Good upkeep of your property is a key consideration for any landlord, even more so in a world that now includes the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which was introduced in March last year and is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation. It also strengthens tenants' means of redress against landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their property safe.
It shouldn’t just be a legal thing, though, you also have a moral duty to keep your tenants safe and free from harm. What’s more, good property maintenance can have benefits in terms of keeping your tenants happy and more likely to stay put for the long-term. Keeping your property occupied with reliable, happy tenants is key if you want to achieve steady rental income and decent yields over time.
Having long-term tenants in place can also be to your advantage when it comes to repairs, as they will be able to spot these quicker – and will likely be more willing to report them quickly because of the solid relationship you already have.
Additionally, of course, regular upkeep is likely to save you money in the long run by reducing your spend on costly repairs in the future.
Below, we have come up with a number of simple measures to help you keep your rental properties in the best possible condition.
Get plenty of quotes
If maintenance or repair work is required that can’t be fixed by you or your tenants, it’s a good idea to call in the experts. But you need to make sure you aren’t charged over the odds for the work they carry out.
Of course, it’s never a good idea to cut corners or save on costs by using the services of a disreputable tradesperson, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shop around a bit and get plenty of quotes from reliable and trustworthy companies. Getting a range of quotes means you know you’re getting the best possible deal whilst also not sacrificing on quality.
There are a range of comparison sites you can use to source quotes, or you can do it the old-fashioned way by telephoning or emailing the company in question. TrustATrader.com is a good way of finding trusted traders in your local area.
Conduct regular inspections
A pragmatic and preventative way of keeping on top of the maintenance of your homes is to carry out regular inspections.
Here at Angels Sales & Lettings, for example, we conduct quarterly inspections to view the interior and exterior of the property as part of our full management service. We also deal with day-to-day scenarios which may arise during the tenancy, and carry out a closing inspection and the check-out process at the end of the tenancy.
This way, you can know for sure on a regular basis what the condition of your property is and whether any essential work is required. Tenants can’t always be relied upon to tell you about any important maintenance issues, which makes frequent inspections doubly important so you can keep tabs on the upkeep of your home.
Call in the experts
There is a good chance you will use the same tradespeople again and again, especially if they provide an excellent, trusted service for a reasonable price.
It’s important that you keep this professional relationship cordial and productive to both help save you money and stress in the long-run.
Building up a decent list of contacts over time is a sensible measure. After all, if your first choice is unavailable, having an equally reliable backup means you won’t be left stranded. Alternatively, you can pass on this responsibility to your letting agent, who will very often have a panel of trusted traders they use across their lettings book.
Employ a decisive approach
It’s important that you don’t wait for smaller issues to become much bigger ones. Prevention is nearly always better than cure, and it’s the same with property maintenance. Dealing with problems early could save you thousands of pounds and also keep your tenants protected from significant disruption and upheaval.
Acting quickly and decisively will also help your tenants to feel valued and safe. If they witness you acting promptly to resolve issues, they will know that you care about their welfare and they will be more inclined to stay where they are.
Be aware of seasonal changes
In the winter, it’s more important to keep an eye on gutters, drains, roofs, insulation and boilers, while in the summer the state of the garden and good ventilation becomes much more vital.
When it comes to avoiding clogged drains and gutters, you may need to pass this responsibility onto your tenants as you won’t be there to physically sweep the debris or leaves away. It may be worth making it part of the tenancy agreement – or an informal arrangement – to ask tenants to keep a close eye on this if it could prove to be a problem in your area.
Prioritise your tenants’ safety
As we mentioned above, you have a duty of care towards your tenants. Boilers and cookers, in particular, require regular servicing to make sure they are 100% safe. Not only does this massively reduce the chances of anything going wrong, it will also give your tenants peace of mind.
There are numerous other factors, ranging from fire-retardant furnishings and carbon monoxide alarms to keeping your tenants free from health and safety hazards, that you must comply with.
Tick off the checklist
If you carry out your own inspections, it’s useful to have a checklist so you can tick things off or note things down. You should be on the lookout for stains and marks on the walls/furniture, as well as dripping taps and radiator leaks, and the state of window and door seals (vital for good insulation).
Additionally, keeping an eye out for damp, mould and condensation is essential, as they can all lead to much bigger long-term problems.
Here at Angels Sales & Lettings, we can guide you through the lettings process and more. For more information on our services in Enfield and Newham, please get in touch with us on 0800 043 6778.
To find out how much your home could be worth on the current market, you can request a free and instant online valuation here.