Tamara Price, Lettings Manager, provides 6 tips to help landlords keep maintenance costs to a minimum while ensuring their investment remains safe and in great condition...
More often than not investing in a buy-to-let property proves to be an incredibly financially sound long-term venture, but only if the landlord takes a sensible approach and ensures the property remains in a great condition for their tenants. One thing that will almost certainly eat into a portion of the profits from time to time is maintenance, but there is no getting away from it's importance and short-cut solutions are never a good bet. It may be weeks, months or years down the line when the first costly maintenance issue rears its head, so being well-prepared for when the time does arrive is key.
Finding the right balance between minimising costly outgoings and ensuring the property is kept in a sound condition can be tricky for many landlords. That's why having some sort of plan in place can at least help a landlord save money in the longterm without neglecting the importance of regular upkeep.
It's all well and good being told you should have a plan of sorts in place, but where should a landlord begin when it comes to piecing together a plan to minimise maintenance costs on a buy-to-let-property?
Hopefully these tips will answer just that.
During the buying process make sure you're carrying out an adequate homebuyers survey so that you can uncover any potential costly issues as soon as possible, or even consider another property if something serious is revealed. Failing to get the property checked out to the correct level of detail means running the risk of unexpectedly coming across expensive maintenance issues further down the line.
Not exactly straight-forward, but using a reputable letting agent to source tenants for you will at least mean a great deal of leg-work is done to ensure your tenants do tick all of the right boxes in terms of the type of tenants you're looking for, income to cover rental costs, reference checks etc. This will go a long way towards vastly increasing your chances of finding tenants who will respect your property during their tenancy and treat it the correct way.
It's a tough dilemma for landlords in many situations and may come down to the target market you're trying to attract to your property, whereas other times the decision may appear clear and obvious. Needless to say, if you do decide to let your property unfurnished, there will of course be far less upkeep over the years as you won't have to repair or replace furniture and other items that you may have typically provided.
Although as stated, you do need to weigh up the pros and cons as soon as possible and decide which option is likely to be best suited to your target tenants - you don't want to consistently face lengthy void periods between tenancies just because you thought it was a good idea to save on furnishing costs.
Check other similar properties on the rental market located in your area to gauge price differences between furnished and unfurnished and to see if there is an obvious preference from other local landlords.
Conducting a full inventory both before and after a tenancy will mean if the property or items within it show signs of damage (not to be mistaken for general wear and tear) or are missing come the end of the tenancy, the tenants will be liable to cover those costs, rather than you having to cover the cost of repairs or replacements yourself.
A common misconception is that an inventory only provides a form of landlord cover for fixtures and fittings, but it can also protect structural aspects of your investment such as flooring, windows, the state of the walls and ceilings etc.
There's no need to check in on the property every month as that will simply annoy your tenants, but it's certainly important to do so once or twice a year and should be included in your tenancy agreement so that it's made clear from the outset when inspections should occur. Your tenants should be more than happy for you to inspect the property for potential issues that need rectifying every now and then - if they're not this could raise a red flag and you should question if they are suitable tenants for your property.
If you work with a letting agency they can carry out regular inspections on your behalf so any expensive or serious maintenance issues can be tackled as soon as possible.
If you're not familiar with a newly discovered maintenance issue or are unable to easily rectify it yourself, if it's recurring (think damp walls) or if it's a maintenance issue that's worse than you might've thought after inspecting it yourself, don't hesitate - get specialists in to carry out the correct survey. This will allow you to quickly find out the cause of the problem, what the solution is, how much it will cost and how long it'll take to rectify. It could be a case of the longer you leave it the worse it becomes and the harder it hits you in the pocket.
If you're a landlord in Cardiff keen to invest in the property market then please do consider contacting our expert team here at CPS Homes for assistance and advice. With a range of property management services, suitable properties on the market across all of Cardiff and expert knowledge on the buy-to-let market, we're positive we can make the very best of your investment. Contact us by calling 02920 668585, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into one of our three branches.