If you are one of the many landlords who dream about getting extra hours in their day, we’ve got a post for you here on how to save time on property maintenance. These simple tips can help save you a whole lot of time managing the maintenance for your property empire.
Property maintenance is an important part of being a landlord and since the Homes Fitness for Human Habitation act came in it’s little wonder that this is the top thing keeping landlords awake at night.
If time isn’t a problem, but money is, check out our recent post on money saving property maintenance tips.
Now, without further ado, here’s how to save time on property maintenance:
1. Buy the right property in the first place
This tip might be redundant if your portfolio is already up and running and you don’t intend to buy more properties, but it helps to do your due diligence before you buy.
Make sure you have an in-depth survey carried out by a reputable surveyor this will identify any issues you should know about before purchase. But don’t just rely on the survey, ask yourself questions that a surveyor may not necessarily answer:
- What condition is the heating system in and does it look like it will need replacing soon?
- Is the property in a good neighbourhood?
- Are there outbuildings that will require extra maintenance?
- If the property has a garden is it easy to care for and suitable for your target tenants?
If you do your due diligence before buying a property, you’re more likely to find one that doesn’t require constant maintenance and that will save you a lot of time in the long run.
2. Screen tenants
Sure, every landlord does this (hopefully), but some do it more thoroughly than others. Managing properties is hard enough without inviting in a tenant who causes property damage. Not only will this cost you a lot of money but fixing the damage is a huge time sink that can be avoided by finding the right tenant.
Make sure your screening process is robust, follow up on references and interview the tenant. If you don’t have time to screen your tenants properly find a professional company to help you. It is a worthwhile investment to avoid the nightmares and time sapping powers of rogue tenants.
3. Act on maintenance issues as soon as you are aware of them
When an issue is reported don’t ignore it, chances are it will get worse and then it will cost you more time and money to put right. Encourage tenants to report issues as and when they happen.
Make sure tenants know how and when to report an issue. When your tenants move in, explain to them how you deal with property maintenance. Some tenants are reluctant to report damage as they’re afraid they’ll be charged or blamed for the damage. You can head this off at the pass. Tell tenants that sometimes things go wrong with the property and that you are prepared for this. Explain your maintenance process to them and assure them you want to keep the property in good condition. Give tenants a way to report issues promptly. This will save you time and money in the long run as a tenant will be more likely to report the issue straight away.
4. Have a process in place for managing maintenance issues
No one likes the word process, it’s boring and makes you think of corporate offices with their endless policies. However, the job of a good process is to save time.
A process doesn’t have to be written down if you aren’t working with others, it can be just a way of dealing with things that you remember and implement when it’s needed. So, when a tenant reports an issue you don’t spend any time thinking about what to do, you already know. The process could be something as simple as: tenant reports issue –> landlord contacts correct professional to relay issue –> landlord contacts tenant to let them know when professional will attend –> professional reports to landlord who pays invoice.
If you’re using property management software the process element can be baked into your way of working. For example, a tenant can report an issue digitally, this issue appears in your software. You can save the issue as a task and send it on to any of the tradespeople you’ve saved in the software. Once the issue is dealt with you can file away their invoice and any images they send you of the repair. With just a few clicks you can follow a smooth process and everything is documented along the way.
The idea of removing micro decisions from your day to improve productivity is a common one among entrepreneurs. It’s one of those things that really does work to free up more time.
5. Build relationships with good tradespeople
It’s hard to find a good and reliable tradesperson that charges a reasonable rate. Instead of looking them up when you have an issue, build relationships with them, keep their details, remember their names, send them a Christmas card, follow them on social media. Whatever you do, hang on to the good ones and you’ll save yourself a lot of time in the future.
6. Get your tenants involved in property maintenance
It’s surprising that landlords don’t use their tenants to help them more. I’m not suggesting that the tenant should manage their own property, but if you trust your tenant requesting their help can save you a lot of time.
Ask tenants to carry out checks for you, for instance pre-winter checks. This means you only have to write down a set of instructions and pass it on rather than doing 12 house visits to check for lagged pipes etc. Ask the tenant to send you pictures of anything that fails a check and then arrange maintenance where needed. This is a huge time saver and can save you money as well.
Remember that tenants have skills too and they might be willing to strike up a deal with you to share those skills. For instance, if you’ve got a painter and decorator living at the property maybe give them permission to decorate in neutral shades and offer to pay for the paint. If they’re good at what they do and you get on with them, strike up a deal for regular decorating work. If you’ve got tenants who work in marketing get their advice on advertising your rental properties, bookkeepers can give financial advice and help, the list goes on. Who said trade was dead!?
7. Carry out regular maintenance checks to spot issues before they become issues
I mentioned this in the previous point, but you should be checking your properties for maintenance issues especially before the seasons change. If you notice issues, it’s easier to sort them out before those who aren’t as prepared as you also need the same kind of help! It takes 5 minutes to arrange for someone to go and lag pipes at your rental property, it takes months to return a property to normal after a pipe bursts. It’s a no brainer. A little preparedness can save a lot of time.
8. Buy property insurance
There are lots of insurance products out there for landlords, some are better than others. I won’t go into this in great detail as we ran a long post a while ago on finding the right insurance policy.
Insurance won’t help you on the day to day maintenance of properties, but if you have a fire or an escape of water or any other disaster it will pay for itself. Added extras like boiler cover and rental payment protection will also take the pressure off should disaster fall. In the event you need to make a claim, the insurance company will usually source replacements and organise tradespeople to rectify the damage. All the hard work is done for you and this saves a lot of time in the direst of situations.
9. Invest in warranties to help with white and brown good maintenance
This feeds into the previous point, but if you’re buying appliances for a property it makes sense to invest in a warranty, especially for things like ovens, fridges and larger appliances. Warranties don’t usually cost a lot and ensure that should something go wrong with the appliance you can have a repair or replacement. These save time because it’s usually the warranty company that sources and arranges the repair or replacement.
10. Buy quality products because they require less maintenance
It’s tempting to buy cheap products, after all you aren’t made of money! But it’s a fool’s game. Usually cheap products break faster, in the long run that will cost you in time and money. If you have a quality fridge it can last upwards of 10 years, compare that to a cheaper fridge that dies after 2 years. Keep replacing the fridge with cheaper models and that’s 5 fridges instead of one that lasts 10 years. If you don’t have a warranty you’ll end up having to source and arrange a replacement for 5 fridges as opposed to one.
So those are our tips for saving time on property maintenance, how do you save time on property maintenance? Let us know in the comments.
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