One of the most vital factors for property investors to consider is the importance of maintenance schedules or systems for their rental property.

The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act (RTRAA) requires that at the start of a tenancy, a residential property should be clean, fit for a tenant to live in, that the premises and inclusions are in a good repair, and the landlord is not in breach of any health or safety law.

Property managers have a clear legal responsibility to tenants to be diligent about property condition so landlords must be prepared to commit to an ongoing maintenance schedule and any ongoing costs associated with this.

As with your own home, a certain amount of wear and tear is unavoidable. During a tenancy, property managers may recommend a repairs and maintenance program to a landlord to ensure the property remains in its best condition.

Examples of planned maintenance can include budgeting to paint internally every five to seven years; cleaning gutters regularly; ensuring adequate tiling in the kitchen, laundry and bathroom areas; replacing floor coverings every seven to eight years; continually assessing the security features of the property; and annual termite inspections.

Landlords should also consider conducting repairs that will effectively reduce or prevent continual “breakdown repairs” which are both unexpected and unbudgeted.

To ensure the safety of tenants, and to reduce the likelihood of small maintenance problems becoming big serious ones, it is critical that property managers have a reliable maintenance system in place.

The system should begin with the initial notification from the tenant, which is followed through to payment for completion of the work by a licensed professional who has adequate professional indemnity and public liability cover.

When it comes to emergency or routine repairs, it is best practice for property manager to seek written instructions from the landlord – unless they have been instructed to proceed with repairs up to a certain expenditure limit.

It is also a legal requirement that property managers keep landlords informed of any developments or issues in relation to their property.

Under the RTRAA, emergency repairs include situations such as a burst water service or a serious water service leak; a gas leak; a dangerous electrical fault; flooding or serious flood damage; or serious storm, fire or impact damage.

Property managers are legally required to take immediate action to effect emergency repairs. They must act on routine repairs within seven days of being notified by the tenant.

Source : REIQ (8 November 2012)