Keeping up appearances – rental maintenance07/03/22
There are many advantages to owning a portfolio of property available for rent. It provides a guaranteed income and is a useful long-term investment, with little chance of considerable depreciation. This is certainly largely true of rural properties, which seem to only increase in terms of desirability. But owning a rental portfolio does have its downsides too – not least of which is their upkeep.
If you own several residential properties for rent, there are several typical immediate and long-term repair issues that you must stay on top of. If you break your properties down into key areas, it makes it easier to carry out quick spot-checks on specific issues that could prevail and prove costly, if left alone. A good example is the roof. These are notoriously difficult to keep track of, as they are often inaccessible to most people – unless you’re used to climbing up ladders and over rooftops.
The best guide you’ll often get to a roof’s true condition is by an examination of the loft, attic, eaves or roof space. Exploring these areas will show if any water is penetrating to the roof timbers, via breaks in the lead flashings, the chimney or valley, on a flat felt roof, or because of missing slates or tiles. The first you usually find out about a roof leak is when a damp patch appears on a ceiling inside the property, but by then damage can have been done to the roof timbers. It’s good to check the roof spaces periodically, just for your own assurance that no invisible damage is being done. As well as the roof, other exterior aspects include elements like guttering and drainage, which must be kept free-flowing and clear. Again, they’re not that easy to access, so will need a professional called out to examine them.
It’s important too to keep a check on the interior of a rental property – particularly if the property is between tenants and is left empty for a period. Although it can be costly, it’s useful to leave the heating on if needed, as this helps the system keep running smoothly. This is especially critical in the winter months, when cold and wet weather can cause untold frost and damp damage. It will also prevent interior fixtures and fittings, such as furniture and carpets, from becoming spoiled. Like roof damage, interior damp issues, such as rising damp or mildew, are difficult to spot initially and can become expensive, if they evolve into a long-term issue. As well the heating system, the services and utilities should be tested and checked regularly. This will be part of your letting process, as you have to give assurances to any tenant that the property and its services are safe for habitation.
It can be a time-consuming process to keep track of the ongoing condition of your rental properties, but regular checks are essential. It’s often useful to have a property management expert in charge of these inspections. One of the advantages of engaging a property management firm is that we know what defects and potential problems to look out for, and how best to quickly remedy them. When your rented properties are managed by a professionally qualified agent, they will keep on top of these issues for you and assure you peace of mind. Talk to a member of the Forge team to find out how we can help you.