Now the cold winter months are behind us and the sun has finally started to shine, it's time to give your rental property an 'M.O.T.' (to keep M.aintenance O.n T.rack), say the exper...
Now the cold winter months are behind us and the sun has finally started to shine, it's time to give your rental property an 'M.O.T.' (to keep M.aintenance O.n T.rack), say the experts at Belvoir.
“Spring is a great time to give your rental property a once over,” explains owner of Belvoir Liverpool West Derby Adam Rastall. “Jobs can mount up over the long winter months and even small issues can escalate into large problems if left unresolved for too long.”
In order to assess your property's maintenance needs it's important to pay it a visit. Organise with your tenant a convenient time for an inspection and request their observations in advance so you have a 'snagging list' to work from. Also, create your own ticklist of things to look out for, both large and small.
“During your spring 'M.O.T.' look out for deterioration which could have occurred during the cold spell,” says Adam. “When you arrive at the property inspect the walls to ensure pointing hasn't deteriorated in the winter frosts.
“Check the woodwork too. Is it still sound, and free from peeling paint and rot? If not, spring is the perfect season to re-paint or re-varnish outdoor woodwork, such as doors, door frames and windows.”
It's important to check your guttering and roof too, says Adam.
“In the winter, debris, such as leaves, can gather in guttering so check yours carefully to make sure they are clear. Although we may be heading towards some better weather, the odd summer shower will still probably be on the forecast and blocked guttering can cause rainwater to overspill down the fabric of the building and create damp.
“Look up at the roof. Are there any gaps that indicate tiles may have been blown off during the winter winds, or are there any loose tiles that could pose a danger to your tenant or others? And are the chimney pots free from cracks or storm damage?
“During the visit, make sure you head into the loft too. Can you see daylight? And are the timbers structurally sound with no evidence of recent wood beetle activity?”
Refresh and renew... in the garden
As the sun comes out, so do the weeds – so it's important to put some prevention processes in place in preparation for the forthcoming sunny season.
“Ensuring that borders are tightly packed with bedding plants will help in the fight against weeds,” says owner of Belvoir Portsmouth Samantha Bateman. “Also renewing some of the gravel that has thinned out over the winter will give paths and driveways an instant uplift, plus help prevent weeds spreading throughout the summer.”
Have you got problem ivy? If left, ivy can spread a large distance and become a nuisance... very quickly!
“Ivy can penetrate walls, suffocate other plants, trees and shrubs, plus clog drains and guttering,” says Samantha. “Make sure it is always well cut back or removed from the garden entirely. Another thing to look out for is destructive Japanese Knotweed – if there is any evidence of this you should have it dealt with immediately.
“I also usually recommend that large trees and bushes are trimmed back before they start to flower. An overgrown tree or bush which isn't maintained can do serious damage, not only to the garden but to the house too.”
Look at some of the structural elements of the outside space also, says Samantha.
“Are your boundary fences and walls still structurally sound and free from rot following the wet and windy season? And does the outdoor wood, such as fence panels and posts, need re-treating to maximise its lifespan moving forward?”
As part of your spring 'M.O.T.', take the opportunity to brief your tenant on what ongoing maintenance will need doing in the garden through the coming summer months too.
Create a summer schedule
Ask your tenant when they are planning to have their summer holiday, so you can organise in advance large indoor maintenance tasks to coincide with the property being vacant. This will give trades people unlimited access and minimise disruption for your tenant.
“Your tenant's summer holiday is a great opportunity for you to get on top of indoor maintenance,” says owner of Belvoir Birmingham Central Major Mahil. “This is especially important if your tenants hold a long-term contract and therefore you don't get the opportunity to modernise, update or maintain between tenants exiting and entering, or if you're hoping to turn your investment into a sales opportunity in the coming months.
“Start planning this summer's schedule now so there's plenty of time for you to commission your preferred workpeople in advance, or book time off work if you are planning to do the jobs yourself.
“Great jobs to tackle when the property is vacant include decorating, damp treatment, garden landscaping, carpet and flooring changes and updating kitchens and bathrooms.”
M.oney O.n T.rack
Give your finances a 'M.O.T.' too to make sure your M.oney is O.n T.rack. Is it time for a rent increase? Could you benefit from a remortgage? Are you getting the best value for money from your insurance policy and other packages you may have?
“Reviewing your finances should be an ongoing process but, if you haven't done this for a while, make sure you do it now,” says owner of Belvoir Melton Mowbray and Belvoir Bingham Charlotte Baker.
“Check that there isn't an opportunity to improve on the mortgage package you've currently got, plus check your insurance policy to ensure you've got the best cover for your needs and it is competitively priced.
“Also consider whether you are getting value for money from any packages you may have, such as boiler cover etc, and if you still need them. For example, if you've recently replaced your boiler and it has its own manufacturer's warranty, you may be paying for something you no longer need.
“As managing agents we annually review the rent for our landlords,” continues Charlotte. “If you don't have an agent and are self-managing your property, then it is advisable that you do this too.
“If your tenant has been in the property for more than a year, and you haven't already done it, you should compare the current level of rent they're paying to what similar properties are fetching.
“The first question you should ask yourself is, 'if my property came on the market for re-let today would I be able to ask a higher rent for it?' If you think you could, then consider suggesting to your tenant a moderate increase so it doesn't fall too far behind its current market value.”