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Every landlord understands that ongoing maintenance is a part of investing in a buy to let property, but there’s no fixed timescale in terms of when you should carry out redecoration or which maintenance tasks should be a priority. 

Keeping your property in good shape will help you retain tenants or find new tenants quickly when existing occupants leave, as well as increasing its rental value. In this article, we’ll look at a few essential tips for landlords to bear in mind for effective property management.


Minimise admin and repeat tasks

If you have multiple properties, you’ll know that maintaining them all can be a challenge. So, it’s important to establish simple but effective systems early on so you’re never without the information you need for each rental property. This includes using easy-fill forms for tenants, having checklists in place that will help you keep track of what needs to be inspected, and minimising administration.

Property management software can help you keep everything in one place and minimises the amount of time you’ll need to spend dealing with paperwork. Before your tenants move in, it can also be helpful to stock up on things that might need to be replaced, such as showerheads, lightbulbs and air filters, so that they have what they need in the right size. This helps to keep the property in a good condition and shows your tenants that you’re committed to keeping the property in check. 


Avoid drainage issues

It’s worth checking the exterior of the property itself, such as keeping an eye on roofing tiles and ensuring that the guttering is free from leaves or blockages so that water doesn’t build up and cause issues.  

Southern Sheeting explains that the right guttering can help alleviate any potential damage – “when the weather is bad, you may find that if your guttering isn’t up to scratch, the rain will run down the side of the property and cause a lot of damage over time. For this reason, it’s a great idea to install metal guttering into your property as this means you will know it will be protected”. This doesn’t only prevent problems for your tenants but also keeps your investment in the best condition for as long as possible. 


Maintain fire alarm systems

Landlords are legally required to follow strict fire safety regulations for privately let properties. This includes providing a smoke alarm on each storey of the property, as well as carbon monoxide alarms in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance, such as a coal fire.  

Landlords need to make sure there are clear escape routes for tenants at all times and that any furniture or furnishings that are supplied to occupants are fire safe. If the house is a larger property and has multiple tenants, you need to ensure that there are extinguishers supplied. 

Get regular electrical checks

Part of making sure the property is fire safe is checking the electrical wiring, sockets and fuse boxes are all safe throughout the tenancy too. The legislation around this was updated in June 2020, requiring landlords to have electrical installations checked every five years and to supply a copy of the electrical safety report to tenants. Mandatory electrical inspections need to be carried out by a licensed, qualified professional every five years unless a report from an inspection indicates that it needs to be carried out sooner.  

After the inspections have been completed, landlords have to get a report from the individual who carried out the checks and supply a copy of the report to each tenant in the property within 28 days of the inspection. They also need to supply a copy to the local housing authority within 7 days of receiving a request from the authority and retain a copy for the person who carries out the next inspection and testing. The goal of these electrical checks is to identify any fire hazards and electric shock risks, detect a lack of earthing or bonding in the wiring, check for defective electrical work, and pinpoint any overloading in the circuits. 


Build good relationships with tradespeople

Many tasks you will be able to carry out yourself. But whether the property is empty at the moment and you’re making use of the time to renovate, or you have tenants who have spotted an issue, it can be incredibly useful to know people who you can call on to carry out the work to a high standard. This is particularly true if you’re a long-distance landlord and don’t live close by.  

Get to know established tradespeople in your area who have a good reputation and are reliable, as being on good terms with people can help when it comes to negotiating a price and also helps if you have an emergency and need help at short notice. It’s a benefit to both parties, as you’ll also be able to provide them with repeat business. 


Check smoke detectors

Landlords should always be mindful of having checked the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in any property they let out, to make sure they’re working correctly and have fresh batteries in them. Before a property is let out to new tenants, do a check through the property and ensure there are working detectors in each room, and have them checked regularly each year for your, and your tenants’, peace of mind.


Prune trees and clear garden waste

If your property has an outdoor space attached, your tenant will most likely be responsible for maintenance. But larger projects like cutting back trees or removing larger plants and bushes will be the landlord’s responsibility. As any good landlord knows, the exterior of the property is just as important as what’s inside, so checking the garden or patio area is a good use of time.  

Before the colder seasons hit, it’s always a good idea to prune trees back as heavy snow and ice can weigh down unstable branches and increase the chance of them breaking or causing damage to the property. It’s also worthwhile checking that any outbuildings like sheds or garages are maintained, and haven’t incurred any damage, as these can be a safety hazard if left unrepaired. Make sure the lawn is weed-free, that flowerbeds have been mulched and that patio areas have been swept.


Inspect shower caulk and grouting

Bathrooms are an area of the property that will be used on a daily basis, so it’s no surprise that they can be one of the quickest rooms to show signs of wear and tear. In particular, caulking around the shower cubicle or bathtub and grouting on tiles can become stained and mouldy if not cleaned thoroughly.  

A simple but worthwhile task as part of your maintenance checks is to freshen up the caulking around these areas to prevent leaks or drips when the tenant is using the facilities. Likewise, cleaning the grout to remove marks and staining will give your bathroom a new lease of life with minimal effort.


Invest in a deep clean

Tenants are expected to maintain the property to an acceptable standard, but landlords can only expect them to keep it as clean and tidy as they found it when they first moved in. Even with the best intentions though, there’s a risk that they won’t be able to leave the property in a professional standard that you’d want for your next tenants.  

For this reason, it’s worth investing in a professional deep clean of the entire property so that you can be sure it’s in an appropriate state when your next tenants move in. It inspires confidence for them that they’re moving into a well-maintained property but it also sets the right standard for them throughout their tenancy. A professional cleaning company will tackle all areas of the property, from bathrooms and bedrooms to every crevice of the kitchen, so you can be completely sure that your tenants are moving into a clean and hygienic property.

If a tenant has left the property in a poor, uncleansy state, landlords are possibly entitled to hold back some of the deposit for the property that was taken when the let was first agreed.


Handle any pest issues

Pest infestations can devalue your property considerably, so controlling them is an essential element of maintaining a clean and hygienic rental property for your tenants. Any pest infestation is the responsibility of the landlord, so consider hiring a pest control professional to tackle the issue if you’ve noticed any bugs, insects or rodents to make sure that the property is completely pest-free. It’s an issue that’s best handled by a professional for a thorough sweep of the whole property.


Final thoughts

Property management is an ongoing process, but you want to ensure your investment is well-taken care of. Staying ahead of potential issues by stocking up on necessary supplies, maintaining the exterior of the property and keeping the property safe from the risk of damage can all help reduce the need for time-consuming or expensive repairs in the future. But property management is as much about good communication and building relationships as it is about forward-planning.

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