As with so much in life, ‘prevention is the best cure’ when it comes to your buy to let property. That means ensuring the fabric of the building is in a good state of repair before it’s let and then having an ongoing maintenance schedule that should help avoid any serious and costly issues.
So, the first thing it’s highly advisable to do – unless you’re investing in a new build with warranties – is to instruct your own independent survey. Remember that the valuation that’s carried out in relation to a buy to let mortgage is simply to protect the lender and can be as basic as a surveyor simply looking up ‘comparables’ online – they may not even visit the property in person. Contact a RICS-qualified surveyor and take their advice on which level of survey would be most suitable for the age and condition of the property you’re buying, making sure that the report will include advice on both current and potential future issues.
While you may want to keep your initial spend on the property to a minimum, bear in mind that fixing issues or carrying out any upgrades once you’ve started letting to tenants can be much more complicated and potentially costly than getting as much as possible done at the start. If issues arise during a tenancy, time will need to be taken working with tenants over when works are carried out and may have to rehome them elsewhere if it’s a big job. If you wait until the property becomes vacant at the end of a tenancy, you could then have an extended void period without any rental income. On the other hand, if you carry out as much work as possible after purchase, you should be able to ‘future proof’ the property for a good 10-15 years.
Thereafter, it’s a case of carrying out regular inspections (every 6-12 months), checking both the interior and exterior for any signs of damage that could lead to problems. For example, a slipped tile on the roof or cracked guttering may allow water to penetrate the brickwork, resulting in damp inside, so get those things fixed right away before they turn into more costly jobs. Or surface mildew in the bathroom left untreated could spread and turn into a serious mould issue, which could require specialist treatment and even put your tenant’s health at risk – so early intervention with anti-mould spray and mould-resistant paint could save you a lot of money and complaints.
If we manage your property for you, as part of the service, we carry out the inspections and our experts will look to alert you early to any problems which may need fixing or updating.
A well-cared for property with a good standard of interior décor will also encourage tenants to look after it for as long as it’s their home. So, spending a little more on decent furnishings, refreshing the paintwork every few years and responding as soon as your tenant reports something isn’t working, should mean things last longer – and it’ll help you maximise the amount of rent you can charge.
If you’re about to buy a new rental property, or you’re thinking of updating one you already own, why not check in with your local branch to get the team’s advice on how to save money on maintenance? Our experienced property managers are always here to help, so call or arrange an appointment at your local branch.