How to maintain a rental property Part 2: Before the tenants move in
 
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In our previous post, we discussed the rules and regulations around maintenance of rental properties. There are a lot of legislative requirements to keep on top of, legal obligations and processes that must be followed. If you are unclear on any of them, be sure to check out the post and follow the links to the official government sources. If you still have questions, don’t forget you can contact us at any time and we’ll be happy to answer them.

In this post, we’ve compiled a range of practical tips, and an action plan to make sure you can keep your property in top shape, and minimise the risks of damage and neglect – a little time and investment in the short term can save you some huge, unexpected costs in the long term!

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Before the tenant moves in to your property

There are a number of key areas to address before tenants move in. As well as meeting the minimum requirements of cleanliness and safety, there are a number of things you can do to help make sure the good standard you have set will last, and improve the likelihood of your tenants adhering to that standard.

Carpet Cleaning

If previous tenants have messed up the carpets, make sure they are professionally cleaned. When tenants move in to a house with stained carpets, its easy to think ‘what’s one more stain.’ However, nice, clean carpets will encourage them to keep it that way, and a small investment in a professional cleaning job could save you thousands in replacement costs.

Mould and Dampness

Many rental properties, especially rental properties in Christchurch, are highly susceptible to mould and dampness, especially over the winter. While the tenants have responsibilities for things like wiping down condensation, have a good, hard think about what you can do to help prevent mould and dampness – it can be hard to tell what is neglect on the tenant’s part, or reasonable wear and tear – which the landlord is responsible for.

Things you can do to reduce mould and dampness:

Bedrooms

  • Do the bedrooms have windows that can be opened to prevent condensation?
  • Are tenants planning to sleep on mattresses on the floor? You may want to stipulate a rule about this, as mattresses can create dampness issues without ventilation underneath, which can be damaging for your carpets and bad for the tenant’s health.
  • Check wardrobes, closets and cupboards for dampness, as well as the backing of any larger cupboards/wardrobes.

Kitchen

  • Smoke and steam can be a huge contributor to wear and tear, or even more serious damage. Make sure you have an extractor fan and/or windows that can be opened to provide ventilation.

Bathroom

  • Like the kitchen, the bathroom of your rental property should have an extractor fan or at the very least openable windows. Otherwise you’ll find yourself making repairs and repainting on a regular basis.
  • Make sure the shower curtain can be contained in the shower or bath, if it sits outside the bathroom floor can easily get flooded and damaged, and the increased water exposure will lead to slow building issues.

Laundry

  • The laundry is another area with a high concentration of moisture, especially if there is a drier. Make sure there is ventilation, either a specially built in drier vent or openable windows.
  • Having a covered area to dry clothes outside is a simple way to reduce the reliance on the laundry/indoor space to dry clothes

Living Areas

  • A number of heating options also contribute to increased moisture. Unflued gas heaters, for example, greatly contribute to moisture and dampness inside. If you provide a heating solution, make sure its the best one for the longevity of the property. If you don’t, it could be something to consider – you can choose the driest and most efficient heater to reduce the chance of your tenants getting one that will cause long term damage.
  • Thermal backing on curtains is another way to keep the house at a good temperature and reduce dampness.
  • Make sure that, like the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, the windows can be opened to ventilate the property.

Outdoors

  • Underneath the house is another place to investigate to ensure it is properly ventilated and to make sure the pipes are properly functioning
  • The garden is another part of your property to examine. For Christchurch rental properties in particular, cutting back some greenery to let more light in can be a great way to reduce dampness.
  • Check that no drainage pipes are blocked, by leaves, birds-nests or anything else. This is a huge contributor of leaks and burst pipes

Infestations

Before a tenant moves into your rental property,it is your responsibility to check for any infestations – animals, bugs, termites or otherwise – and get the place fumigated. If their uncleanliness has lead to an infestation during the tenancy, it will be their responsibility to deal with it. However, if there’s a history of repeated infestations, and something on the property contributing to them (under the house, in the roof or in the garden) it is the landlord’s responsibility to deal with it prior to the tenancy starting.

Insulation

Insulation isn’t a must, but for rental properties in Christchurch, not only is it a great advantage as far as marketability goes, but it can greatly reduce the ongoing wear and tear or damage caused by mould and dampness. Consider making the investment, with government funding available it isn’t as costly as it once was and can really pay off. Check out Energrywise for more information on the funding you can get.

Keeping up with rental property maintenance

If this all seems like a lot to take on board and implement, you aren’t alone. We’ve been helping landlords in Christchurch to keep on top of all the maintenance opportunities and necessities to keep their rental properties in the best shape and protect their investment for the long term. If you’d like to know more about our property management services, and how we can handle maintenance on your behalf, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for our next post on making an action plan for maintenance during the tenancy.