It always bemuses me when landlords let their multi-million dollar assets get into, and remain, in such poor state of repairs. Nowhere have I seen this more than in Macau. One of the most important responsibilities of landlords with ‘buy-to-let’ properties is maintenance. Be it an apartment, shop, office or industrial building, the property must be in a condition that does not put the tenants at risk of injury or illness. Poor landlords seem to believe that maintenance is a cost and nothing more. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are five benefits from keeping buy-to-let property in good condition.
Early maintenance avoids expensive repairs later
Tenants are obliged to report maintenance issues as soon as possible. It’s important that landlords don’t ignore them, and deal with them quickly. Of course, the tenants get the immediate benefit, but the landlord gets a much more valuable benefit. The old adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ comes to mind …. the longer you leave things unrepaired, the bigger and more expensive a minor maintenance issue becomes. It’s not rocket science but just plain common sense to keep on top of maintenance issues. Fix small problems now so that they don’t have to become major issues later. Maintenance costs never get cheaper; the cost of fixing things before they get out of hand will be smaller and can be spread over a longer period of time.
Good maintenance keeps great tenants for longer.
One of the aims of a buy-to-let landlord should be to keep the best tenants for longer. Fewer void periods will be suffered by doing so. Rent will be paid in time, and the property is cared for better. One of the key ways to keep great tenants for longer is to ensure the property is well maintained. Happy tenants are the best tenants. And when a landlord maintains the property well, the tenants tend to also take better care of the place, thereby reducing preparation time between tenants. Remember, void periods cost much more than minor maintenance and repairs.
Well maintained properties are worth more
In the long run, properties in good condition tend to increase more in value. They are more appealing to viewers, and so command a higher rent, too. Higher sale prices and higher rental income – simply by keeping on top of maintenance issues.
Properties in good condition help landlords avoid being sued
If your tenant has an accident or becomes ill because of neglect on your part, you could be sued. That loose fitting carpet that was reported two weeks ago that you haven’t got round to repairing? If the tenant trips on it, breaks their leg, and can’t work for a couple of months, you could be liable. And you could be sued. Poor maintenance could cost you hundreds of thousands.
Keep up maintenance and keep a good reputation as a landlord
In Macau we don’t have what many countries have, and that is a Rogue Landlord database. This works much the same as a Tenancy database, which is a list where landlords/agents record personal information about tenants who previously have had problems with their tenancies, thereby helping landlords and agents decide if prospective tenants are likely to fall behind on rent or damage the property. In England, for example, the Rogue Landlord database ‘names and shames’ landlords that fail to keep their properties in safe, and good condition. On the other hand, Macau is small and word among real estate practitioners passes swiftly – so an uncaring landlord that keeps their property in poor condition and their tenants feeling ignored, frustrated and unhappy, will get around quickly. Plus of course, there’s always the power of social media.
In summary, a call to all landlords …. keep on top of maintenance issues when they happen. Your tenants will be glad you do, and so will your pocket!