Your property constitutes a significant investment of your capital. Therefore, it only makes sense to look after it or them to the maximum extent possible.
It’s also worth remembering that some elements of this aren’t left to your discretion. The law requires that your property is maintained to the extent that it provides a safe living environment for your tenants. So, it’s one of your landlord responsibilities.
Your landlord insurance provider will also require that the property is properly maintained – or they could refuse any insurance claim where the cause is negligence (such as a fire caused by poor electrical wiring).
The following tips might prove to be useful in helping you to focus on some property management basics.
Deal with problems quickly
The attractions of allowing something to “drift” are familiar to us all. Yet putting things off until tomorrow might prove to be a disaster.
If the problem relates to safety issues, you could be in serious legal trouble if you put off dealing with it. Even if it doesn’t, postponing taking action simply runs the risk of the problem becoming worse and more expensive to fix.
Finally, a landlord who doesn’t seem too bothered about their own property can prove to be a significant negative role model for tenants. You run the risk of them thinking “if the landlord doesn’t care about this property, why should I?”
Build relationships with key contractors
Many landlords have experienced the frustration of trying to deal quickly with a problem, only to find that they can’t get a roofer, plumber, electrician or general builder for days or even weeks on end.
Sadly, there is no absolute solution to this but two ideas come to mind:
- look for property management agencies with qualified tradespeople on their books;
- try to form close friendly relationships with some key trades folk in your area.
Join like-minded individuals
There are plenty of online landlord websites that have forums and useful links. If you are looking for a tradesperson, you may be able to get recommendations.
Inspect your property regularly and encourage your tenants to play a part
You can’t deal with a problem unless you know it actually exists!
The only way to spot problems and deal with them before they become major issues is to find the time to regularly inspect your property including doing things such as getting up into the loft spaces to have a look around etc.
Note that this must be carried out under the terms of the tenancy agreement – you cannot just turn up at your tenant’s home.
If you have a good relationship with your tenants, they can also prove to be invaluable in bringing things to your attention. Encourage them to do so – perhaps putting something in the tenancy agreement to that effect.
Of course, if they do report something, don’t then simply ignore them – otherwise, it’ll be the last time they try and help by doing so.
Know your limits with respect to DIY
Many landlords understandably may try to save money by fixing things themselves, as opposed to paying professionals to do it for them.
That’s fine but do try to recognise your own limitations. A “botched job” may not deal with the problem and might even make it worse. In some cases, you might also put elements of your landlords’ insurance at risk by doing things yourself badly.
Keep in mind too that whilst you are working for hours trying to fix something, then you’re not available to run other parts of your business.
Only use professionals with clear qualifications, a verifiable background and who are operating as a registered company
Most of us are familiar with the term “cowboys” when used in the context of tradespeople.
Unfortunately, this is a real risk to the unwary landlord. Someone who is operating essentially on a DIY basis out of the back of a van may cause you major grief downstream if their work for you proves to be inadequate.
Recognise the value of a good tradesperson
Demand for good tradespeople exceeds supply in most parts of the UK.
Of course, that drives prices up but it also means that you need to be cautious about gaining a reputation for being a slow payer or someone who messes people around etc.
Just as landlords tend to communicate with each other and exchange information, so do tradespeople. If you get a bad reputation for the above things or others like them, you may find it even more difficult to find good tradespeople in future!