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Property management tips - how to deal with repairs

03 January 2020

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As a landlord, there may times when you are called upon to carry out repairs. And how you deal with these requests could have a big impact on the happiness of your tenants.

If you respond in good time to their requests, and act in an appropriate and decisive way, any issues with your tenants should be kept to a minimum.

But there may be certain situations which are more complicated and require a more thorough response.

Here, Balgores Property Group takes a closer look at how to successfully deal with repairs before, during and after a tenancy, using our expertise as property managers to offer up some sage advice.

Maintain, maintain, maintain

To attract tenants in the first place, and keep them there for the long-term, it’s vital that you provide a home that is clean, welcoming and well-maintained. It is often a good idea to carry out preventative maintenance to stop minor problems becoming more major ones. You should work with your tenants to identify things that could escalate into bigger problems – such as damp, mould or too many leaves in the gutters – and carry out steps to prevent this.

Similarly, if your home is temporarily empty as you go through a changeover in tenancy, it can be a good idea to visit the property to double check there are no glaring DIY tasks to complete or small maintenance tasks to get done before a tenant moves in. In some cases – a broken shelf, say - you or your tenants may be able to fix the problem, but in other cases you will need to call in the help of the experts.

Your letting agent or property manager will often have existing contact with trusted tradespeople who can fix the problem for a decent price, at short notice. There are some issues that need to be dealt with far more swiftly than others. While a broken shelf can wait, a broken boiler definitely can’t, while any issues with the electrics should be left firmly to the experts.

Hopefully, by maintaining the home regularly, you can prevent any major issues from occurring. If you have a particularly hands-on, practical tenant, you may feel happy to let them take on the responsibilities of small DIY tasks – but make sure the guidelines and criteria on this are crystal clear.

If the problem is a major one – a leak, a broken-down fridge, exposed wires or issues with the roof or structure of the property – you or your letting agent should respond as soon as possible to ensure your home is always fit for human habitation and free of hazards. This is even more important in light of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which was introduced in March this year.

Know your responsibilities

Repairs and maintenance are often the biggest source of tension between landlords and tenants because it’s not always clear who bears responsibility when it comes to fixing issues. Disputes often arise because the tenant expects one thing while the landlord suggests otherwise, with misunderstandings regarding who is liable for what when it comes to rental properties.

This is where a property manager comes in very handy. Here at Balgores, for example, our property management staff are experienced and well-trained to deal with incoming calls. As a result, they can very quickly distinguish between issues that are genuinely the responsibility of the landlord, and those that should be resolved by the tenants.

Often, issues can be resolved over the phone, eradicating the need to call out a contractor – which can prove expensive.

In some scenarios, though, calling out a contractor is unavoidable – but it acts as a massive reassurance if you know the person you are getting is trusted and well-respected rather than a cowboy carrying out shoddy work for sky-high prices. At Balgores, we always call on someone from our approved panel, who has public liability insurance and has proved to us that they offer a high standard of work at a reasonable price.

As a landlord, you or your letting/managing agent will be responsible the lion’s share of repairs in your rental home. This includes dealing with problems related to electrical wiring, gas pipes and boilers, heating and hot water, chimneys and ventilation, sinks, baths, toilets, pipes and drains, common areas including entrance halls and stairways, and the structure and exterior of the building, including walls, stairs and bannisters, roof, external doors and windows.

You may also be required to decorate after the repairs if this is necessary.

How long do you have to make repairs?

You are obliged to carry out the repairs in a reasonable amount of time after you have been informed by your tenant. The amount of time it takes to do so will depend on the severity of the issue.

Tenants have certain responsibilities, too, including keeping the rental home reasonably clean, keeping gardens or outside areas in a good condition, carrying out minor maintenance or DIY tasks such as changing smoke alarm batteries or light bulbs, and conducting safety checks on electrical appliances they own.

What’s more, tenants are responsible for any damage they, their family, pets or guests cause, any minor repairs set out in their tenancy agreement, and fixing appliances or furniture they own

If your tenant has damaged something and you’ve fixed it, you could charge them for this. Equally, you could ask tenants to pay repair costs for blocked pipes, drains or toilets if they haven’t taken reasonable care to keep them free of blockages.

Usually you must provide 24 hours’ written notice ahead of an inspection, but in emergency circumstances this isn’t the case.

It’s also down to your tenants to tell you about any necessary repairs as soon as possible, giving you the information to then take action.

To find out more about the various property management services we offer, from repairs and maintenance through to end of tenancy arrangements, rent arrears management and tenant sourcing, you can read this page for more info or contact us at one of our many branches.

We also offer a repair reporting system to smooth the process between request and repair as much as possible.

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