When you hire a property manager, a major part of their role is managing repair and maintenance requests on your rental property. You are reliant on their expertise to filter which repairs you need to urgently respond to, and connect you with a trades person that they are confident will do a quality job for a reasonable price.
But what if you are managing the property yourself? What are your legal responsibilities to your tenant and how do you manage their expectations? How do you decide what is an urgent repair, and find a reliable trades person to complete the job?
This process can be quite overwhelming if you are new to property management, so here are some quick tips for you to help you navigate your first repair.
What is considered a repair and what is maintenance?
The first thing every landlord should be aware of is that repairs and maintenance are not necessarily the same. Australian Tax Office even has a clear definition between the two, which may be important for you to consider for your next tax return:
“Repairs generally involve a replacement or renewal of a worn out or broken part, for example, replacing worn or damaged curtains, blinds or carpets between tenants. Maintenance generally involves keeping the property in a tenant worthy condition, for example repainting faded or damaged interior walls.”
When a property is leased out, tenants will generally contact you to report a repair, but maintenance work is usually on you as the landlord to proactively action to keep your property in its best condition.
What are you legally required to repair as a landlord, and what is the responsibility of the tenant?
In the majority of rental agreements, tenants are usually responsible for minor maintenance, such as replacing light bulbs, mowing the lawn and general cleaning.
Another important note is that as a landlord in most regions of Australia, you are generally not required to cover the costs of repairing the damage that was caused by the tenant themselves or their invited guests to the property.
However, anything outside of this scope usually falls into the landlord’s responsibility to fix or maintain. Not all repairs will necessarily be urgent, and more time consuming or costly repairs or maintenance requests may be better to resolve between tenants.
But there are certain repairs which cannot be ignored, both for the safety and comfort of your tenants, and the condition of your property. Some examples of urgent repairs are listed below from the NSW Department of Fair Trading:
- a burst water service or a serious water service leak
- a blocked or broken toilet
- a serious roof leak
- a gas leak
- a dangerous electrical fault
- flooding or serious flood damage
- serious storm or fire damage
- a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply to the premises
- a failure or breakdown of the hot water service
- a failure or breakdown of the stove or oven
- a failure or breakdown of a heater or air-conditioner
- a fault or damage which makes the premises unsafe or insecure.
These repairs need to be acted upon quickly and will often require the services of a qualified and licenced tradesperson to complete the work. For further details on similar regulations that relate directly to the region where your property is located, please refer to your local state housing authority.
How can tenants report a problem or request a repair?
Repair and maintenance issues can be identified during a scheduled rental inspection, but most urgent repairs should be immediately communicated to you by your tenant.
Tenants can, of course, contact you verbally to report a problem, but repair requests should always be put into writing to maintain records of the issue.
This provides you as the landlord with a track record of what repairs and maintenance have been completed and when, and helps protect both parties should the matter escalate any further.
Instarent can assist both you and your tenant as a single platform to communicate in real time when issues occur. Not only does Instarent work as a communication app, it includes a repair log to provide both you and the tenant with visibility on the progress of the repair, and keep a historical record of your communication.
Can I complete repairs and maintenance myself?
As the property owner, you can conduct your own repairs and maintenance work, and for minor issues, this can be a good cost and time saver.
However, if the repair is more complex, you carry both the physical and legal risk yourself by not utilising a qualified trades person to complete the work - if the issue arises again and causes harm to your tenant or causes further damage to your property, the responsibility falls entirely on you.
Finding a reliable qualified trades person to complete the job on your behalf can be another challenge in itself, and most full-time property agents will have multiple contacts on standby that they know will make themselves available at a convenient time and reasonable cost.
Unless you are working in a specific industry where you have already built up these trade contacts, you can easily waste many hours and dollars searching for a suitable tradie, and there is still the risk that they will not be punctual in turning up to to the property at the appointed time, or that the work will be completed to a high standard.
How can Instarent assist me with repairs and maintenance?
Instarent can help you tackle these issues on several fronts:
- Reporting the repair in real time - By providing your tenant with a single platform to report the repair and communicate with you directly to book in time to fix the issue.
- Creating transparency between you and your tenant - by allowing both you and your tenant visibility on the progress of the repair by tracking it via Instarents repair log. By using the Instarent app you will be able to keep an ongoing history of your property in a single location.
- Finding qualified tradespeople - Instarent has a network of qualified tradespeople local to your area, and you can book -in and pay for your repairs via the app
- Managing your payments and paperwork - pay for your repairs on time, send and and securely store important documents including work orders, invoices and receipts.
- Support you throughout the process - connect 24/7 with virtual property managers to answer your questions and provide advice.
You can find more details here on the Instarent platform, how it works and how it can assist you as a landlord to more seamlessly manage your rental property or you can contact us today.
Repairs can be a headache for any landlord, regardless of whether this is your first self-managed property or not.
It may take time for you to develop the best process to manage these issues, but with a solid network of trade contacts and a reliable property management tool to assist you along the way you will be able to focus your time and money on getting the most value out of your rental property.