It is the question all landlords ask themselves whenever work is required on their rental properties: To what standard should this be done?
There is a general understanding that as a landlord you want to keep costs down so that you are making a profit from your investment. However, you also want the job done well enough so that it lasts, and you are not paying repeatedly for the same thing.
It’s all about balancing the needs of your tenants and your responsibilities as a landlord to provide a safe property for rent, with your requirement to make a profit. There are some essential things you need to do to comply with the law, such as keeping up gas and electricity safety checks. As well as being a legal requirement, regular checks can also flag up potential problems and stop repairs from sneaking up on you. This allows you to budget accordingly. It is wise to set aside a proportion of your rental income each month to cover repairs and maintenance as they come up and then you will not need to find the money from your own funds.
Keeping your property properly maintained can also help to preserve its value should you ever come to sell it. Depending on how long you have the property, you may also need to think about updating or replacing fixtures, such as the bathroom and kitchen. Generally, since you are not living in the property yourself, when replacing these items you are likely to choose a cheaper option than you would for your own home. However, balance is key again. If you choose something cheap in price and quality, you may end up spending more in the long run since it is not built to last and you will find yourself repairing or replacing more regularly.
Of course, nobody expects a landlord to fit a top of the range kitchen with high end appliances in a rental property, but something clean, neutral and built to last will show tenants that you are prepared to invest in the property and make it a nice place to live. This is important to consider, that while as a landlord you are hoping for tenants who will enjoy living in your property, take care of it and pay their rent on time, tenants are also hoping for a landlord who will address problems quickly and if the property is in a generally good state of repair, this will put a tenant’s mind at ease.
Try to keep things simple and manageable. Carry out a regular property inspection to identify current or potential future issues.
Unfortunately, you cannot always rely on a tenant to tell you about something until it becomes urgent. Urgency can often mean costly, for example if a leaky tap suddenly becomes worse and you need to call out an emergency plumber there will be costs before any work has even been done. However, if you had got a plumber in to fix the leaky tap when it was just a slow drip, the work would be planned in, so no call-out fee, and is also likely to be a smaller and more straightforward job, therefore cheaper.
In summary, make sure you have the balance right between meeting your responsibilities as a landlord, making your property attractive to tenants and turning a profit. Keep on top of the maintenance needs of your property with a regular property inspection and set aside some of your rental income to cover the cost of any required maintenance as and when it arises.