What Landlords Need To Know About Property Repairs

What Landlords Need To Know About Property Repairs

Mark Taylor,

Rental repairs can cause headaches for landlords and tenants. Here are some expert property management tips to save you money, prevent stress and keep your tenant happy when repairs need to occur.

Renting a property is fairly self-explanatory. You find a tenant, agree on a price and sign a contract, right? But what happens when a roof starts to leak, leaving damp patches in the ceiling and destroying the wood of your tenant’s bedside table? Or what do you do when the dishwasher-overflow floods the kitchen? 

Here are some top property management tips on repairs to keep you and your tenant happy without leaving you too far out-of-pocket:

Know Your Rights

A landlord is always responsible for emergency repairs. These include gas leaks, burst pipes and blocked toilets. If they occur, you have to respond to a tenant’s request within 24-48 hours. If a landlord doesn’t answer a request, a tenant is allowed to organise a repair up to a certain value. 

Having a contactable property manager takes the pressure off the landlord and is crucial during times like public holidays when you might be out of town.

For less urgent repairs, like a dripping tap or a jammed window, owners have approximately a fortnight to respond. 

Sometimes tenants neglect the property and are liable for the damage that they have caused. If that’s the case, your property manager will consult you about which actions should be taken to make sure that you are reimbursed. 

Communication Is Key

If your property has a repair problem, make sure the lines of communication are open in all directions. Communicate clearly your intention and plans to your property manager. In turn, they should give the tenant plenty of notice regarding repairs and tradespeople arriving and explain what will be involved in the process.  
 
Leave Instructions

If you’ve ever stayed at an Airbnb you are probably familiar with a plastic-sleeve folder full of manuals and tips. It might be a lot of work to put together but consider making the effort for the sake of your property.

You don’t need to advise your tenants of local dining options, but you do need to tell them that the dryer stops working when the filter’s not emptied or that the dishwasher overflows when it’s too full. Providing this information to your property manager could save both of you a lot of emails and even prevent damage from occurring in the first place.    

Know Your Property

Ten years ago, you may have splurged on bamboo floorboards, a Caesarstone kitchen and Miele appliances but properties age, and wear and tear shows. It is important you know the state of your rental before you lease it. This way, if the enamel on the bathtub is scratched, you will be able to tell if it has been damaged by a tenant or has just deteriorated with age. 

A good property manager will compile a report between tenancies and if you make some minor repairs during that time, you may run into less problems later down the track. 

You will also know the difference between pre-existing wear and tear and damage that may have been caused by the current occupants.

Know Your Suppliers

A good property manager will have their own preferred plumber, electrician or painter. But perhaps yours is cheaper, or you would rather use a (licensed) friend who is looking for work. Leave a comprehensive list of preferred tradespeople with your property manager, so that you can ensure that repairs are completed up to your standard. 

Trust Your Property Manager

Your property manager should be your tenant’s first point of contact when something goes wrong. This is why it’s important to choose someone reliable and communicative, someone who is quick to respond to their calls and emails. Communication is vital, not just to organise repairs but to also diffuse a situation as owners and occupiers can be hot-headed when property damage has occurred.

You also want someone who will save you money in the long run by knowing your rights. Your property manager should know the difference between an urgent repair and one that can wait. They will also know which flaws are your responsibility to fix and which are the tenants. 

Tenants are often culpable for gardening, pool maintenance and light bulb changes. This will be in the lease, a document that a good property manager will know intimately. 

Fast Repairs = Happy Tenants

If repairs are met quickly, you will have a happier tenant and one who is more likely to renew their lease and go along with an annual rental increase in order to stay in a well-maintained property. 

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