A well-maintained rental property is not only crucial to preserving the value of your investment, but it’s also an essential part of having long-lasting, happy tenants.
It’s important to maintain and care for your property, much like you would with cars and other assets, helping avoid larger bills for extensive repairs in the future.
However, when it comes to rental property maintenance, your first instincts can easily lead you astray and actually hurt your ability to optimise returns on your investment. And this can come in the form of commonly believed myths; from thinking it’s easier to do repairs yourself, to thinking the tenants are always responsible for repairs.
So, to help you determine what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to rental property maintenance, we’ve gone ahead and debunked six of the most common myths.
Myth #1: DIY maintenance saves money
DIY maintenance can come in handy and be a great way to save money on rental repairs; provided you know what you’re doing.
If you’re a skilled tradie and can handle basic repairs and maintenance in your rental property, then by all means, do it yourself and save yourself a few bucks on calling another tradie to do the same job. But if you’re not, or repairs are beyond your expertise – it’s important to recognise that sometimes it’s better to leave things to the professionals.
While there are certainly advantages to managing your property yourself, we are the first ones to admit that not everything can be done DIY-style when it comes to rental property maintenance.
Yes, if it is a simple job, it can certainly eliminate costs of labour, however, there are more issues to consider here:
- Rental properties require maintenance and repairs that can withstand wear and tear and/or meet health and safety regulations
- You may not be qualified to make repairs that are comprehensive
- You will need to make sure your property is still within compliance
- You can end up with greater financial loss if the work you do is not sufficient
Not only that, but it’s also an extremely time-consuming job. You will need to be available 24/7 to answer any emergency calls or texts and be able to tend to maintenance and repairs whenever possible. As a result, 46% of owners we surveyed said they use a property manager because they don’t have time to do it themselves.
Much like when your car requires extensive maintenance, you wouldn’t risk making repairs yourself if you aren’t an experienced car mechanic or know exactly what you’re doing, as this may result in an extremely hazardous situation later on.
Remember: What you believe is saving money initially, may be the very thing to cause greater damage and greater financial loss in the future.
Myth #2: Tenants are always responsible for maintenance and repairs
Who pays the maintenance fees, landlord or tenant?
It can be easy to think tenants are the ones who are responsible for all property maintenance and repairs, after all, they’re the ones living there day in and day out. But no, much like it is for rental cars, that isn’t always the case for your rental property.
Landlords and tenants typically share responsibility for maintenance issues in a rental property, which is usually laid out in the tenancy agreement at the start to help identity who is responsible for what, and when.
The easiest way to identify who is responsible is to pinpoint whether it is fair wear and tear or property damage. This can then determine who pays the maintenance fees, the landlord or tenant.
Yes, if the tenant punches a hole in the wall or kicks a ball through a window, they are absolutely liable for damages and repairs. But, if there are growing mould, structural and/or electrical issues, this is your responsibility as the owner.
Claiming maintenance on rental property
If it turns into a he-said-she-said situation and you believe it’s your tenants’ responsibility, but they think it’s yours – this is where your rock-solid Entry Condition Report comes in – helping you identify whether the damage was there before the tenant moved in.
Ultimately, it is important to identify the type of damage before assuming the tenants are the ones responsible.
If you’re still unsure, find out more about both tenant and landlord responsibilities in each state.
Myth #3: The rental bond can be used for any maintenance or repairs
But the belief that the rental bond can be used for just any property maintenance or repairs, is false.
This is only allowed if accidental, deliberate, or malicious damage to the property is caused by the tenant or their guests, not including standard wear and tear.
Similarly to above, this is why it’s crucial to determine whether the damage to the rental property is fair wear and tear, or property damage.
A rental bond is put in place to protect rental providers, while also aiming to help tenants get it back at the end of the tenancy. Therefore, it is held by a third party who makes sure it’s kept safe and appropriately distributed at the end of the tenancy.
