Chill Out: 5 winter must-dos

Chill Out: 5 winter must-dos
1. Roofs Every year you should check your roof, chimneys and flashings (waterproofing strips that protect vulnerable areas) making sure problems are not developing. Things to look for include flashings that have corroded or lifted and crumbling chimney mortar. Overhanging branches can damage roofs, so it’s important to keep trees next to your house cut well back.  Check with the manufacturer of your roofing material to find out about any special maintenance requirements. 2. Drains and Gutters Blocked and damaged drains can and usually will cause serious flooding, so it’s important to contact a professional drainage company as soon as you become aware of any problems. Tree roots can cause clay drainage pipes to crack, so take care where you plant trees with extensive root systems.  Guttering and spouting need to be cleaned annually as leaves can easily collect and block them. 3. Chimneys As a matter of course, your chimney should be cleaned annually and now is the right time to do that before you use your fire in the winter.  Your insurance may be voided if you do not carry this out annually so don’t forget. 4. Balconies and Decks Found on most apartments and in modern homes, enclosed decks and balconies require good design and regular maintenance to ensure the correct drainage. They must be built with a slope to allow water to run away to a downpipe. Keep your drainage free of leaves and other items that might block them.  Enclosed decks with solid walls often suffer water ingress problems and need to be frequently checked for signs of rotting, swelling, cracks and rust around...

What do landlords actually want?

What do landlords actually want?
Recently we have been running seminars in Auckland for property managers, titled “What do Landlords actually want?”  We have had a great response from all types of property management companies, from start-ups to established nationwide brands.  In the current economic situation landlords – and property managers acting on their behalf – have to focus on looking after the property long term.  This asset management is now, more than ever, as much an important part of the business as rent collection. I watched the news in horror last weekend as people who let a holiday home in Omaha were injured when the deck they were on collapsed. The owner was quick to point out she had had a builder look over the decks in the last few years and although one deck had been closed off and marked as unsafe, the one that collapsed was deemed okay for use by tenants. It’s very important for landlords to note recent changes to the Residential Tenancies Act. This includes a new list of “unlawful acts” with specific fines which has been added.  Landlords may be fined up to $3,000 if they fail to provide the property in a reasonably clean state or fail to carry out maintenance or building and health and safety requirements. This means it is no longer acceptable for landlords to not carry out maintenance to rental properties or take reasonable measures to ensure that their properties are safe for tenants and or anyone else in those properties. Now we are all in business as property investors and every business has property costs, and no business likes costs.  But...

Your maintenance tool box

Your maintenance tool box
Adding value to your property portfolio all comes down to concentrating on doing the basic well. Now that we understand what the implications for property investors are from the Budget, clearly it is even more important to focus on your property business and what proactive steps can be taken to reduce large expenses and improve bottom-line profits. Most people can easily see the value of buying a property at a discounted price, renovating it and adding significant value and obtaining the highest market rents – and in turn yields.  Along with the fact that vacancy factors are also significantly reduced, the numbers are easy and it all makes sense, right? However, when the focus turns to the maintenance of properties and calculating the costs of maintenance, many investors either lose perspective or have no game plan on how to deal with this crucial part of their business.  In fact, many investors I deal with admit to avoiding the issue and more often than not leaving it solely to their property manager to deal with. I sat with a commercial investor not long ago talking property – as you do – and I asked him what he spent annually on maintenance.   Not only did he quote me an overall figure for maintenance, but he also quoted me a figure for improvements and brought his calculations down to rent per square metre and his investment in maintenance from that rent in each of his buildings. His attention to these details had him owning over two hectares of commercial property throughout New Zealand and clearly he knew his business better than anyone....

Choosing a Tradesman

Choosing a Tradesman
If I had $1 for every time I had heard a customer say to me: “He quoted us this much but the bill was this much “or “he just never came back to finish the job even though we paid him”, I wouldn’t need to invest in property – I would be a millionaire. The truth is that until late last year most contractors could charge pretty much what they liked, choose work that they wanted to do, show up when they wanted and  be less than considerate to their customers and still make a good living.  But the world has changed and  so has our economy for the worse –much worse. Our property maintenance business Maintain To Profit receives about two calls a day from tradesmen asking for work.  We have a stringent process that all contractors must pass to work for us on a sub contract basis. So I am going to share a few tips with you on what we do when we take on tradesmen. – it’s a good formula for selecting the right tradesman. Firstly we ask them to email us information on their company including rates, business hours, and health and safety policies, insurance details, and affiliations to associations such as Registered Master Electricians and several references from their clients for us to check. Out of the 10 calls each week we generally only receive one email with all the information we requested.  Bear in mind we have yet to meet the business owners and negotiate an understanding that we can work together and mutually benefit from that relationship. So let’s take a...

Everything you need to know about Holiday Maintenance

Everything you need to know about Holiday Maintenance
With Christmas looming fast and the prospect of some sun, surf, and relaxation on most of our minds, now is a good time to ensure you have your rental maintenance, or for that matter even home maintenance, covered for the break and into 2010. There are some basic issues that many landlords overlook at this time of year that include burglar alarms if they are installed, security checks and providing emergency call-out numbers for tenants if the property is not managed by a property manager Even remembering small things like ensuring the tenant knows where the water main is on the property and how to shut it off, and where the electrical switchboard is and how to turn on and off the breakers. Burglar Alarms If these are not monitored, are they actually working and have they been recently tested? (i.e. are the batteries working?).  The cost of a service call-out is minimal, just make sure you use a reputable company and someone local to the property if they need to attend again to keep your costs down. However, if your alarm is monitored, make sure it has been serviced and that the company monitoring it is actually doing just that (you pay for this service).  Always make sure there are stickers on your windows and doors giving full warning that the property is alarmed, as most burglars want an easy life so will move on to the next property.  Make sure tenants and neighbours have the alarm company’s details in case the alarm is faulty so it can be sorted without you needing to be involved. Security Some...

Wising up on maintenance

Wising up on maintenance
o many property investors I meet and talk to don’t grasp the concept that property investing is a business and first and foremost, should be run like one. Your revenue is your rental income and expenses are your mortgage, property management fees, rates and property maintenance.  This will leave you with either a profit or loss dependant on how you run your business. When buying a property, maintenance should always be factored into your costs on an annual basis. This figure may range from $500 for a new home with a builder’s guarantee where you may simply have gardens to maintain or trees to be trimmed: or simply an annual gutter clean and house wash. However, if your property is an older dwelling, there will most definitely be more maintenance on probably all aspects of the property, at some stage. So how do you prepare and plan for annual maintenance and budget for those cost accordingly? I recommend that you either carry out an annual maintenance check on your property yourself – Branz produce a fantastic publication called” Maintaining Your Home”. Those of you who are of a DIY nature will find everything you need to prepare and plan maintenance of your investment properties inside, with clear guidelines and which jobs you should and shouldn’t take on and why. For those of us who prefer to leave it to the experts, there are many companies such as ours who will provide a detailed report for as little as $169 which you can then tell us to plan your maintenance and budget based on professional advice in regard to timeframes...