A large part of the property management role is maintenance, but often, landlords don’t see it as a necessary one. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean that it can be left to the side and not looked at again – by law tenants are entitled to have a safe and habitable living environment, and property maintenance plays a huge part in giving them this. In addition – that investment property is usually your landlord’s biggest asset, and keeping it well maintained will protect the value of that asset! So, we wanted to help you be able to have this important conversation with any of your landlords that may be slacking on their maintenance responsibilities by sharing our top tips on educating your landlords.
#1. UNDERSTAND YOUR LOCAL LAWS
To be able to educate your landlords on property maintenance, it’s important to be working from a solid foundation. And that foundation is with the law. Each state has different statutory laws and maintenance regulations, but they all require landlords to ensure their properties are maintained in good repair. So, start by discussing their legislated responsibilities and reviewing the penalties for failing to meet them.
#2. DISCUSS THE BENEFITS OF PROPERTY MAINTENANCE
Beyond discussing the legal requirement of property maintenance, there are a host of other benefits that you can outline for your landlords that might make them more inclined to want to conduct regular maintenance on their properties.
- By conducting regular maintenance (small fixes, small costs), you can avoid bigger problems further down the line (big fixes, big costs)
- A well maintained property will attract high quality tenants, and keep them on long term, while a property in disrepair may see good tenants wanting to leave, or attract tenants that don’t care for the property either
- Regular maintenance can help increase the value of the investment and its potential rental income
- A well maintained property is likely to be snatched up quickly by quality tenants, so the time between tenancies will be reduced
- Many landlord insurance providers expect homeowners to maintain the property to a certain standard, so regular maintenance may make any claims easier to be approved, as a failure to meet these standards may result in claims being denied
- Avoid lengthy vacancy periods between tenants – the most cost-effective way to conduct maintenance is while the property is occupied and the rent is being paid. If you wait until the property is vacant, you won’t be able to find new tenants until everything is fixed up, and this may make the vacancy period longer
When going through these talking points with your landlords, it can help to have some solid examples from your past experience to support you – any examples where you know regular maintenance could have helped the landlord avoid a costly emergency repair bill, or an instance where the landlord had a long vacancy period between tenants while they saw to lengthy repairs.
It can also help to focus on the positives rather than the negatives. Lower costs of regular maintenance, increased property value, good tenants and so on. The negatives can seem scary and overwhelming to landlords and put them off having the conversation altogether.
#3. MAKE THE PROCESS EASY
Let your landlords know they will benefit from your regular inspections when it comes to maintenance, and outline how easy you will make the process for them by looking for immediate repair issues, as well as future possible maintenance jobs, all while doing your already scheduled property inspection.
This will help you demonstrate how you are protecting their asset and working to uncover any potential issues needing maintenance action before it gets worse. Some Property Managers find it useful to invite their more hands on Landlords along to attend a Routine Inspection, so they can see what you look for and see the property while it is tenanted.
Alternatively, you can suggest to your landlord that you schedule a separate routine maintenance inspection, with them attending on an annual basis, and working with a tradie on a pre-agreed checklist.
The easier the process is for busy landlords, the more likely they are to be on your side when it comes to property maintenance.
Communication is key throughout the process – from making sure your tenants know exactly what is expected of them in regards to maintaining the property in order to get their bond back when they move out, to having the landlord agree on a checklist of maintenance checks to conduct at regular intervals. If problems arise, review your Tenant Onboarding processes and see if you can make things clearer.
Establishing easy ways for tenants to report any issues, checklists and templates to use, and regular communication with the way your landlords prefer to be communicated with (phone, email, text) will make the process a lot smoother for all involved. Real Estate Dynamics’ RED Genuis have a great suite of documentation that could really help.
These few tips should help give you some talking points to have the maintenance discussion with your landlord. To get them on your side, you need to show them you have their best interests at heart and will make the task as simple and routine as possible, at the lowest costs possible, while still protecting their investment.
If you want to learn how to become a quality communicator to really put these tips to test, check out our blog that gives 6 principles that will help with just that.