If you own, manage, or rent a property in the UK, you’ll surely enjoy some benefits. But that also brings a certain responsibility, such as proper maintenance for your house, flat, multi-apartment building, or condominium, whether you live there or rent it.
Regular property care is the best way to preserve your rental investment; therefore, you might want to dig in to know how to maintain your property so it doesn’t lose its value.
What Exactly Is Property Care?
Property care is a set of tasks and jobs the property owner performs to ensure safe and comfortable living for themselves and other tenants. It implies proactive and reactive activities related to building hygiene, the level of security in it, and, in general, everything that ensures optimal living conditions.
Maintaining your property in good condition is important because:
- It makes your property more valuable.
- It prevents major problems and costly repairs.
- It attracts and retains good buyers/tenants.
- It preserves the property surroundings, thus making them safer and more comfortable.
- It lowers the risks of accidents and injuries due to poor upkeep.
- It reduces liability risks for owners.
Property maintenance is essential for different types of real estate and those who own or manage them, such as:
- Companies dealing with selling or renting flats in building complexes.
- Care homes.
Property care is of great importance for all real estate investments since they need to be properly maintained to preserve their market value and bring a return on investment as early as possible.
Homeowners take care of their properties, and so do the lessees. Their responsibility is limited by the lease agreement, so in most cases, facility managers or landlords are in charge of fixing repairs in rental and commercial real estate. They can outsource maintenance tasks to certified technicians and independent contractors, depending on the work scope.
Performing regular property maintenance serves to beautify, clean, and secure buildings where people live and work. It includes interior and exterior tasks ranging from roof repairs to pest issues. But for starters, it’s all a matter of good planning and making a schedule for routine property care, which can prevent many problems before they escalate.
Having a good schedule for all the work you want to perform on your property will help you do everything on time before a lack of care causes severe problems. With a sound plan, you can organise regular system checks and maintenance to stay on top of potential issues.
Making a schedule is simple. You have to list all tasks, how often they should be done, and who’s in charge. Keep in mind that no schedule will be the same, as properties of different ages and conditions have different maintenance needs. Also, remember to review and update your schedule every once in a while.
Make sure to implement safety checks in your schedule. Security systems in your property should be fully-functional, so check fire alarms, smoke detectors, and extinguishers regularly.
Well-maintained property has a high market value, which isn’t the same thing as its sale value. But these are connected somehow since real estate with solid marketability can get a better price, but not vice versa. You can determine any price for your house, but it doesn’t mean you can sell it fast.
Marketability matters for people who plan to list their property for sale and landlords who want to stay competitive with rental rates. Buyers and tenants always look for a price-quality ratio, i.e., what they get for the price they pay. And a great first impression of your well-maintained property can “lock” them with your offer.
A common maintenance task is arranging a patio. Patios beautify your property, and they’re also functional because people won’t step on grass and mud and spread it all around. Ensure your outdoor area is well-lit, too, to add security to it.
Investing in proper outdoor lighting can also boost your property value without costing you an arm and a leg. For instance, solar lamps can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly add-on to your patio.
Pest control refers to detecting and eliminating risks to human health from rodents and bugs. These unwanted tenants in your property can significantly spoil the air quality, contribute to the bacteria spread, and damage the building structure, so it’s good to get rid of them before they cause damage.
Disinfection should be on your list of regular property maintenance tasks. The list should also include occasional check-ups of places where this pest can appear. If there are any cracks and holes, solve them fast to prevent infestation. Also, daily activities, such as trash removal and leaf cleaning, can contribute to pest prevention.
Exterior maintenance usually refers to cleaning and upkeep of all external surfaces to make them look good. It starts from a roof and goes all across the walls, including regular wall repainting, fencing, drain unclogging, and some unusual tasks like tile washing and graffiti removal.
The effort you invest in your property aesthetics will pay off. Regular property maintenance boosts curb appeal and increases the value of your real estate, whether you sell or rent it.
Property maintenance is a comprehensive field. That’s why problems can happen anywhere, at any time. These can be as small as a scratch on the wall and peeling paint or as complex as malfunctions on the electrical, plumbing, or sewage lines. Some are more common, some less.
Plumbing system troubles are at the top of most frequent maintenance failures. This system features a complex network of pipes and fixtures, which must work in harmony to ensure optimal water supply and drainage. If well-maintained, everything will work flawlessly.
