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Rental market: Landlords get your act together to attract top tenants

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Well-maintained rental homes not only attract the best tenants and secure the highest rentals, but preserve capital values and ensure they appreciate over time.

However, many landlords are reluctant to conduct regular maintenance – often to their detriment.

Lack of upkeep and regular maintenance is not only costly down the line when avoidable major repairs are required, it can also be downright dangerous,” says Jill Lloyd, an area specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

Landlords should also be able to provide an electrical compliance certificate to tenants; they should ask for these.

Speaking from a personal experience, Lloyd says her daughter could have been killed from an electric shock in the bathroom of a rental home on their first night.

“The whole geyser and plumbing system was live and, as we all know, water and electricity don’t mix well. Fortunately, I was there and saved her, but it could have ended differently.”

The pool pump was connected to the sub-box in the cottage and there was no earth leakage on that.

Lloyd says landlords must have their electrical compliance certificates issued by reputable people . She believes that not only should water and electrical components of rental properties be checked between tenants, especially where there are multiple tenants, such as in student accommodation, but owners of rental homes should also be required to periodically produce compliance certification.

Regular maintenance is critical to attract quality tenants, says Jenna Pietersen, a rental agent for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s.

“Recently I struggled to let several stunning, well-priced properties that would have easily let if they were better maintained. Prospective tenants are spoilt for choice at the moment and properties that are well-maintained and visually appealing will always have the edge.”

At the very least, landlords should give their properties a fresh coat of paint, especially after a long-term tenant has vacated, and ensure the garden is neat and tidy and all fittings and fixtures in the house are neat and in working order.

“As with a car, you have to keep your hand on it, otherwise small issues add up and you pay way more towards maintenance in time.”

Pietersen offers landlords five tips for remaining on top of their maintenance and reducing the risk of major repairs:

Schedule regular property inspections and maintenance to keep the property in the best possible condition. This way, even if your tenants haven’t reported a problem, you will find it before it’s become an expensive issue.

Ensure the contractors you use are qualified to carry out the work and are registered with the relevant association for their trade. Where possible, obtain guarantees for work done, especially if it’s a large project. Withhold 10% of their final invoice until you’re satisfied the work has been completed to your satisfaction.

Forward plan when you renovate to minimise the cost and time of repairs. For example, when renovating a bathroom, make sure working facets are easily accessible for repairs by not installing cisterns concealed behind walls and tiles.

Check the property is watertight ahead of winter by checking for loose or missing roof tiles, gaps in brickwork, window and door frames – anywhere water could penetrate. Have the gutters and drains cleared and make sure all the guttering and downpipes are in good condition.

Pietersen sys if landlords show they care for their property by providing good quality finishes and fittings and maintaining it well, tenants are likely to take better care of it.

Lloyd says a well-cared-for, pristine home will almost always obtain a better rental.

“Not only will regular maintenance add to the value of the investment, it is also a tax-deductible expense,” she says.

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