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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Duncan

Proactive property maintenance

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

When you own rental property, it's smart to plan ahead so big expenses don't come as a surprise.

In this guide, we'll take you through important aspects of your property to check on a regular basis. Our goal is to help you stay on top of your maintenance and keep your property in tip-top shape. In turn, this will help you maximise your returns.

We'll give you a specific list of tasks to tackle each year and warning signs to look for at each of your quarterly inspections.

Audio version:

Want us to handle it all for you? If you would rather have someone you trust handle everything on your behalf, we are here to help. Click here to order a free rental checkup and we'll be in touch.

Yearly Tasks

  • Cut back any trees getting close to the property. This proactive step will help you avoid major issues like clogged up spouting (which can lead to leaks) or trees falling on your roof in a storm.

  • Clear all gutters. Blocked spouting is a ticking time bomb.

  • Get an exterior house wash, this preserves your paint work.

  • Get your heatpump serviced, which will increase efficiency and lifespan.

  • Change your DVS / HRV / Smartvent filter.

What to watch for at each inspection

Most insurance policies require that you complete an inspection every 13 weeks (4 times per year). It's important that you diarise your inspection dates and complete them on time. Otherwise your insurance company might not pay out if something goes wrong.

Remember, inspections aren't about checking whether beds are made or dishes are done. They are about finding small problems before they turn into bigger (expensive) issues.

On that note, when you inspect your rental property spend time checking out these often overlooked spots:

  • Hot water cupboards. Check for dampness around the base of your hot water cylinder.

  • Look underneath all sinks. Look for signs of water directly below any piping.

  • Check inside laundry cupboards.

  • Take a close look inside bathroom vanities. Remember to take a torch!

  • Check window sills in case paint is cracking (showing bare wood), exposing window sills to rot.

If you do find water in these spots, the solution might be as simple as tightening up a nut on your water pipes. But, failure to notice small leaks could lead to rot, mould and damage in due course.

Remember: It's far easier to fix a small leak that you spot early, than it is to replace a whole bathroom vanity.

Critical tip:

Encourage your tenants to bring up maintenance issues.

Let them know it won't cost them their tenancy. Tenants are apprehensive to bring up maintenance issues (like lights that don't work) because they don't want to seem ungrateful. But small issues can be hiding a larger issue and as a landlord, it's your job to find these things out. Don't presume tenants will tell you everything that's wrong.

Note for tenants: Don't be scared to bring up issues. Our owners want to know if things aren't working in the correct order.

Note for landlords: Watch out - some property managers only check inside the property (and are unlikely to check under sinks). So if your inspection report only has limited inside photos, that should be cause for concern. Click here to order a free rental checkup.

At Simply Rentals, we often spend just as much time inspecting the exterior of the property as we do on the interior. Outside a property is where more of the bigger issues come up. Problems leading to leaks and water ingress start on the outside of a property.

Exterior signs to look for:

Cracks in your exterior paintwork.

Once cracks start appearing you might only have 1-2 years before wood starts to rot. It's time to start planning to re-paint in a few years time, or at least budget for some targeted painting maintenance in affected areas.

Rust spots on your roof.

This could mean your roof has limited remaining life. A small amount of rust might mean your roof has 12-18 months before it starts letting water in. At this point you need to consider painting vs replacing. Painting will be a lot cheaper and might buy you 3-5 years more 'life' from your existing roof.

Are your paths a little slippery?

Don't wait. Get them washed now, before they cause an injury to one of your tenants. You could get these taken care of at the same time your house exterior is being washed.

Have a budget for maintenance

Keep in mind, most owners budget around 1% of the value of their property for maintenance each year. Eg. If your property is worth $800k, that's $8k per year for maintenance.

This might sound like a lot (and hopefully you won't have to spend that much) but it's worth setting this sort of money aside just in case something goes wrong.

For example, a new hot water cylinder can be $3k. When your existing one breaks down, it's an urgent repair. If the cylinder in your investment property needs replacing and you don't have money set aside to pay for it, you could end up having to take on short term debt at high interest rates just to cover the cost.

Plus, by setting aside money each year, you'll have the funds ready to go when a major expense comes up, like replacing a roof or repainting the exterior.

Property has proven to be a fantastic investment over time, but you can't spend capital gains. So it's important to put aside some of the rent you receive to be invested in proactive maintenance.

In conclusion...

As an investment property owner, it's smart to always be looking ahead at possible worst case scenarios, like: "What happens if that tree falls down on my roof in a storm?" And thinking how can you minimise risk.

This approach may leave you feeling like you are always having to shell out money on your property. But if you maintain it proactively and look for things that could go wrong before they do, then you will likely save yourself money (and hassle) in the long run by avoiding greater problems down the track.


Want us to handle it all for you? If you would rather have someone you trust handle everything on your behalf, we are here to help. Click here to order a free rental checkup and we'll be in touch.


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