However, plumbing problems can occur despite regular upkeep. Leaky pipes, dripping sinks, and blocked toilets are common failures that require interventions. Many things can cause these problems, like worn-out pipes, temperature changes, dirt deposits and solid items blocking water flow, etc.
Responsibility for solving water leaks depends on where these originated. If the problem is on the central pipework that supplies the entire building, the repair is on freeholders or property management companies.
If the plumbing problem pops up in a single flat (for instance, a burst pipe in the wall), the leaseholder pays for solving it. They must notify a landlord first and then find a certified plumber to handle this job.
Electrical failures can be dangerous, and they often happen in buildings with old, faulty, irregularly maintained, or overloaded lines. Tripping fuses, burning out circuits, blowing bulbs, voltage changes, and appliance failures are common problems with this system.
Also, too many appliances on a single electrical line can cause overloading, leading to electrical surges and power outages. Frequent voltage changes and unstable power supply cause short circuits and blown fuses.
Routine property care minimises electrical failures and protects properties and tenants from safety hazards. A freeholder must take care of these, as a part of regular property care, and all defects that aren’t the tenant’s fault.
Still, if tenants’ negligence causes electrical breakdowns, they’ll bear the costs of electrical repairs themselves. Luckily, they can prevent these problems by using power and appliances responsibly.
Because it’s exposed to the elements and external factors, the roof often suffers damage and requires regular repairs, upgrades, and timely replacement. Small damages, such as broken or missing shingles, rooting fascias, and blocked gutters, cause leaks, but these can be detected and fixed in time with regular property care.
The roof’s role is to protect the building interior and keep the supporting structure as a whole. It requires regular maintenance to stay in good condition as long as possible. Routine roof inspection at least once or twice a year and timely repairs will extend its lifespan.
If you own and live in a single-family home, you hire certified contractors for any roofing issue. On the other hand, if you’re a leaseholder in a flat, you’re in charge of fixing leaks on your balcony or porch. You have to pay for these repairs, as stated in your lease agreement.
Freeholders are responsible for keeping the buildings’ main roof structure and all common roofing areas in good shape. For regular roof inspections and repairs, they employ in-house roofers or hire roofing contractors. In that case, leaseholders don’t have extra costs, as these repairs are included in property maintenance fees.
Moisture and mould aren’t always visible at first glance, but they can be present in buildings for a long time, causing damage and posing a risk to tenants’ health. These concerns usually go hand in hand, resulting from initial plumbing or HVAC problems like hidden leaks, congestion, or dirty filters.
In older and poorly maintained buildings, mould and moisture generally preexist, and it’s a matter of time before the black marks will pop up on walls, floors, or ceilings. By that point, they can do structural damage, especially on porous materials like wood or drywalls.
Mould inhabits dark and humid areas, so you’ll usually find it in basements, dark and musty hallways, and common areas that aren’t used often. But it spreads quickly and can get into flats in no time.
Freeholders must regularly inspect their property for mould and handle this issue by calling mould remediators. These professionals will stop further infestation spread and solve the current problem.
Pests can be a big problem, especially in multi-family buildings and condominium complexes, where locating a problem source can be tricky. These units share walls and floors that ease pest spread, which is worsened by poor hygiene and improper building maintenance.
After determining the pest issue, the landlord should call exterminators. If bugs and rodents have “occupied” the territory, pest control experts will isolate the problematic flat or the entire building to carry out the pest removal treatment. Eventually, they’ll share advice on proper pest prevention.
A pest inspection as part of regular property care is necessary to stay ahead of this problem. If there’s a need for this intervention out of the schedule, landlords must notify tenants about that, so they can prepare and leave their flats during the extermination.
Subsidence and structural settlement often occur on buildings, damaging their structure or making them sink into the ground. These problems happen due to construction that doesn’t follow building codes and also natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes. Other triggers are poorly maintained plumbing, sewage, and gutters.
Both subsidence and settlement make visible cracks. Minor ones can’t damage your property and can easily be solved with specialised fillers or caulk. Subsidence creates larger cracks that affect the building’s structure, stability, and safety.
With good property maintenance, subsidence and structural settlement can be controlled. For example, regular tree pruning will prevent a large amount of moisture in the soil. Also, prompt plumbing and gutter checks detect leaks that dampen the soil and make it unstable.
HVAC systems usually break down in winter and summer when mostly in use. They should be ready for these seasons to reduce the risk of failure. For instance, ensure filters, coils, and ductwork are clean, refrigerant levels are optimal, and your thermostat is functional.
