I’ve recently ended the tenancy for one of my rental houses, and as planned I’m using the void period to spruce up the whole house in preparation for the winter, and for the next (hopefully long-term) tenants.
Maintaining a rental property is different to maintaining your own home, and for me it’s all about minimising the problems that I’ll have to fix later. I try to keep on top of maintenance for all the essential bits like the roof, plumbing and electrics, so I’m less likely to get emergency call-outs from my tenants. During the last void, I changed the leaking flat porch roof for an angled roof – ta da, no more roof leaking issues! I also cunningly got my neighbour in on the roof replacement, as it made no sense to change my roof and not his, so the cost was shared between us. Always a good idea to stay on good terms with your neighbours even if you don’t live there yourself.
When choosing fixtures and fittings, I try to choose good quality items that won’t need replacing every tenancy, and go for hard-wearing items as tenants are usually less likely to look after things that don’t belong to them. Laminate flooring is a good idea as it’s easy to clean, and I’ve started using the same colour for a number of rooms to keep paint costs down. And stop me having to remember what colour went where!
In this re-fit, I’ve replaced the 20-year-old gas boiler and tanks with a new combi boiler – rather expensive, but seeing that the tank was almost rusted through it would have had to have been done soon anyway and doing it now means I’m unlikely to have emergency call-outs over the winter. Now it’s a combi boiler, there’s no more risk of water leaking through the bedroom ceiling from the tanks in the loft. And as energy prices continue to rise, the efficient combi could be a good ‘selling’ point for new tenants.
I’ve used the opportunity of an empty house to replace the rotten worktop housing the kitchen sink, and while it’s accessible, the plumbing has had a jolly good check as well. That wall was horrible from the leaking water! But it’ll stay dry now the whole problem has been addressed.
I’m re-painting most of the rooms and the woodwork, as it presents a much more attractive property to prospective tenants and can get me a higher rent than other available houses in the area. It’s also easier for check-out purposes if you know you started with a re-decorated house.
I’m doing all this at the same time as my day job, and the only way I can keep on top of it all is to treat it exactly as I would any project management job for a client: lists, lists and more lists! I have a deadline in mind for when I want the house available on the market, and I have a list of jobs that have to be done by then. Some of the others can be completed while I wait for a tenant’s notice period to end, but I always plan backwards so I know what the priorities are. In this case, the garden can wait until the house is advertised so I’m concentrating on the interior first.
Good contractors are essential when the maintainance of a house is actually a business, so I’ve worked hard to build up relationships with a list of quality people that I trust. They’re not the cheapest, but they will make sure the job is done right first time, and they might just help me quickly when I get into a fix.
I’ll be glad when this re-fit is done and I have new tenants living in my house, but I’m happy that I’ve chosen to do the work now. I’m tipping the odds in my favour for a problem-free winter!