Maintaining your Christchurch property is a lot of work – and can be especially hard if you are not the one residing in it. Ensuring your rental property is fit, healthy and safe enough for another family or flat to live in may involve more work than you originally thought.
Earlier this year New Zealand had its first trial for a rental property warrant of fitness (WOF) to regulate house maintenance. All major cities, including Christchurch, took part in the trial, 144 homes were tested and a shocking 94% of the properties failed the warrant. Many of the faults were not major and could have easily been fixed to reach the new standard of living. The rental property warrant of fitness provides a great framework for you to not only meet the standards, but to create an actionable plan to maintain your property ongoing.
As the final part in our rental property maintenance series, we have created a helpful guide to ensure that your home will pass the next house WOF.
Tips to maintain your Christchurch rental property and get that WOF
Put working smoke alarms near every bedroom in your rental property
Starting with simple and easy changes is a good step to making your Christchurch rental properties safe and secure. Not only will installing smoke alarms lower the chances of your rental property catching fire, but it will also help meet the new rental property standards. To be in line with the proposed new regulations, working smoke alarms must be within 3 meters of each bedroom and be replaced every 10 years.
Regularly check the water temperature
Adjusting the water temperature is another easy action to ensure your rental property is well maintained. To set the temperature, search down the side or under the protective lid of the cylinder for the thermostat. The ideal temperature to kill bacteria and keep the water supply warm is 60° C but may go as low as 45° C. Temperatures set higher than the recommended 60° C will quickly heat not only the water, but your tenant’s power bill too.
Safety in stairways
Handrails can easily be forgotten about when maintaining a property. For handrails in Christchurch rental properties to be recognised as safe and sufficient, they must be between 900 and 1000mm above the pitch line (the line which joins the leading edge or nosing of the successive stair treads). The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has more details on handrails and what that all means here. In short, not only must the distance be correct but the handrails and safety barriers must be secure. All handrails should be able to last for a minimum of 50 years.
Keeping the rental property heated
The upcoming WOF will look to ensure that the rental property can be heated sufficiently. The recommended temperature for a rental property is to be 18°C-21°C. Ensuring your property can reach this temperature usually means having some form of insulation. Ceiling and under-floor insulation is a very beneficial way of ensuring your property is energy efficient. If your property already has insulation – it may be a good idea to check the status of the insulation. During the pilot it was discovered that many “insulated” properties actually hadn’t had it replaced or upgraded, resulting in really poor insulation that failed inspections. As well as insulation, having a some form of heating (e.g. a heat pump) means that tenants can live comfortably and can easily reach the target temperature of 18°C-21°C.
Maintaining your Christchurch rental property
So now you are covered for the first rental property WOF – but what can you do to ensure you maintain the other areas of your rental property?
- Change the locks each time the property gets new tenants
- Set up quarterly inspections and fix problems at them
- Make sure there are no toilet, tap or shower leaks. Small leaks or drips can cause a lot of unseen damage. Check for any leaks or water damage after big storms or rainy periods
- Clear out leaves from guttering quarterly, especially important in autumn
- Make sure none of the grouting between tiles is wearing out in bathrooms and kitchens (especially showers). Small wear and tear can be fixed by resealing right away, but larger, ongoing cracks or unsealed parts can create ongoing and often unseen water damage in walls
- Make sure all those fire alarms you have installed are regularly tested and the batteries replaced. Make sure your tenants haven’t taken the battery out after they burned the toast
- Clean and replace filters in heat pumps, ventilation systems or air conditioners – maintaining them will reduce breakages and the costs of replacing them
- Make sure the washing machine, dishwasher and drier aren’t leaking. Ensure the drier filters are getting cleaned out every time as these are a big fire hazard.
- If you supply a vacuum cleaner, make sure its filters are getting cleaned out
- Regularly drain the water heater – this can have sediment built up that causes ongoing damage
- Periodically check your roof for damage. Damaged, discolored, or gravel-less shingles should be quickly replaced to prevent the need to replace your roof, water-damaged beams, or drywall when you finally discover a leak. During the inspection of your roof, pay special attention to shingles that surround skylights, vents, and chimneys, as these areas are the most leak-prone.
- Arrange who will be doing the gardening maintenance and put it in the contract. If it is the tenants, make sure they have the necessary gardening tools
Find out more about property WOFs
We hope these tips have helped, and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, if doing all that maintenance work seems like way too much hassle, it might be time to talk to us about taking it off your hands and dealing with it for you. If you want to know more about how we can help you, don’t hesitate to get in contact for a no obligation chat!
Janice Cowdy is director of the Property Management Division of Cowdy.
Having worked in the role since 1989, with a reputation for offering an unrivalled property management service, she ensures landlords receive the best return for their investment.
A property investor herself, her philosophy is to treat every client’s property as they would. Always ensuring landlords receive a good return on investment, and enjoying open lines of communication.
She has extensive experience in all aspects of business, understanding relevant tenancy legislation, and is committed to providing the best property management service available.
A strategic thinker, she focuses on quality control, problem solving and forward planning.