Why Landlords Must Maintain Their Properties


THERE is no bigger mistake a landlord can make than neglecting to maintain and keep a rented property in tiptop condition.


This is according to Schalk van der Merwe, co-franchisee for the Rawson Property Group’s Somerset West franchise, who says tenants today will dislike inadequate maintenance more than ever before because they are likely to be paying top dollar prices on their leases.


Van der Merwe says maintenance and upgrades have to be ongoing and regular if good tenants are to be kept content and deterred from moving on once their leases expire.


In making a property attractive to tenants, he says the first step should always be to ensure that it is as secure as possible. These days boundary walls are an essential item, and homes without security alarm systems or burglar bars are difficult to rent out.


The second step in the maintenance programme should be to install better flooring, and wood, laminated wood or tiles of a superior quality are expected by tenants today.


Then, too, he says the maximum that a landlord can afford should be spent on making the kitchen and bathrooms more sophisticated and attractive. He says the fixtures and hardware are readily available to make this a fairly simple task.


If, on the other hand, a rented property is inadequately maintained, Van der Merwe says tenants are quite likely to take the law into their own hands and default on their rental payments.


This illegal practice is especially likely to occur if unsatisfactory maintenance results in the premises becoming uncomfortable to live in, for example unable to be warmed or cooled, or if the tenant’s property is damaged by, for example, water leaks.


Van der Merwe says certain landlords will go to great lengths to avoid appointing a rental agent, but in his experience one of the big advantages of employing an agent, apart from their proven ability to check references and the tenant’s background, to manage tenants and to get payments on time, is that their regular inspections will reveal when maintenance work has to be done, and they will usually ensure that this happens.


Occasionally, Van der Merwe says tenants and landlords will offer to do the maintenance or upgrade work themselves instead employing an outside contractor.


It has to be accepted, however, that except for in very rare occasions, they will probably not be as proficient as the person whose job it is to do this work full-time, and they may well actually lower the value of the property by inferior workmanship, says Van der Merwe. Property24.com