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Maintenance and your Property Portfolio

Whether you’re an owner, a tenant, or a Property Manager, maintenance is probably the biggest issue you face with a residential rental property.

Around 35% of the time used up in managing a property is taken up by maintenance. It’s the largest single item we deal with, and if we don’t have a good system then not only will we affect the value of the property, but we will possibly destroy the relationships that exist between the manager, landlord and tenant.

What does maintenance entail with a residential rental property?

First of all we need to understand that there are two categories of maintenance;

  1. Scheduled (proactive)
  2. Reactive

Proactive maintenance can be compliance related items like smoke alarm checks and pool fence inspections as well as less obvious things like exterior painting and roof and gutter cleaning. Body Corporates are required through legislation to deal effectively with scheduled maintenance but there are absolutely no requirements on Property Managers to even consider this.

Interestingly the best way to reduce reactive maintenance requests is to properly handle scheduled maintenance needs. This is where real ‘managers’ of property show their worth ahead of admin staff who just respond to problems as they arise.

Reactive maintenance is the bane of a property managers life.

Strike one for the tenant is simply having to make the request in the first place. As soon as a tenant has to contact the property manager to have a fault fixed then they’ve failed, it’s that simple.

Strike two is normally the lack of communication that ensues. Tenants having to chase up the PM with more frustrating calls and more conversations with people who don’t know what’s happening.

Strike three generally happens when the tenant gets messed around with changed appointment times, unfinished work and more calls from the uninformed staff at the Managers office.

The end result is that over a third of a Property Managers time is sucked up dealing with issues that invariably end up in conflict and devalued relationships between all parties.

The big question is why hasn’t the industry moved over to automated software systems yet? The larger players by and large have, but the bulk of the industry is still caught up in the last century, dealing with manual systems based on antiquated server-based software.

You’d think that the industry would have concluded that it’s probably time to automate the processes – you can bring the 35% down to around 6% and you improve the relationships.

With the advent of cloud computing you can now use software systems that have separate apps and portals for all the stakeholders, so everyone has real time information as to what’s happening. Nothing is missed, entry notices sent automatically, reminders sent to all parties prior to the set time, no need for the constant phone tag, invoices checked – the list of advantages is almost endless.

As sure as night follows day, the industry will move to automated systems.