When you have tenants renting your property, keeping it maintained and in good condition will be one of your highest priorities. However, the nature of day-to-day living means that things will get damaged or broken.
It's how you deal with these issues as a landlord which could have a significant bearing on the performance of your investment over the long-term.
Responding to repairs requests and maintenance issues promptly and thoroughly is one of your key roles as a landlord. It's well-known that the sooner you deal with a problem at a property, the less chance it has of getting worse and costing more time and money than it should.
You must also think of your tenants. They shouldn't have to put up with problems any longer than is reasonably necessary - especially when they are paying you for the responsibility of living in your property.
It's crucial to be proactive about repairs
A recent study found that in some cases tenants are footing the bill for repairs which actually fall under the landlord's remit.
According to a survey carried out by serviced apartment startup Uncle, the average rental household shells out £217 each year on repairs that should be carried out by their landlord.
You could save your tenants money, protect your investment and improve the chances of renters staying for the long-term by being proactive and taking these maintenance issues into your own hands, dealing with them as quickly as possible.
What are the most common repairs requests?
According to the most recent English Housing Survey, 27% of private rented homes failed to meet the Government's Decent Homes Standard in 2016-17 (the highest proportion of all housing tenures). Meanwhile, 8% of privately rented properties were reported to have some type of damp problem and only 28% of households had a carbon monoxide alarm.
How long do tenants have to wait for repairs to be fixed?
The survey found that 10% of renters have had to wait for more than three months to get 'routine' problems fixed, while around 20% have waited longer than a month.
Ideally, once a problem is reported you should aim to be getting it fixed in a matter of days. Of course, some issues will take longer to remedy but the key is making sure you respond to repairs requests as quickly as possible so you can minimise the amount of time spent between the problem occurring and it being fixed.
The importance of maintaining your tenant relationship
As well as protecting your property, dealing with maintenance and damage as quickly as possible can also have a positive effect on the all-important relationship you have with your tenants.
If tenants know that their landlord deals with problems quickly, they are more likely to report issues as soon as they come across them (and they are more likely to take care of your property as if it is their own).
All of this can help to make sure that any issues that occur in the property don't escalate and end up impacting your tenants satisfaction or end up costing you dearly.
The consequences of poor maintenance
As well as putting the future of your property at risk and in some cases the health and safety of your tenants, there are also legal consequences for failing to deal with maintenance issues properly.
Part of the Housing and Planning Act 2016, local councils are now able to enforce fines of up to £30,000 to private landlords for offences such as failing to comply with an improvement notice.
Issuing these fines does not require a criminal prosecution. If a local authority has enough evidence, they can award a civil penalty without needing to attend court.
In the worst cases of non-compliance landlords can be prosecuted by a local authority, while those operating in an area where there is a landlord licensing scheme are often subject to more stringent regulations.
Letting agents are there to help you
Keeping on top of property maintenance on your own can be a daunting prospect and that's where a good letting agent can help to reduce the strain.
A letting agent can work as a conduit between you and your tenants, helping to open the lines of communication and in turn maximise the opportunity for you to deal with issues as efficiently as possible.
Not only this, they can also use their experience from previous rentals to advise you on the best way to deal with property problems, as well as put you in touch with reputable tradespeople and suppliers that they have worked with before.