Summer is a great time to reinvigorate and improve your rental property. The Block 2013 winner Caleb Pearson gives his top tips for how best to do it to benefit both your tenants and your asset.
1 November 2019
Summer is almost here so it’s time to get out the BBQ and enjoy the long evenings. It’s also a great time to do a check-up on your rental property, give it a bit of love and care, and make sure you are being a wise caretaker of your asset.
Whatever the reasons for investingin property, it’s important to be aware that your properties require continual investment. While this doesn’t have to be costly, it is prudent to put aside time and money each year to freshen up your property and keep it in good condition.
Not only will this ensure you attract and retain quality tenants, it may also save you money in the long term. In many cases neglecting maintenance items will lead to a quick fix becoming a complete replacement. But, done smartly, it will help your property hold and grow in value.
Here are my favourite ways to maintain and freshen up your property for summer.
1 Run A Check-Up
Before you get started, it’s worthwhile doing a full inspection on your property. Just as you would visit a doctor for a checkup, it’s good to give your property a checkup to show you which areas are healthy and which are not. It will highlight areas of sickness which need some care to avoid deteriorating and, if something’s broken, it enables you to take immediate action to set it right.
Regular inspections are the best way to keep on top of this and avoid surprises. Either you or your property manager should keep a log of maintenance items required and records of what has been completed. Create a checklist as a reminder to keep on top of planned and preventative items and when you may need to schedule larger projects.
2 Pay Attention To The Top
It is extremely important to maintain the roof of your property to keep it healthy and ensure its longevity. Roofing materials are designed to last, but they won’t last forever.
If there is loose roofing or flashings, rust, exposed areas, deteriorating silicone, don’t wait - get it fixed immediately. A roof leak can be very costly. Pay attention to the spouting too. Clear out any leaves and blockages to make sure that the spouting drains freely. If there are damaged areas or incorrect falls, replace your spouting to fix the problems. Luckily, replacing spouting is reasonably straight-forward.
3 Routine Maintenance
In most cases there will be fittings and appliances within your rental property that require an annual or regular service. Like servicing your car, ignore these and it may keep working fine in the short term, but neglect will catch up on you and something is bound to break.
If you don’t already have a comprehensive maintenance plan, now is a great time to think about carrying out the following activities:
• Chimneys need an annual sweep and inspection.
• Check and test smoke alarms.
• Heat-pumps and ventilation systems will have filters that can be checked, replaced or cleaned to ensure they run correctly and efficiently.
• If your property is recently built and still has warranties, these often have regular maintenance requirements to maintain warranties.
• Exterior house wash to remove dirt, moss and mildew. It’s good to attend to driveways, decks and other services while you are at this.
• If you have water tanks, sumps or stormwater facilities on your property, check and maintain these. You may even have a stormwater maintenance covenant on your title you are unaware of.
• Wasps or ant problems? Regular pest maintenance can keep these under control.
4 Sweat The Small Stuff
It’s easy to overlook the small repairs because, well, they are small. They often don’t get attended to as they can seem like too much effort. If that’s the case, identify several items to make the most of a repair visit, or add it on to other tasks to reduce the number of visits needed.
This list can be lengthy but common items include dripping hose taps, loose handles, fence palings fallen off, rust or corrosion appearing, loose fittings, old silicone, and gaps in window putty.
5 Opening Up
Doors and windows are some of the most regularly used parts of your house as they tend to be used daily. Check doors open and close smoothly and for noises or squeaking hinges. Timber joinery can expand over winter with moisture, so summer is the perfect time to let it dry out and make sure any exposed wood is sealed and painted. Check for gaps and install draught stoppers or seals where needed.
Consider adding security stays on windows. This will allow occupants to leave windows open a fraction to allow fresh air through the house over the summer months without having to worry about security. It also makes for fresh air and the removal of interior moisture.
6 Get Gardening
As the warmer months bed in, it is a great time to give house exteriors and gardens some attention. It’s a dryer time for working outside, plants will be flourishing, and the occupants can get the benefits of this over summer when more time is spent outdoors.
Trim hedges, trees and plants that require it. In particular look for plants which are near or hanging over the house, fences, overhead cables, or where cars are parked. If there are large trees which are creating regular issues (such as blocking spouting, roots creating damage to paths or services, that require too much maintenance or are too big to maintain) consider removing them completely.
Trim back vegetation that is growing up against your house or baseboards to allow air and light to get to these places, to keep your house dry. Deal with weeds on your property to avoid them taking over. Make sure surface and ground water drains properly, and either into the stormwater system or away from your house. Doing all of this will keep your property neat and tidy which makes it more attractive.
‘Keep on top of your property maintenance and ensure a better standard for your tenants and a greater return on your investment in the long run’
7 Outdoor Living
Kiwis love outdoor living and there is no better time than summer to air out the house, be in the fresh air and invite some friends over. Having an outdoor living space is a valued addition to any property as it effectively adds an extra “room” to a house. If space and money allow, look at adding a defined exterior living area to your property.
There are many options available, with decks and paved courtyards among the most common. Work with your existing area and constraints to plan a space. Consider how the space will connect and flow to the house and other external areas, shelter and protection, privacy and exposure to the elements. A pergola or shade sail can be an extra step towards creating a usable space all year round.
Use trellis and hedging to help define the area, create privacy to outdoor living spaces and block wind. There are many simple and cost effective ways this can be achieved - have a browse through Pinterest to find some ideas and inspiration.
8 Up To Standard
The Healthy Homes minimum standards are now well known and discussed, having become law earlier this year. They aim to raise the quality of rental properties by creating warmer, drier and “healthier” homes. Over the coming years, the full extent of the standards will become compulsory for all rental properties.
But if you have not done so by now, check through the requirements of your property and see where your property stands against the requirements set out in the standards. Remember they cover heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping so these are all areas you need to think about.
You’ll also need to make sure you complete the required compliance documentation. Now is a great time to address these items before another winter comes around. That’s because the requirement for compliant documentation on new or updated tenancy agreements is compulsory from July 2020.
Remember, it can be easy to fall into the “set and forget” mode with a rental property and overlook regular repairs and maintenance items. While not all of these tasks are necessary every year, a regular freshening up of your property is a great practice to get into.
It’s much easier to maintain or repair things as issues arise, because if an issue is ignored, the problem may escalate, resulting in additional damage and cost. Keep on top of your property maintenance and ensure a better standard for your tenants and a greater return on your investment in the long run.