The Frugal Landlord: Reducing Maintenance Overheads

As a landlord, you want your property rental business to run as smoothly as possible, and avoid any unexpected costly surprises along the way. One unfortunate overhead that plagues every landlord are maintenance costs. They cannot be avoided, and really can cost an arm and a leg when something drastic goes wrong. Imagine burst water pipes flooding the ground floor of a family home, or a boiler breaking down in the winter months and needing emergency replacement. A key aspect to being a successful landlord is being economical and knowing how to reduce the risk of unexpected costs.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

One of the best ways to achieve the most efficient cost reduction for your property rental business is to fix small problems before they become a bigger problem. You might get tenants asking you to fix a leaking tap, or do something about the stiff key lock on the front door. These may seem like insignificant jobs in the grand scheme of things, but not when you consider the consequences. Leaking taps will mean higher water bills, and a broken faucet could result in an expensive emergency plumber call-out. A stiff key lock could be fixed with a simple squirt of grease, but it left untreated could result in a key being broke off in a lock, and the entire lock having to be changed.

A good strategy is to give your property a thorough once over each time the tenants change, so that you know everything is working correctly and you have time to fix problems before new tenants move in. What might seem like a small, insignificant job can turn into something much worse if it is ignored for too long, so get things sorted quickly and properly.

Doing the Small Jobs Yourself

There are plenty of maintenance jobs you can do yourself, so do not always reach for the phone when you need something doing. Whether it is painting a fence, cleaning an oven, changing a door handle, or wallpapering a room, spending your free time doing these things is a great way to reduce your costs. You do not need to pay somebody to carry out every single little maintenance job that is required in your properties, unless you like to throw many down the pan. While there are many occasions where the services of a tradesman are not needed, do not try to attempt things you are not trained to do, like plumbing or electrical work, because you could end up causing more harm than good.

Getting Tradesmen Onside

Following on nicely from the last section, when you do absolutely positively need the help of a trained technician or tradesman to get you property in shape, try to use a trusted friend if at all possible. This will not always be possible, but it really is worth building a trustful working relationship with tradesmen that can be mutually beneficial to the both of you. By using the same guy over and over again they will get familiar with your properties and know the best, and cheapest, ways to avoid potential problems. Perhaps you can even take advantage of their tradesmen discount at the builder’s merchants if you throw enough work their way.

Avoiding Bad Tenants

It could be the biggest reason behind large maintenance costs for landlords, and the benefits of having clean and careful tenants should not be underestimated. Tenants that do their best to keep your property in good shape, and even sort out the small problems themselves really are gold dust to a property rental business. On the other hand, ending up with the tenants from hell can put one hell of a dent on your bank balance. Cigarette burns in the carpets, shoe scuff marks on the walls, mold in the bathroom, filthy furniture, the list goes on. Avoiding bad tenants goes a long way to reducing your maintenance overheads, and there are some sure fire ways that you find the best out of your crowd of potentials. Remember to always background check tenants, so that you have their credit rating, an employer reference, and a reference from their last landlord. If anything looks a bit iffy, then the best thing you can do is to hold on and wait for the next potential tenant to call. Holding out for a good tenant might lose you a week’s worth of rent, but it can really pay off in the long term.

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Melissa Hathaway

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By Melissa Hathaway

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