One of the things we can always count on when managing residential property, is that handling maintenance will be a regular item to deal with. As maintenance is such an important part of owning investment property, it’s essential that any maintenance issue, big or small, must be handled appropriately. Often there are time frames for the completion of maintenance items, which makes it even more important that issues are resolved as soon as possible – if we don’t comply with the Residential Tenancies Act in relation to rental properties, there are serious consequences.
- Non-urgent repairs must be attended to within 14 days from when they are reported by the tenants. If repairs are not attended to, tenants are able to send a copy of the written notice to Consumer Affairs Victoria, with a letter asking for an inspector to visit the property. The inspector can fill out a report on whether the landlord/agent is in breach of the their duty to ensure that the premises are maintained in good repair. If the repairs still have not been done after the tenant has received the inspection report, they then have 60 days to apply to VCAT for a repair Order.
- Urgent repairs must be dealt with by the landlord/agent immediately. If these are not attended to immediately, a tenant can authorise the urgent repair for up to $1800.00. Tenants can then ask for the cost of the urgent repair to be paid back to them. If that doesn’t happen there are obviously consequences. Considering these are urgent repairs, it’s hard to understand why they wouldn’t be dealt with immediately, but obviously the legislation is there for a reason and it must be happening!
As we are fundamentally an investment property company, a lot of our properties are new and subsequently have warranties in place for different items within a property. We are very conscious of the importance of ensuring that any maintenance or repair item that is under warranty, is dealt with by the relevant builder – and attended to within the required time frame. Sometimes, it can be difficult to make a builder understand that the work is definitely a warranty issue – and not caused by the tenant! It’s very easy to blame a tenant to avoid attending the property and fixing the issue. If anything is caused by a tenant, we would be dealing with them ourselves and making sure they bear the cost of the work. This can and does happen, but we are certainly able to work out what has been caused by a tenant and what is a warranty issue.
We also understand that it’s important that the builders accept their responsibilities. Our job is to identify items that are still under warranty, so that the property owner is not incurring a cost that is simply not their problem. If it’s under warranty, it’s the builder’s problem.
We had an instance recently where an owner transferred management of his property from us to another agency, as the other agency was offering substantial ‘discounts’. That’s fine, everyone is entitled to make their own decision. But a month after we had transferred the property, the owner contacted us to arrange the warranty maintenance as his new property manager was not prepared to do that! Apart from the fact that he had removed our right to do anything with the property, it’s the new property manager’s job to handle maintenance – of any description.
Warranty maintenance can be incredibly difficult to coordinate, organise, and finalise. Undoubtedly! But it’s any property manger’s job to do what is required to make sure the problem is rectified. This is not the first time that we’ve been told that property managers will do ‘normal’ maintenance, but certainly won’t attend to any warranty issue – they either pass it back to the property owner, or in some case they’ve arranged for the work to be done by another tradesperson and the cost has been passed on to the owner. That’s certainly very unfair to the owner and not why they engage someone to manage their property.
So, maintenance is an ongoing task that we at Investors Direct Property Management take pride in handling properly for our valued clients. From both non-urgent and urgent things that happen, through to warranty issues that present a very different set of difficulties to handle, it’s all part of managing residential property!
It’s our job and our passion. If you’d like a property management company who takes their responsibility for maintenance seriously, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org