Before the season, freeholders or property managers should call HVAC technicians. They’ll inspect HVACs, clean everything, and fix minor faults to prevent them from becoming more complex and costlier.
Water harm is a frequent problem in buildings that aren’t properly maintained since the moisture issue isn’t always easy to solve. It can be there for years or even decades, causing a specific smell of mouldy old buildings and poor air quality.
Many things trigger water damage and not just a faulty plumbing system. The reason can also be bad weather, low-quality carpentry, or poor insulation.
This problem can occur anywhere in the building, and landlords or property managers should investigate it. They’ll Inspect the property and possible problem sources. But many times, they find “culprits” in negligent tenants.
Electrical wiring has a lifetime, so when it wears out after a while, it no longer performs at optimal levels but causes network failures. And it’s the landlords’ responsibility to keep this system functional and secure.
Not spotting and solving wiring issues on time can put landlords and property managers in trouble, as faulty wiring isn’t just inconvenient but also dangerous. That can make rental units inhabitable, which is a mere profit loss and a significant impact on the property value.
Regular wiring check-ups as a part of routine property care will indicate when it’s time for re-wiring. It’s highly recommended to ensure a safe electricity supply and enough capacity for appliances in all units.
The problem with ventilation is usually dirty filters that reduce the room air quality and can be a health risk. The stench, indoor pollutants, condensation, mould, and poor air supply can also appear, threatening the convenience and comfort of living in rental units.
Landlords should ensure that all vents inside the property are fully operational. It means cleaning and inspecting for repairs at least once a year as a part of scheduled maintenance. At the same time, they should educate tenants and warn them about the importance of proper ventilation use to avoid condensation and excess moisture.
People with different habits and lifestyles live in the same buildings, so disagreements can occur. Landlords can have disputes with tenants, and tenants can confront each other. Many things can be disputed subjects, from shared facilities and maintenance responsibility to noise and landscaping.
The freeholder or property management company must take care of the building exterior, shared facilities, yard, and in most cases, the flats they rent. They’re responsible for repairs if damage or breakdown in leased properties didn’t happen due to the tenant’s negligence. In the opposite case, the lessee pays repair costs.
That’s often the moment of disagreement because both sides will claim the opposite. Concrete blame for, for example, moisture and mould, is hard to prove. It can be an unrepaired leak on the main pipeline, which is the landlord’s obligation, or neglected housekeeping on the tenant’s side.
The problem is prevented by a detailed lease agreement and double-checking it whenever tenants and a landlord disagree. It states in detail what the responsibilities of each party are, so it prevents future conflicts.
Since landlords and property managers are responsible for regular property care, they manage the budget and determine how these tasks will be performed. They can employ in-house staff like janitors, cleaning teams, etc. Or they can outsource these services to companies that deal with property maintenance.
As long as tenants report maintenance issues to landlords on time, they won’t bear extra costs. However, they can be charged if they cause damage through their negligence, or a landlord can keep a portion of their security deposit. If that happens, there may be disputes with landlords about the amount of damage costs, which can sometimes be very high.
Landlords should solve this problem by inspecting the apartment along with the tenant and jointly finding the best solution. If there’s a disagreement about the repair costs, both parties should look for a contractor to repair the damage. That way, both will have insight into the structure of repair costs.
Boundary issues are a frequent problem that rental property owners encounter, and they can arise due to dilapidated fences, shared sidewalks and driveways, etc. Some conflicts can escalate so that, for example, a neighbour forbids the passage of your tenant’s car, directly threatening their rights as leaseholders on your property.
These situations are awkward because interpersonal relationships are on the test. However, good communication and relations with your neighbours can be the right way to act. You two should try to solve the problem without involving tenants.
If the situation is the opposite, that is, if your tenant’s actions on your property somehow threaten your neighbour’s rights, you must inform leaseholders about the property boundaries.
In both cases, if the discussion doesn’t solve the problem, a local council will be involved. The side they find guilty can pay high penalties. Going to court should be your last resort, as it can cost you a lot and ruin your neighbourly relations, so whenever possible, try to solve boundary disputes on your own.
Shared amenities and facilities in rental properties serve for entertainment, enjoyment, and needs of all lessees. But these areas are often the subject of disagreements. Some may claim they have more rights than others. Others can claim these areas because, for example, they maintain them.
