Hawke's Bay Property Investors' Association

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Planning your maintenance

Your property is a major asset, and like any asset it is in your own best interests to maintain it well and so preserve and enhance its value.

Also, legally landlords are required provide and maintain their rental properties in a reasonable state of repair. Regular maintenance isn’t just about avoiding costly repairs but also ensuring a pleasant living environment for the tenants. Happy tenants stay longer.

Some rental maintenance issues, such as leaky plumbing, can’t be anticipated or avoided. Other issues can be addressed before they become serious problems by following a regular maintenance schedule.

During property inspections many of the small items that will require maintenance, repair, or in some cases replacement can be picked up. Generally, it is better to get these items rectified as soon as you can – most problems will be easier and less expensive to fix as early as possible. Ignore them and small issues then become big problems and the cost will mount.

Even if you have passed over management of your property to a Property Manager it is good practice to arrange to accompany them on at least one of their regular inspections each year. Check both the inside and the outside of the property and, if possible, get some idea of the condition of the roof. Cast your eyes around the grounds and look hard at driveways, parking areas and even the letterbox.

Rental property maintenance requires year-round vigilance, representing a significant amount of time and money. Determining how much money to allocate for rental property maintenance expenses can be tricky.
Some professional property managers use what they call the 1% Rule: One percent of the total property value would be set aside to spend on rental maintenance expenses. By this rule, a rental property valued at $600,000 would have a $6,000 annual budget for maintenance expenses. However, this blanket rule makes no allowance for the age of the property (older properties tend to require more maintenance), type of construction or environmental exposure.

A rental maintenance budget can also depend on whether a landlord opts to personally do most of the maintenance or employ maintenance professionals.

It can be a useful aide-memoire to diarise any regular maintenance requirements such as filter cleaning, chimney sweeping and exterior house washing so that these can be scheduled in and included within your budget.

You should also be prepared for occasional large maintenance costs - replacing the roof or repainting the exterior.
Many experienced landlords have a standby revolving credit facility available to allow for any substantial and costly maintenance items.
If you wish to use for this option, make the arrangements with your bank well before you need the facility, when times are good.

The reality is, in property ownership, maintenance is all part of the package. Money has to be spent. To maintain both the value of your property and the rent it attracts there is no avoiding that cost.