The Real Costs of Planned Maintenance for Buy-to-Let Landlords

The Real Costs of Planned Maintenance for Buy-to-Let Landlords

Jackie Balboni
28th April 2016

The responsibilities of landlords who invest in property in the private rental sector do not stop when the tenancy agreement has been signed and the tenants have moved in. The reality is that landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that the property is maintained to a good standard.
Many landlords in Swansea and the surrounding area who choose to manage their property and tenancy themselves are not always aware of these legal obligations. It’s when this realisation dawns on property landlords and the management and maintenance of the property starts to encroach on their time, that they realise the benefits of using a professional letting agency instead.
McCartan Lettings in Swansea is one such agency who work with a number of landlords across the area to help them let their properties to professional people and to manage all day to day tenant and maintenance issues.
Check Lists
The team at McCartan have come up with a check list for landlords to help them understand the maintenance issues that can arise when letting out properties to tenants along with some guidelines for planning for inspections and repairs.
#1 – Calendar of Inspections
Landlords will need to establish a calendar to schedule check-ups and inspections on their property. By following a schedule of regular inspections, ideally on a quarterly basis, it is easier for landlords to identify any major issues or problems before they turn into expensive, emergency repairs. The sort of issues you need to look for can include:
Any signs of damp or mould
Damage to gutters or roofs
Drains and drainage are working effectively
Minor issues such as leaky taps, cracked tiles or fraying electric cables.
Ensuring the tenants are keeping the property in general good order. If they aren’t then this is an ideal opportunity to highlight the problems to the tenants to minimise any further damage or misuse.
Landlords should ask their tenants to alert them as soon as possible should any problems, however minor, may arise.
#2 – Planned Maintenance Programme
This calendar should also include a planned programme of maintenance jobs which are likely to requite attention over the course of the year. For example, after autumn you should arrange for all the gutters to be cleared to avoid clogging and leaks, and in spring, you should plan for external improvements including painting and gardening if as appropriate. You should also inform your tenants about these plans.
#3 – Safety Checks
During regular inspections landlords must also ensure that their rental property complies with all relevant safety rules and carry out any maintenance or repair work if issues arise. The key areas to cover include:
Ensuring that tenants have an up-to-date list of emergency contacts
Checking that all existing electrical installations are in a safe condition. (If electrical work does need to be carried out then this must be undertaken by a qualified electrician who should supply a certificate for the work undertaken.
Arrange for annual Landlords gas safety checks to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. If there are any gas related works that need to be conducted outside of this inspection then then this must also be completed by a Gas Safe registered engineer.
Install a smoke and a carbon monoxide alarm, ensure they are being tested regularly by the tenant.
It is also best practice to carry out a fire risk assessment at the property and if your rental property is an HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) then this assessment is a legal requirement. In this instance, you should also have a fire alarm installed and check that it is working on a regular basis.
Keep all records of annual gas safety checks reports, electrical certificates and reports, receipts and invoices for maintenance and other work done to the rental property.
#4 – Damp Checks
Rental properties need to be free from damp. If there is any condensation or mould, it should be treated accordingly. Landlords should also look at introducing methods to improve ventilation in the property. It will be well worth investing in an extractor fan for the bathroom which is the room where damp is most likely to occur.
#5 – Machines and appliances
Landlords are also responsible for the good repair of any machines or white goods in their rental property and any which may be unsafe should be removed immediately. It is the Landlord’s responsibility to repair or replace the item.
#6 – Keep records
It’s worth keeping a log of all maintenance works completed, ongoing works and those planned for the future. This log could also prove useful in the case of any potential tenant complaints or disputes regarding the condition of the property.
Landlords should not encourage their tenants to carry out work or repairs to the property as they will then have no control over the quality and, in some instances, could invalidate your buildings insurance. It’s also not advisable to do specialist repair work yourself, unless you have the relevant qualifications or experience.
Other Landlord costs
The other costs landlords need to take into account when looking at the potential return on their investment property is insurance and marketing.
Landlords need to ensure that their buildings and contents insurance policies are adequate for their needs, making sure they have a specialist policy for a rental property not just a standard insurance policy. Every insurance company will have different terms, so getting good advice at the outset is paramount. In the event of a major maintenance issue, you need to be confident that your insurance company will cover the cost of the repairs and if necessary the cost of temporary accommodation for your tenants.
Hannah McCartan, MD at McCartan Lettings highlights the importance of ensuring a rental property is well maintained in the following video:

It is the cost of carrying out maintenance works and managing tenants’ expectations on a regular basis is why many landlords prefer to use the services of a professional agency such as McCartan Lettings. A letting agent can manage all of the maintenance, repairs, inspections and legal reports required; and they can usually do very cost effectively as they will have a bank of tried and trusted trades at their disposal.
For more details on McCartan Lettings services for landlords, call them to today on 01792 430100.


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