Regular inspections and the performance of routine maintenance are the key to minimising stress and expense as a landlord. Problems that aren’t tackled early on are liable to end up escalating to costly, even dangerous situations.
And that’s just for you as a landlord; tenants are unlikely to remain in your properties for long if they become dangerous or uncomfortable to live in. Of course, beyond practical considerations, there is also a legal framework in place to ensure that the minimum level of maintenance is performed by landlords, when it comes to rental properties.
We have summarised these below, as well as providing a checklist of both the tools you may require, and the key aspects of your rental property that you’ll need to inspect and maintain as a landlord.
Legal maintenance responsibilities of a Landlord
Tenants are entitled to at least 24 hours’ notice before an inspection/maintenance visit; though you are entitled to enter with less/no notice in the event of emergencies. As a landlord you are legally responsible for:
The exterior of the property; including guttering, chimney stacks, and roof tiles
Ensuring that fire regulations are followed, in relation to both the property itself and furniture included within it
The safety of electrical fixtures and equipment provided with the property
Regular gas inspections by certified professionals, as well as the necessary repairs highlighted as a result
However, another legal stipulation upon landlords is that the property that you are letting is safe and free from health hazards. Most of your maintenance efforts will be aimed at fulfilling this legal imperative, or satisfying your ongoing need as a landlord to keep your tenants content within your property.
To ably execute your maintenance tasks as a landlord, it’s useful to have a standing supply of DIY tools and materials at the ready. The list below is not totally comprehensive, but it should allow you to deal with everyday problems, and stabilise most property emergencies.
Nails, screws, bolts (miscellaneous sizes, you never know what you might need!)
Protective equipment (gloves, mask, goggles, overalls)
Paint (keep a record of the specific colours and varieties used around your properties!)
Selection of paint brushes and rollers
Selection of glue
Maintenance inspections – what to look out for
You may not have provided your tenants with every item found on this lists, but it’s useful to have a reminder in regards to amenities such as white goods and phone lines, should you have included them with your rental property.
The majority of spaces within a given property will require you to be mindful of the same maintenance principles and warning signs; often common-sense indicators of potentially larger problems.
Walls/doors - Check for evidence of mould and damp; as well as damage to the paintwork or masonry. Door hinges and handles should be checked for function; i.e. do locks or hinges need an oil?
Locks - Special attention needs to be provided to locks, especially those in shared houses, or those present on external openings. If they don’t function, they need to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
Carpets and floors - Check for evidence of damage or staining/excess dirt.
Switches, light fixtures and power points - Ensure that each functions as it should, and that none have been tampered with or damaged.
Windows, blinds/curtains - Check the window’s opening mechanism functions as it should (if there is one), as well as for signs of damage and excess dirt. Blinds and curtains should also be checked for damage or a lack of tenant care, with special note being given to whether or not they constitute a serious fire hazard in their current placement or configuration.
Radiators - Check that cleanliness is maintained around the radiators (it’s easy for dirt to collect behind them), and that there are no leaks. Any impairment to the function of a property’s central heating should be fixed as soon as possible, by you or a plumber, in order to maintain the safety and comfort of the property.
Sink - Ensure a good level of hygiene, and make sure that there are no leaks. Taps should be tested to ensure their function, and repaired/replaced as necessary.
Oven/Hob - Cleanliness is essential here, a poorly maintained oven is not only a potential health hazard, but will degrade in efficiency until it no longer works. The same is true for hobs. Take especial care to check for leaks in the case of gas powered oven and hobs; overlooking these could result in particularly severe damage to the property, or injury to tenants.
Fridge/freezer - As well as checking that the fridge or freezers are functioning as efficiently as they should, care should also be taken to ensure that tenants are maintaining a good level of hygiene within. If it’s apparent that the freezer is not regularly defrosted, this also needs to be addressed.
Dishwasher - Check for the presence of leaks, and deal with any blockages; while also ensuring that tenants have been taking appropriate levels of care with its use.
Washing machine - Check for the presence of leaks, and look for evidence of mould/mildew; while also ensuring that tenants have been taking appropriate levels of care with its use.
Microwave - Ensure that the microwave has been regularly cleaned. Replace the bulb, if necessary.
Bath/Shower - Cracking and damage are the foremost things to look out for here, to avoid costlier damage down the line if the house is flooded! Excess mould and mildew are also something to keep an eye out for around the tub or shower cabinet; large amounts indicate that tenants aren’t taking quite as much care as they should be.
Sink - Damage to the basin or taps could eventually become larger problems, so ensure that these are fixed. Also ensure that a suitable level of cleanliness has been maintained.
Toilet - An essential part of any residence, any impairment to normal function needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Roof - While keeping an eye out for obvious holes and leaks, care should also be taken to find and reinforce any loose tiles. Check the security of aerials, dishes and chimneys, making sure that they’re not in any serious danger of coming loose or falling.
Guttering - Check that guttering remains securely attached to the property, while also ensuring that any blockages are cleared.
Drains - Check for, and clear, any blockages.
Fences/walls - The main things to check for here are integrity and safety; any loose brickwork or wood needs to be either reattached, or removed and replaced. If a wall or fence is compromised to the extent that they’re on the verge of falling over, they need to be shored up and secured before they cause someone injury, or damage your property further! However, you need to be sure which fences and walls are your responsibility, and which are those of neighbouring property owners.
Utilities, safety devices and miscellaneous
Boiler - Regular inspection and maintenance is key to avoiding expensive leaks, or depriving tenants of warmth and hot water.
Smoke alarms - The maintenance of smoke alarms is critical to the safety of tenants, and the preservation of your property; ensure that they have plenty of battery life, and that they’ve been fully tested.
Water pipes/gas pipes/electrical wires - The integrity of the above must be maintained to preserve the safety of tenants, and the long term viability of the property itself.
Phone/television/internet - If any of the above, or connections to any of the above, were provided by you, ensure that none are damaged.
Rubbish bins - Damage to rubbish bins is unlikely; this is more a check as to whether or not they’re still present!
Keys - Ascertain how many sets of keys are held by occupants, and make sure that you can account for any differences between that number and the original amount.
Attic space - Inspect for holes, leaks, or pest infestations, while also maintaining the integrity of loft insulation. Fungus, mould or rot should also be dealt with as a matter of urgency.