As the owner of an individual investment property or a larger property portfolio in Brisbane or elsewhere, property maintenance is an important issue that you will need to address on a regular basis. Properly maintaining your house, apartment or unit will keep your investment in line with legal requirements, while reducing the chance of costly repairs through neglect.
At Colleen Miles Management Services, we understand that it is important to balance the needs of your rental property with those of your bank balance, with important decisions to be made to make your investment work in your favour. This doesn’t always mean taking the cheapest route, however, as poor maintenance can be the more expensive choice in the long term.
Why Maintain Your Investment Property?
Property owners who let their investment property to tenants have a legal responsibility to keep it in good repair. The law insists that regular maintenance and inspections are carried out on your property to keep it fit for your tenants to enjoy. With property management in Kenmore, Chapel Hill, Indooroopilly and other areas in Brisbane West being our particular specialty, we can emphasise that our somewhat challenging Queensland environment adds a further dimension to the property management and maintenance task. The risk of trees being blown over in storms, inefficient stormwater systems leading to flooding and leaking and the occasional Australian bush critter taking up residency in the shelter of rental property ceilings are an added complication in our locality of the Western Suburbs of Brisbane! We need to be prepared for anything!
Regularly maintaining your property is not only a legal requirement, however: failure to deal with repairs will very likely devalue your property and reduce the amount of rent you are able to charge.
Keeping a property in good repair can cost money, but letting maintenance issues slide can cost you more. Poorly maintained properties develop an air of neglect that makes them less attractive to tenants and often worth less money if you wanted to sell. Neglected properties are more likely to attract tenants who display a similar lack of regard for your investment to your own, failing to keep it clean and not treating your fixtures and fittings with care.
If you choose to have a rental property which allows pets – and let’s face it, Brisbane West is a primarily great family area and families love to have pets – there are considerations about upkeep and maintenance related to keeping, controlling and cleaning up after pets. See our Blog Post “Why Should You Consider Pet Friendly Rentals in Brisbane?” for further details.
A well-presented home that is in good repair, on the other hand, is likely to attract responsible, self-respecting longer-term tenants who will care for your property while they are there. One of the biggest financial dangers to a landlord is a property that is left empty, failing to bring in income while the costs still mount up. Properly maintaining your property increases the chances that it will be chosen as home by desirable tenants in a much shorter time.
So Who Pays for Investment Property Repairs?
So if your property has a problem, where does the responsibility lie? The Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) clearly outlines the tenant and landlord’s roles:
“The property manager/owner or provider is responsible for keeping the property in good condition and fit for the tenant/resident to live in.
The tenant/resident is responsible for looking after the property/room and keeping it clean and free from damage.” (https://www.rta.qld.gov.au/Renting/During-a-tenancy/Maintenance-and-repairs/Whos-responsible-for-repairs)
If the property or fittings are not in good condition or an emergency repair is required, the tenant is expected to inform the landlord or property manager straight away. The tenant is not permitted to carry out any repairs themselves unless specifically permitted by you.
The cost of repairs must be paid by the responsible party, based on the definition above. For example, if the tenant breaks something because of rough treatment, they will be expected to pay, but if the damage is the result of neglect and poor maintenance, the costs must be met by the landlord.
For this reason, it is important to record the condition of your property before your tenants move in and carry out regular inspections to ensure nothing has changed. Keeping a clear and accurate record of any damage or neglect can support your case if you feel the tenant should pay.
Your Responsibilities as a Landlord
Your real estate investment in Brisbane’s West, whether managed by a local Kenmore property management business, a property manager from another suburb or self managed, is subject to a number of legal requirements which protect your tenants as well as your investment itself. For example, landlords are required to ensure smoke alarms are functional at all times by changing the batteries and replacing the alarms before they reach the end of their life. It is also your responsibility to ensure that repairs are carried out before they present a danger to your tenants.
While regular maintenance is not a legal requirement, it makes sound business sense because it reduces the risk of emergency repairs, which can be costly and must be addressed as soon as you are made aware. If you fail to carry out repairs, tenants are permitted to hire tradesmen to complete the work at a cost of up to two weeks’ rent, which you must then repay within 7 days.
Emergency repairs include serious water leaks or leaks in the roof, address gas leaks or flood or fire damage and any damage or fault that makes the property unsafe. As a property owner, it is useful to familiarise yourself with the full list of which circumstances require emergency repairs and carry out routine maintenance to prevent these happening wherever you can.
How Else Can You Keep Costs Down?
While it may seem prudent to reduce your overheads on your real estate investment property, regular maintenance is the easiest way to avoid expensive repairs that require a large investment at one time. Regular inspections are another way to ensure your property stays in good repair.
A regular tenancy inspection should be standard practice for a landlord, demonstrating you care for your property and giving you the opportunity to identify maintenance issues before they get out of hand. If you hire a property manager to deal with your property day-to-day, these inspections will be carried out on your behalf. At Colleen Miles Management Services, we carry out inspections every 3 to 4 months and address small maintenance requirements on your behalf.
Annual inspections by a registered and licensed builder can also catch major issues before they cost you a small fortune, as can termite inspections which can stop this destructive pest from taking a hold on your property.
Property Management and Maintenance Simply Makes Sense
As the owner of a Western Brisbane real estate investment, regular property maintenance can help to keep your business afloat, avoiding expensive surprises that interrupt your cash flow and potentially cause good tenants to leave.
If you’d like to know how engaging a property manager can reduce the amount of effort you need to invest in maintaining your property, please get in touch at any time. We’ll be happy to help.