Each state has their own laws surrounding bonds, so be sure to check your respective state’s regulations:
- NSW – Office for Fair Trading
- QLD – Residential Tenancies Authority
- VIC – Residential Tenancies Bond Authority
Remember: Landlords cannot make a claim against the rental bond for fair wear and tear as this cost is their responsibility.
Myth #4: Landlords can conduct inspections whenever they want
As a rental provider, you have rights and responsibilities when it comes to maintaining your property while still respecting the rights of your tenants.
And although you may want to check up on your property every other weekend to make sure it’s being well maintained, you’re not in your legal right to do so.
Routine property inspections are expected, but it’s important to be aware of the legislation on the frequency of property inspections from state to state, and understand tenants’ rights and responsibilities
They are a great way to check up on your property (and tenants) to identify any issues or maintenance that needs attending to, but you can’t conduct an inspection whenever you want, however many times you want.
Remember as well, that by law, adequate written notice must be given when doing routine inspections.
Myth #5: If a tenant fails an inspection, they will need to leave the property immediately
Routine inspections are mainly to assess the condition of the rental property and help identify whether the tenant is in breach of their rental agreement.
If a tenant fails an inspection due to something minor, they will be given time to rectify it without any repercussions. This can include things like:
- Hanging artwork on the walls
- Not ventilating property
- Not mowing the lawn
Research shows that more than one in seven renters in Australia are afraid to ask their landlord for repairs due to fears of being evicted or having their rent increased.
This can be problematic if any property maintenance issues appear, as tenants will need to inform the landlord or property manager as soon as possible to reduce the risk of any damage worsening or even being held liable.
So, to minimise their fear, inspections can be a good opportunity to have these open and honest conversations with your tenants to reassure them they won’t be evicted for any minor faults.
But on the other hand, if they are in clear breach of the tenancy agreement or you suspect your tenant is doing something illegal, then tenants can be evicted and will need to leave the property without notice.
Myth #6: A property manager won’t take care of your rental property like you would
After investing your life savings into your rental property, it can be easy to assume property managers won’t care for your property like you would. And 36% of owners we surveyed said that their trust in property manager abilities was a big fear during leasing.
However, property managers will care for your property as if it were their own, for the simple fact that if they don’t have your best interest in mind, they could potentially lose you as a client.
They will be thinking of your property in the long term, keeping on top of maintenance and repairs because the less maintenance issues in your rental property, the more likely tenants will stay, and your rental will be occupied. Ultimately, if you’re making money, then so is your property manager.
Awesome team at :Different! Always willing to assist in every way possible. I’ve never been with a real estate team that would go the extra mile to meet the needs of their tenants.
Our family was experiencing hardship during the passing of our dear nephew and the :Different team was sincerely sympathetic for our loss. They sent an email to send their condolences. Always reply to any issues that need to be resolved regarding our house. I highly recommend them to anyone that’s looking for a reliable real estate tenant
How :Different does maintenance and repairs
If our data tells us that 80% of maintenance requests for a blocked sink costs $524 or less, we will never charge higher than $524 for the same service.
We use smart technology that works 24x7, doesn’t need a vacation and doesn’t demand a paycheque. It also doesn’t forget to follow up on what needs to be done.
We make it easy for owners claiming maintenance on their rental property who benefit from our trade relationships – meaning we can secure ultra-competitive rates for maintenance and repairs so owners can feel confident they’re not paying too much.
Property maintenance myth busted
There you have it, the top six common myths debunked.
You may be a jack-of-all-trades and be able to understand the how’s and why’s of property maintenance, but we came here to just set a few things straight.
While being a landlord may seem pretty straightforward in the beginning, property maintenance and making sure your rental is well maintained can be a logistical (and financial) headache.
Considering the value of investment properties, it’s no wonder owners don’t know what to believe when it comes to property maintenance.
But hopefully, we have put you on the right track by debunking the most commonly believed myths to help you make sure your rental property is the best version it can be.
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