Property Management Q&A: Repairs and Maintenance Issues

By
30/10/2014

REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE ISSUE
Q My property manager has advised me that I need to replace the existing water heater that is about 40 years old. I was quoted $2,000 to remove and replace the unit, which I find a bit excessive in my personal experience. I am also concerned that the manager is only using what seems to be their ‘preferred’ tradesman, even though I requested more than one quote. How do I know the property manager is actually working on my side and not just getting their mates or the first tradesman they find to do the job?

A Every property manager should have a list of fully qualified and licensed 'tradies' from which they can choose for maintaining clients' properties. they should have all the required paperwork, including copies of the tradesman's licence and insurance cover policies, and these should be reviewed every year. If something was to go sour or an incident to occur and an unlicensed tradie had conducted work at your property, you could find yourself in a bit of hot water, so it pays to ensure your property manager is following this protocol. 

Ensuring the proper people are doing the job is also the responsibility of the agent, which is why they usually offer the service of their preferred tradespeople first.

Often the agent has built a long-term relationship and a high degree of trust with these tradespeople, for which in turn they may be offered more competitive rates. I know that with my tradespeople, I have known and used many of them for a number of years. The mutually beneficial business relationship means that I am lucky enough to receive the same rates all year round for my clients, whether it be within business hours or after. This is not to mention the unquestionable confidence I have in their reliability and confidence that they will always get the job done right. 

In saying all of the above, you should have total confidence that your property manager is doing the right thing by you. If you have made the request for them to obtain another quote or quotes for you, they should honour this and do it.

If you have any doubts, shop around yourself by enquiring over the phone with some suppliers. Simply give them the dimensions of your hot water system for a quote, and their answers will let you know just how well your property manager is working for your property and you.

– Nicole Keene

LATE PAYMENT FROM PROPERTY MANAGEMENT COMPANY 

Q I’ve been regularly receiving late payments from one of my property managers – usually by at least a couple of days after the due date. Is this normal? The other managers are always prompt and often pay at least two days in advance. What can I do to get this manager to pay on time?

A This may or may not be a cause for concern, so it is important to get all of the facts laid out first. How long has this been happening for, and how long have you been using this property manager?

If you have just begun to use them, it may take a few payments for the banks to recognise that you are a regular recipient of funds from a trust account, so it may take a little time before you start to receive your payments as soon as they are processed.

Secondly, you should find out from your property manager if they are processing your payments on time. As soon as a payment is processed you should be receiving the funds cleared into your account no later than the following business day.

I suggest contacting your property manager and confirming  exactly when they process your payments (due date).

Find out if it is once at the end of the month, twice a month or weekly, and confirm on what dates/days they are processed. This will also let them know that you are keeping a close eye on your payments, without the need for a confrontation.

While some property managers are not very flexible with their payment processing dates, others are, so be sure to talk to them to clarify their procedures. If you require your funds prior to the end of the month, you should find out if they can establish mid-monthly or weekly payments for you instead. At Blink Property, we deal with some very serious and savvy investors who keep a very close eye on their cash flow, so we offer our clients the choice of mid-monthly or weekly payments to suit their needs.

– Nathan Birch

Q I’m looking to appoint a new property manager after having an unsatisfactory relationship with my previous manager. Should I go local or consider the bigger agencies? What are the pros and cons of each?

A With new and improved technology at our fingertips every day, we have almost unlimited access to information about potential service providers, so give yourself plenty of time to do your research. As with many industries, the property management market is highly competitive and is therefore held to a very high standard by clients, so the pros and cons of a local versus a national agency are not as clear-cut as they used to be.

With the state of the industry in mind, you should focus on your own circumstances, needs and preferences when it comes to selecting your property manager. Think of this like a job interview, but for your valued property investment(s). You are going to employ someone who is going to look after one of your most prized possessions, so make the time to get it right! You should carefully prepare for the interview process by preparing questions and the answers you want to hear, maybe by taking a look at some of our previous Blink Q&A’s here in YIP magazine. Careful preparation will increase your chances of hiring a property manager whom you feel comfortable with, trust and who will get the best results for you, whether they are a local or national agent.

In the experience of our office, we have found that  national agencies are increasing in popularity with the more knowledgeable and savvy investors. This route is particularly popular with those who have multiple properties in their portfolio, as this gives them one trusted agent to deal with for all of the areas in which their properties are located.

– Nicole Keene

 

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