Being an excellent property manager who is referred to other landlords takes doing more than just leasing their property, collecting the rent, conducting routine inspections and responding to repairs and maintenance requests from tenants. Protecting a landlord’s asset is about being proactive. This article explains why and provides some tips to make it easy.
Too many property managers spend their days ticking boxes, to-do lists and putting out fires (being reactive rather than proactive). Granted, property management is an exceptionally busy role. But the truth is, it doesn’t have to take any longer to be proactive, especially when you have the know-how and the right tools available to simplify the process.
A common question we hear is: why be proactive rather than just wait till a tenant requests maintenance? Wouldn’t the landlord be annoyed at the prospect of having to spend more money if they don’t have to?
The answer is that being proactive in property management is about helping a landlord future-proof their asset and minimise risk. By ‘future-proofing the asset’ we mean ensuring the property is maintained to a high standard and improved over time. When a property is well-maintained and presented, it attracts and keeps the best tenants, ensures they are safe and maximises both ongoing return on investment (as vacancies are minimised) and long-term capital growth (because regular maintenance keeps the property in good order so it stands the test of time). A poorly maintained property, on the other hand, is much harder to rent, rents for less and gives tenants a reason to leave.
Many tenants are actually hesitant when it comes to reporting issues with the property they are renting because they are worried that it may reflect negatively on them. This may be due to a negative experience in the past or what others have told them. Failure to report a maintenance issue is not only negligent, it can be downright dangerous. Imagine if a tenant didn’t report that the gutters are clogged with leaves or that tree branches are overhanging the roof and bushfire and storm season kicks in. Or what if they don’t report a broken latch on a pool fence or a slip issue due to mould on the pathway to the property. Not only can such issues pose a risk to the property, they could also present a danger to tenants and visitors to the property, which could result in tragedy and have legal ramifications for the landlord and/or the agency.
Rather than simply responding to requests for maintenance and repairs from the tenant, a better way is to proactively work with the landlord to create a property improvement plan designed to future-proof their investment and maximise their return. Furthermore, costs are often reduced because when you are on top of maintenance, things are less likely to break down. It’s like a car. Fail to service it regularly and it is more likely that something major will go wrong, especially the older it gets.
Tips to be proactive in property management
- Be observant during routine inspections – look out for potential future maintenance jobs like painting, roof restoration, slippery paths and driveways, fences that are beginning to deteriorate, etc. and make a note of those in your inspection reports, remembering to take photos as evidence as you go. Use technology such as InspectSafe and Maintenance Manager so they can be reported in the app and automatically deferred to at a later date.
- Schedule routine tasks such as termite and smoke alarm inspections annually.
- Offer a safety inspection to every landlord once a year using Australia’s leading property safety inspection service, PropertySafe, to highlight issues to be addressed and recommend the best action to take for peace of mind.
- Be pre-emptive by instructing trades to check other things while at the property, e.g. if a plumber is repairing one tap, ask them to check all other taps in the property for leaks while on the premises.
- Look for ways to add value to a property and suggest those to your landlord, ensuring you include how those additions/changes could attract better tenants and more rent (not to mention the benefits for long-term capital growth). Examples include installing a split system air conditioner, a dishwasher, a fresh coat of paint in a modern neutral colour palette, installing new window treatments or energy efficient lights etc.
Let technology do the heavy lifting
Technology helps make being proactive quick and easy, using tools like Maintenance Manager (free to your office if you recommend landlords have an annual safety inspection carried out with PropertySafe). If you also use Console Cloud in your office, it is even easier with Maintenance Pro.
Less admin means more time focusing on looking after your landlords and tenants and growing your rent roll. Call 1300 155 888 AU or 09 887 3299 NZ for an obligation free demonstration of Maintenance Manager.