A property investment is not set and forget.  Which is why you need a good property manager to keep their eye on the details or your rental property and alert you to things that may become an issue in future if not dealt with early.  The saying “a stitch in time saves nine” is a true saying that applies to many areas in life – property maintenance definitely included.  Whether it is alerting the landlord to minor signs of damage or excessive wear and tear early on in a tenancy which may lead to a decision to not renew a lease, or simply just keeping an eye on minor maintenance requirements and getting them done while they are cheap and easy.  Either way, this will save the property investor significant amounts in property maintenance in the future.  And will make the property worth more to rent or sell – again increasing returns for the property owner.

One way a property manager can do this is to do a “Fitting Health Check” at least once a year.  What is a “Fitting Health Check”?  It is inspection of all the fittings in the house to check they are in good working order.  Fittings tend to get loose or need minor maintenance through use, such as door handles, taps, shower fittings, garage doors etc…  Generally a qualified tradesperson is not needed for this (although could be employed) as it generally just involves checking operation and tightening a few screws.  In some cases a tradesperson may be required if it is determined that a change in tap washers is advantageous, or for the inspecting and tuning of a garage door operation.

As the property manager needs to do routine inspections anyway, this is something that can be incorporated into one of the routine inspections (which would need to be scheduled for a bit longer).  While it is more time out of a property manager’s day – there are five compeling reasons to consider implementing a simple annual “Fitting Health Check” checklist into a property manager’s routine;

  1. Saves money on maintenance in the long run
  2. Identifies excess wear and tear early
  3. Keeps tenants happy
  4. Maximises rentability and saleability
  5. Is cheap and easy to do

1. Saves money on maintenance in the long run

As a property ages, maintenance will be required.  A property investor should factoring a level of maintenance cost into the understanding the return on their rental property over the period they plan to own it.  If the property is well kept, and little things are addressed to quick though, the maintenance costs are unlikely to be significant, particularly on newer properties.

Hence the number 1 reason for a property manager to consider doing an annual “Fitting Health Check” is to reduce the cost of maintenance for their clients – and in doing so provide a better customer service.

2. Identifies excess wear and tear early

While a routine inspection that does not include a “Fitting Health Check” checklist will pick up excess wear and tear – a focused “Fitting Health Check” will pick it up earlier. This will enable the property manager and landlord to make a decision about what they want to do about it sooner rather than later, and reduce the extra maintenance costs that result with excessive wear and tear over an extended period.  How does a “Fitting Health Check” help with this?  Heavy handed and rough treatment of the property will first be noticed in the impact it has on fittings.  So if door handles are becoming loose more quickly than usual, or tap fittings deteriorating in use – this suggests heavy handedness which might lead to more wear and tear than usual down the track.  While this is not grounds to ask a tenant to leave during a lease – it may have an impact on how the next lease and rent review is approached it this is known – as a “Fitting Health Check” would identify.

3. Keeps tenants happy

Tenants always like all elements of the property to be good working order.  They are paying a lot for rent (in Australia) – so it not surprising they expect the property to be in good shape.  While many tenants can do (and often do) little bits of “maintenance” to keep fittings in good shape, not all are able to (eg elderly) or “expect” that they should have to.  So if the property manager proactively does a review of fittings and fixes or rectifies any small issues, this definitely improves the tenant – property manager relationship.  A happy tenant is great thing for a property manager as they are more likely to pay rent on time, try harder to look after the property, and stay longer.  All reasons how the time spent on the “Fitting Health Check” can lead to time savings and less hassle for the property manager later on.

4. Maximises rentability and saleability

When presenting a property to let out, or for sale, wobbly door handles or shower heads that look worse for wear are not a good look.  When trying to let out or sell a property, the presentation of the property has a big impact on the emotion attraction to the property for prospective tenants or buyers.  So even though fittings are a very small thing, and logically you could argue it should not have an impact on the property a tenant or buyer chooses, ultimately the reality is that emotion, rather than logic, plays a big part in what property a tenant or buyer chooses.  Hence keeping on top of the condition of fittings (which may not be missed for a sale but may be for reletting) ensures that the property presents at it’s very best – increasing it’s rentability or saleability.

5. Is cheap and easy to do

Finally, reason 5 to do a “Fitting Health Check” is that it is both cheap and easy do to.  So why not – given all the other benefits as per the 4 reasons mentioned above.  Landlords and agency principal’s generally don’t have a problem with things that are “cheap”.  Cheap in dollars cost for the landlord for any minor rectifications required, and cheap in time for the property manager – likely to only be an extra 15-30 minutes per property per year.