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Building relationships

Quinovic North Harbour principal Nicky Lewis discusses the importance of using certified trades professionals and shares her golden rules for getting the job done right.

By: Nicky Lewis

1 August 2020

The rental market in New Zealand has shifted. In the last few years alone, we’ve seen new compliance requirements come into play, suggested law changes, the Healthy Homes standards rolling out, and record-breaking house prices. For many, owning rental property has suddenly become a stressful and costly exercise.

So, it’s understandable that with the classic can-do Kiwi attitude, property owners are drawn to more affordable DIY work or using a handyman to fulfil their property maintenance needs. However, the implications of using the wrong person for the job extend far beyond the initial price tag.

When you don’t use a certified professional, you’re actually putting yourself and your investment at risk. Here are just a few of the issues you might encounter:

• fewer rights under consumer laws if anything goes wrong;

• you may not be insured for damage caused by poor workmanship;

• the work could be unsafe;

• it may not be possible to obtain the required certificates for council signoff if the work requires consent; or

• it could end up costing more than what you thought you were saving by taking that “cheap” quote.

These risks may not seem significant when you’re faced with two drastically different quotes, but they could evolve into serious problems when you try to sell. If your property doesn’t receive a code of compliance, this will be documented and reflected on your LIM report and can ultimately drive down the price of your home.

It’s also incredibly important that property owners realise that they are largely liable for the safety of anyone carrying out work on their property. As an investment property owner, you are treated as a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) under Health and Safety law. You and your contractors are required to follow strict guidelines when conducting maintenance. If the work is unsafe and someone is hurt, the maintenance costs could be the least of your worries.

To help you protect your investment property, I’ve put together four rules to follow when planning property maintenance work.

1. Start Learning

When work is carried out on your rental property, there are three key pieces of legislation that you should be familiar with: the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, the Building Act 2004 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It’s a good idea to understand how each of these impacts you and your investment, and ensure that the trades professionals you work with also have a strong understanding of these laws.

2. Ask To See Certification

When you meet with a trades professional you haven’t worked with before, it’s important that you sight their certification. Some property owners find this question especially uncomfortable, but the protection these documents provide significantly outweighs a few seconds of nervousness. The records you should ask to view are:
• appropriate insurance policy, dated
• health and safety policy, dated
• registration and insurance cover certificates, dated.

Unless they expire, you’ll only need to view these documents once. It’s also helpful to confirm that they belong to a masters or trade association and to ask for a quote in writing.

3. Split Your Payments

Splitting your payments is a fantastic way to ensure the quality of work meets your expectations. I recommend dividing the total cost of bigger jobs into at least four payments and physically getting onsite to check on the work. If you’ve paid for 75% of the job, you should expect to see 75% of the work completed. Every property owner should also complete a final inspection of the work before paying the last instalment to ensure they’re happy with the job.

4. Keep It Calm

The final rule is simply to keep it calm. Building strong relationships with local tradespeople is hugely important for rental property owners, so closely managing your communication is vital. If you’re not happy with a job, simply let the professional know and give them the opportunity to fix it. This will always end in a better result than getting upset or confrontational.

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