Again, the lease agreement comes to the rescue. It clearly states which premises are for joint use and which are private property. Tenants can verbally agree otherwise, but if there’s a need to prove ownership over these amenities and facilities, the only valid document is a lease.
Tenants usually point out noise and disturbance, and the problem arises when several parties complain about the same thing. In this case, landlords should studiously approach the problem.
Freeholders or property managers should find the source and determine if there’s a valid reason for the complaint. For instance, a crying baby isn’t a controllable noise, while loud music is. If so, the problem should be solved on both sides, not by confrontation but individually.
The complaining party should get suggestions to reduce the noise impact, like installing party walls. As for the source, they should be confronted with the problem they make and explain how it affects other tenants. Ask them to solve the problem on their own (for example, turn down the music, quiet the conversation, or put rugs on the floor).
Damage caused by accident or tenant’s negligence isn’t the same as regular property wear-and-tear. As landlords and lessees may have different understandings of these concepts, there comes another reason for the dispute.
In general, any damage during the lessee’s stay in the rented apartment is their responsibility. These can be minor issues like furniture burnt by cigarette butts or bigger problems like a broken window. In any case, the tenant needs to repair or indemnify the landlord.
If the damage happened by accident and the tenant wasn’t directly responsible (for example, a plumber working at the neighbour’s flat accidentally made a hole in the wall), the landlord assumes the costs. They’ll collect it from the insurance or directly from the culprit.
The landlord must take care of the common areas, and the tenants must use them responsibly. That’s one of the critical lease details both parties agree on. So freeholders pay all costs for maintenance and necessary repairs of stairs, corridors, locker rooms, parking, swimming pool, etc.
Tenants can only be charged if they cause intentional damage to common areas and shared amenities. In any other case, the landlord can’t recover their expenses from lessees.
Repairs and improvements that landlords make in their properties won’t always be to the tenants’ liking. So they might want to fix that to adapt their new living space to themselves. But landlords expect to find the rented flat the way they left it.
Tenants shouldn’t do structural alterations and fixture installation as this jeopardises the rental. If they do it without the landlord’s knowledge, a problem arises if they can’t restore the leased property to its original condition. That’s a good reason for landlords to take legal action against lessees due to lease violations.
Still, if both parties agree, they can invest in property improvement together or separately. They just have to make it in writing as a landlord’s consent that proves their deal. This document prevents further disputes and determines ownership over installed and altered items.
Landscaping is a part of good property care, and lessees can do most outdoor maintenance tasks. But when it comes to tree trimming and pruning, they don’t have complete freedom. Maybe there’s a tree hitting the roof of the neighbouring house or a bush you’re allergic to—you must not remove any of these without the landlord’s consent.
Tree trimming is the landlord’s responsibility. Tenants can point out the problem this greenery creates. If it’s in the freeholder’s interest to keep lessees happy, they’ll call a professional tree removal service to handle this task.
Landlords must keep their rentals pest-free by conducting regular inspections, pest control, and property care. Thus, they make their property safe and free of health risks while protecting their investment.
But if these pests appear despite all care, the freeholder should approach solving the problem as soon as tenants report it. If, on the other hand, tenants’ negligence and unhygienic behaviour attracted rodents and bugs, the guilt is obvious.
The priority isn’t to find the culprit but fix the problem before the infestation spreads. After that, the landlord can claim cost recovery. So they should document the situation that may trigger pest invasion, such as a pile of garbage under the sink or improperly stored food.
The annual property care cost is usually 1% of its market value, or about £2,000 to £3,000. That would be the price you’ll pay if your property is within the average price range for UK real estate, which is a little over £200,000.
The more expensive real estate you own, the higher your annual maintenance costs will be. The price of £2,000 to £3,000 is how much you pay for regular care, inspections, and system checks on your property; every emergency intervention and repair will carry extra costs.
No, regular maintenance isn’t covered by insurance, but landlords can have policies that protect them from any damage occurring on their property during the rental period.
Yes, there are laws obliging landlords to have regularly checked and fully operative smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, a Gas Safety Certificate showing all gas appliances and lines are regularly checked and maintained, and the Housing Health and Safety Rating system as proof of rental property built and maintained by housing standards.
Your property is the most valuable thing you own, so you should protect, preserve, and increase the value of your investment. Routine property care brings many benefits in this regard, and if you want to add up to the comfort and safety of your house, flat, or building, get in touch to find out how we can help.