Rental property maintenance is something that creates pain for landlords all over the country every day of the year...
This article looks at the difference between repairs and improvements, who is responsible, maintenance best practice and, finally, how that pain can be reduced!
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The landlord responsible for all repairs to the property -- internal and external. This is normally set out in the lease. Even if a lease states that the tenant is responsible, this can be overruled by various common and statute laws.
An exception is when you suspect that the tenant has caused the need for a repair by their own negligence. If you can prove this then by all means bill them for the repair.
Repairs differ to improvements in that improvements are additions to the property that are not already there. As a landlord, you're not obliged to make improvements unless stated in the lease.
You might decide to honour small improvement requests but will probably want to graciously decline that request for a new conservatory!
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On 4th January 2009, a new aspect of rental property maintenance was introduced. An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is now required for all let property (there are some exceptions, such as some bedsits and holiday lets).
If your property was let out before 4th January 2009, an EPC is not required until it is re-let. EPCs are valid for 10 years.
Always have some slush funds available in your account for repairs as you never know what will come up.
The very nature of rental property maintenance means that it is hard to know what will break or when... but if you are letting mid- to old-age property, you can normally budget for £600 to £800 of repairs each year.
This can be spread out over the year or can happen in an instant... with those dreaded words from your gas engineer "the boiler needs replaced!".
Some landlords prefer the predictability of landlord maintenance insurance. This also helps them hedge against big expensive repairs.
Most providers will have various levels of cover addressing everything from a broken boiler to a blocked drain or electrical fault.
Some landlord insurance policies have built-in cover for some maintenance issues so check your existing policy before taking out a new one.
Everyone knows someone who has had a terrible landlord who dragged their heels... or even refused to do repairs. And what happened in the end? They moved out!
Don't be that landlord!
It's a false economy -- you'll have high tenant turnover and the associated costs usually outweigh the costs of getting the repairs done. And your property deteriorates.
And your karma suffers!
When your tenants call with repairs, by all means prioritise. If she calls on a Saturday night about a dripping tap, don't get straight on the phone to the 24 hour plumber!
Many tenants prefer to be in when tradesmen call so do try to respect their wishes... however this is sometimes not possible where a tenant insists you send someone round in the evening, as has happened to me before. As a compromise you can offer to accompany the tradesman.
Since 2007, there has been a legal requirement in Scotland for landlords to comply with a minimum "repairing standard". This is set out in a standard letter which must be supplied to and signed by both the tenant and landlord (or agent) at lease signing.