Maintenance can be one of the biggest lightning rods for conflict and dissatisfaction from all sides during the management of an investment property. It’s very important to get the management of this right – but it doesn’t have to be a huge cost! You can maximise your rental return by following the 5 tips listed below.
- Not offering a reduction in rent in lieu of completing maintenance.
This is usually an easy solution when compared to more intense or cost-heavy maintenance needs, such as re-waterproofing the shower or fixing the roof. Offering the tenant a reduction in their weekly rent whilst the work is yet to be started or completed, or instead of doing certain maintenance items until the tenants eventually move out. This is partly because some tenants immediately request rent reductions from their first maintenance request. Falling into this trap is not always a landlord’s fault – sometimes their investment property agent like Charlotte Peterswald will give unsound advice or not push back on the tenant’s rent reduction demands.
However, it’s better for both your income, and the overall market if you don’t do this, and instead, just complete the work on time. If the overall market rent drops, this can affect your long-term value when it comes to a sales perspective too.
2. Prompt communication and addressing of maintenance items.
Communication breakdown is probably the primary culprit behind almost every negative experience in rentals. This is especially the case when it comes to maintenance. Slow responses to maintenance can lead to spiraling costs, frustration from the tenant, and even rent reduction requests. Tenants often complain that the investment property manager doesn’t reply to them fast enough or outright ignores them. We know that the issue is often solved by fast action on the part of the property manager, but also, on the landlord’s end.
The best solution is to quickly respond by assuring the tenant that it will be attended to, and organizing your quotes as soon as you can. Just like in the previous tip, it’s better to attend to maintenance sooner rather than later. The old proverb: “a stitch in time saves nine” comes to mind here – a leaking tap could fast become an emergency maintenance request where a plumber called by the tenant might have to go ahead with high-cost fixes, that could have either been avoided or at least addressed on your terms.
3. Let trade suppliers quote on your maintenance – unless you have to pull power with a company.
Generally speaking, a rule of thumb for completing the larger items of maintenance is to get at least a couple of quotes. The idea is to make sure you are getting a reasonable price, but also, importantly, you want the work to be of high quality and not need redoing! If the work is not good, it can end up costing you again in the future.
If you have a good relationship with a handyman or plumber etc, it’s a good idea to keep making sure they are giving you their best rates and looking after you. Often a business is preoccupied with gaining brand new customers that their first-ever quote to you will be for the best rate, however, many businesses know they may only have you as a customer for just one job and will try to milk it for everything it’s worth.
Many businesses will give you better rates once there is an established relationship through previous business being given to them. Therefore, many property managers want to have a good selection of reliable trades.
4. A lick of paint shifts paradigms.
It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for perceptions. This is true for both prospective tenants when your property is vacant, but also for your ongoing tenants who might otherwise develop apathy through a stagnant lease situation. When older tired walls with scuff marks suddenly get a fresh coat, it encourages the tenants that you are putting care into the property – meaning they should as well.
It’s not just the walls either – window frames, door frames, bathroom tiles, bath resurfacing, doors, external walls, balcony railings are all components of the property that, when given a minor facelift, can be transformed. Your tenant’s perception will improve with something as simple as a fresh coat of paint.
5. Invest in good flooring.
Your floors are the most used part of the property. Simply put, the floor will be in constant use. It’s most likely the first part of the internal property that the tenants will see when coming into the open home.
It is also important for the floor to be functional – easy to clean and maintain, sturdy, comfortable. Carpets for example may look nice but are harder and more costly to maintain than nice, polished floorboards which can be swept more easily or simply be sanded if there are any scratches or marks.
If you are looking to lease out your property at the highest return, with the lowest maintenance expenditure, prospective tenants indeed look at the paint on the walls, and the floors first. Easy to maintain floors encourage tenants, whilst fresh carpets can do the same. A fresh lick of paint is like when you go on a holiday and come back with a tan! You feel new, even though you are not.
I hope that these tips help, and remember, there are plenty more than 5 tips, these are just the top ones!