Some people often ask us, “What is it like to be a Property Manager?” We thought it may be useful to give you an insight into just some of the things we do to ensure that a property is returned to an owner in a similar condition, whether 3, 5 or ten years since we were originally given the keys.
Carrying out periodic inspections
We inspect properties on a regular basis, usually about once every quarter although more frequently if the property is an HMO as we want to ensure that all of the fire safety legislation is continually complied with.
We notify Tenants in advance of our visit by letter. Some Tenants are happy for us to go in, others prefer to be there, either way we respect the wishes of the Tenant. We have of course had the odd occasion where we have gone to inspect a bedroom and the Tenant is still in bed!
The purpose of the visit is not to carry out a full inventory check, but to simply check that the property is being looked after, check no additional people are living there (particularly with the introduction of the Right To Rent) and that there are no maintenance issues that the Tenant has failed to report.
The major issue we find on inspections is with the cleanliness of properties and in this instance a letter is sent to the Tenants to remind them of their obligations under the tenancy.
Following the visit we always do a written report for the owner.
If you are managing your own property then we would suggest that you write to your Tenants at least 24 hours before any visit and that you inspect the property every 3 – 4 months, more frequently if the tenancy is an HMO.
Regular maintenance of properties
When something breaks or stops working in the property then the Tenants get in touch with us, sometimes, by email, phone or text. Other than in the event of an emergency we will always contact the owner to advise them what is happened and who we are going to get out, when they are going and the anticipated cost. We can not think of anything worse than expecting £700 rent to go in to your account on the 1st of the month only to find that you only got £400 due to a “mystery” boiler repair.
We co-ordinate access for the contractor and liaise with all three parties, the Landlord, The Tenant and the Contractor to ensure that all parties are kept informed until the job is completed, at which point we will settle the bill and charge the Landlord (provided the breakage was not caused by negligence or malicious damage on the part of the Tenant).
If you are managing your own property then we would suggest that you find reliable contractors who can come out at short notice as Tenants do not tolerate unnecessary delays. Check the contractor has the right qualifications and professional indemnity insurance and are reasonably priced. Check their weekend call out rates too.
Tenant check outs
When a tenancy comes to an end then the Tenant needs to be promptly checked out of the property. We will meet the Tenant at the property on the last day of the tenancy, take the keys, meter readings and do a full check of the written and photographic inventory that was signed by all parties at the start of the tenancy. Some Letting Agents use third party inventory clerks for this, however, we prefer to do this in-house as even when an inventory clerk does the check-out someone still has to negotiate with the Tenant.
We find some common issues at checkouts which include;
- Dirty ovens and kitchens
- Overgrown or unkempt gardens
- Dirty bathrooms
When we complete the check out we report back to the owner and produce a check out report for all parties which includes any estimated costs to return the property to a similar condition as at the start of a tenancy less fair, wear and tear. Then comes the tricky bit, unfortunately nearly every Tenant disagrees with the costs and almost every Landlord wants more. This is often why the position in the office is described as a Negotiator.
If you are managing your own property then our top tip is that whatever you do upfront at the start of the tenancy will help with the end of the tenancy. The more thorough you are at the start the better! It pays to use a professional inventory clerk to produce the inventory and make sure the Tenant signs the inventory, make sure you include photos, key details and meter readings on the inventory. In addition, ensure you are aware of the timescales for responding to the Tenants once they leave to ensure that you stay on the right side of Deposit legislation.