlords, property maintenance can seem like a time and money drain. When we talked to property owners, 25% of them mentioned that they found property maintenance challenging.
The truth is that maintenance can be a drag - but it doesn’t have to be.
If you’ve got the right mindset and planning, you can take the fuss out of property maintenance, catch small problems before they become big ones, and lessen the strain on your wallet too!
This guide will show new homeowners and seasoned landlords how to intercept problems before they happen, how to manage home maintenance and how much to spend on it.
Here are 9 property maintenance tips for homeowners!
1. Contingency planning - the simple answer to ‘how can I reduce my maintenance costs’?
How can I reduce my maintenance costs? It’s a question that Australian landlords research on average ten times a month.
The best tip for reducing property maintenance costs is this: maintain well, maintain regularly and plan ahead. Replacing an entire plumbing system can cost up to $20,000, but why let your property get to that point?
Regular maintenance will save you from running into a problem down the line and blowing a hole in your savings.
One of the best tips for staying on top of maintenance for your investment property is to plan for it. When you start to plan, factor in:
- The shelf life of appliances - everything has an expiry date
- Garden maintenance
- Changing light bulbs, batteries for smoke detectors, and HVAC filters
- Yearly pest control
- Pool servicing and chemicals
- Updating/servicing security systems
Once you know what to expect, you can schedule maintenance, repairs, or replacements in advance. Don’t forget to set up reminders on your phone or email.
2. Have an emergency maintenance fund
There’s something to the old adage: keep something for the rainy day. As a landlord, you’re responsible to fix any urgent repairs that impact the safety of your tenants.
- Broken windows, doors, or locks
- Security system repairs
- Pool fencing and gates
- Emergency plumbing, electricity or HVAC problems
It doesn’t happen every day, but most tenants will need an urgent repair at some point. Your best bet in this instance is to have a fund set aside for repairs.
How much to spend on home maintenance?
If you want to know how much to spend on home maintenance, we generally recommend that 50% of your rental income go back into property maintenance.
So, on a good month when you don’t need to do any maintenance, set aside 50% of rental yield aside for emergencies.
3. Get good insurance
A landlord without property insurance is like a rock climber without a harness. Insurance is your main line of defence when it comes to protecting your property. It’ll cover you for:
- Rent arrears
- Damage to property
- Loss of rent during repairs
Only 55% of landlords managing their property have insurance, which seems a tad counterintuitive.
There are a lot of policies out there, so there’s no reason to expose yourself. Do your research and find a policy that works for you.
4. Conduct regular inspections
Conducting routine inspections goes hand in hand with planning for maintenance. It’ll help you gauge how the property is doing, and when any appliances or systems will need TLC.
A good property manager’s expertise can help you heaps with this step. Seasoned property managers have inspected many homes and can give you a heads up to sort out a drain or change HVAC filters before you need to replace the air conditioning for a good $5000.
Streamline this process even further by preparing an entry condition report every time a new tenant moves in. Entry conditions reports will help you assess if the damage is due to reasonable wear and tear or not.
5. Keep the outdoors pristine
We’ve all seen homes with the front yard looking like an extension of the tool shed and it’s not a good look. Well maintained outdoor areas are important for keeping your current tenants happy and will attract high-quality tenants if you’re looking for new renters.
Here are some property maintenance tips for outdoor care:
Create an easy maintenance garden
Outdoor property care is ongoing so there’s no need to make it more complicated than it needs to be. Simplify your outdoor care tasks by:
- Investing in native plants that can fare well by themselves
- Keeping the garden simple with hedging plants
Mowing the lawn, pulling out the weeds, and a quick prune is something you can do to make outdoor maintenance cost-effective. If you choose to outsource this task, let it be a recurring service so you don’t have to schedule it every time.
Automate your pool system
No one likes a pool that’s turned into a pond. If you neglect your pool and it starts to get green and black algae formation, your usual $1200 per year maintenance costs can jump up by thousands of dollars, because you’ll likely have to renovate it if it sustains permanent damage.
A good way of preventing algae formation and bacterial activity is to automate the pool system so that the water continues to circulate.
This way if your tenants don’t have the time for it, it’ll stay in relatively good shape. You’ll have to pop in occasionally to test the water and add chemicals.
6. Indoor care
The interior of your property deserves as much attention as its exterior. Keeping the property well looked after means that your tenants are well looked after too. It’s also your ticket to increasing your rental yield.
Here are some short and sharp tips on indoor home maintenance that becomes very cost-effective when you DIY:
- Paint instead of tile: This goes for your kitchen and bathroom floor. Painting over aged tiles is cheaper than retiling.
- Carpet clean: Give your carpets a fluff and fold every 1-2 years to avoid having to replace them - it’ll be better for your budget too. Regular carpet cleanings not only refresh the appearance of your carpets but also help to prolong their lifespan, saving you money on expensive replacements down the road.
- Pet-proof the property: Renting Aussies - a good 30% of them - love their furry friends. Pet-proof your property so you don’t end up having to repair serious damage. It’s a double whammy because you’ll also be able to increase the rent!
- Deep clean regularly: Keep your property spic and span by deep cleaning regularly. That way you won’t be stuck cleaning irreversible stains every 5 years. Going DIY on this step means you don’t spend anything at all!
7. DIY home maintenance tips
Who doesn’t love a quick cost-effective home maintenance DIY tip? If you don’t have the budget to call a plumber every time the slightest problem comes up, a handy hack can often do the job and more.
Here are some tips to keep on file so you won’t have to dish out big bucks later:
- Good old vinegar: if you have a clogged drain you can add warm water and vinegar to the drain pipe. You can also use vinegar to clean any microwave stains and showerhead buildup every few months.
- Toilet drains: Toilet drains get clogged up with both men and women regularly losing their hair. To avoid the risk of the hair getting caught deeper in the piping system, slap on some latex gloves and clear out those drains every three months.
- Cushion covers: If your property is furnished, cover the cushions and mattresses with protectors so that they last longer.
- Vent filters: To make your vent hood filter last longer before you have to replace it, give it a good soak every 6 months to a year.
- Dishwashers: Run the dishwasher on an empty cycle every few weeks so it remains in good condition.
- Vacuum with the air conditioning on: Turn the aircon on when you’re vacuuming or cleaning the carpet so any particles that flow around in the air get picked up by the aircon filter.
8. Maintenance is Tax Deducteable, no really..
9. Get a property manager
We can’t in good faith have a list of home maintenance tips and not include hiring a property manager, especially for new homeowners. Around 80% Australian property owners employ the services of a property manager.
If you want cost-effective maintenance, invest in a good property manager that will take care of all the heavy lifting when it comes to maintaining your property.
Yes, a property manager will cost you, but they’ll save you time and will be able to hook you up with a network or experienced and trustworthy tradies.
You can always hire a property manager, learn the ropes yourself and take over when you’re ready. Start with a consultation to learn more about your needs and requirements.
If you go away from this guide with one idea, the main tip to takeaway would be to maintain your house regularly. Stay on top of property maintenance so you don’t end up with major repairs that might put a dent in your savings.
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