This month I want to discuss the effects that different seasons can have on your investment property and what we, as property managers need to focus on during the winter months.
The recent cold snap we’ve all been experiencing has, not surprisingly, had us all running our heaters on high. The same will be true with most of our tenants. Like any appliance that is put under constant heavy use, this is when a heating unit is most likely to develop problems. Winter is the time when ducted heating units or split air conditioning systems, solar panels and water pipes can experience problems which may mean maintenance is required. It’s when the weather is at its most extreme that these units are put under the most pressure and can fail, causing what can be an "emergency" situation.
During my years in property management I have experienced solar panels cracking during periods of extreme cold and even had water in pipes freeze, causing them to crack. So I was not surprised during the recent cold weather to see this happening again. Naturally, tenants are never happy when their ducted heating system fails during cold weather. While most of our properties have not only ducted heating but split system air conditioning units that can both cool and heat, if your tenant has a young baby or a sick child, this may not be enough to keep the whole house warm while they are waiting for the ducted system to be repaired. And while its fairly rare in Australia to have water pipes burst due to extreme cold, it can and does happen in our colder regions. Again, it’s very difficult for families with babies and young children to cope when the water is turned off! It’s also difficult for elderly people to cope without heating, hot water or no water at all.
So you can see how the weather can affect your property and your tenants. As property managers, maintenance is something we deal with on a daily basis. It’s actually one of the most important parts of our job. At Investors Direct Property Management, all our maintenance requests are handled through our Console property management system so that we have a complete record of all maintenance requests, work orders and any follow up required. This is all very important to ensure we can track any re-occurring maintenance issues, as well as any warranty maintenance being performed, which of course is quite different to ‘normal’ maintenance. It’s important that when maintenance is needed where there is a warranty in place, that it’s actually arranged or completed during that warranty period.
We became aware recently that some other property managers are not handling warranty maintenance issues on behalf of their landlords, some of whom don’t even live in Victoria. This is something I really can’t understand. At Investors Direct Property Management we fully believe it’s our job to handle these warranty issues for our property owners/landlords – as that’s what we’re paid to do. It’s a different matter if a landlord wants to handle certain warranty items but in our view, property managers are simply not providing an appropriate service to their clients unless they handle ALL forms of maintenance – ‘normal’ as well as warranty items. From a property management perspective, I would want to know exactly what’s happening with that property and whether the maintenance is being attended to properly, in the right time frame and within the boundaries of legislation. Unless a property manager takes control of maintenance, how can they be fully aware of what’s happening with their tenants or the properties they are responsible for? Certainly food for thought and again from a property management perspective, the potential for problems in a number of areas would be a concern.
It’s a property manager’s job to handle all maintenance, ‘normal’ and ‘warranty’ – even when the weather plays a huge part in the process, as it is doing now!!