Properties are very expensive and sometimes difficult to maintain. As a very general rule of them you should set aside at least 5% of your rent for repairs.
To keep a property looking at its best, you’ll probably have to redecorate at least once every five years and you should plan to refurbish bathrooms and kitchens every 10 years.
You’ll also need to shell out money every year for routine repairs as the landlord, not the tenant, is responsible for the upkeep of the fabric of the building, including the roof, the sanitary ware, the boiler and central heating system and usually (although not always) appliances.
Arranging repairs is probably one of the most stressful elements of running a rental business, especially if you don’t have a plumber, electrician, builder and odd job outfit at your disposal.
Some landlords choose to pay a letting agent or separate management company to keep an eye on their properties and take care of any maintenance issues. An agent who has found you a tenant will usually charge an additional 2% to 5% of the annual rent to manage the property, which isn’t a lot, but they’ll also add up to 20% to the cost of any repairs they carry out. Management companies usually charge a flat rate annual fee.
Using a third party to manage your property is a good option if you don’t live close to your rental or if you’re too busy to arrange repairs yourself, but I found that even when I lived in another country, it wasn’t hard to arrange repairs over the phone or online using websites like mybuilder.com and checkatrade to find reliable plumbers, electricians etc. However, I was dependent on the tenant providing access and also checking the work to make sure it was carried out correctly – which they didn’t always do.
Whether you use a third party to take care of your property or manage it yourself, you do need to make sure regular inspections are carried out and that essential repairs are done quickly. While agents will usually inspect your property at least once a year, management companies often don’t include this as part of their service so check before you hire them.
I’d say it’s important your property is inspected at least once every six months to make sure there are no maintenance issues and also that the tenant is taking care of the place. You need to check for signs of damp, mould, leaks and general disrepair. You’d think a tenant would let you know if there were any problems but you can’t rely on this, it’s always better to visit your property yourself as no-one will ever care about it as much as you do.
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