7 Ways to Reduce the Maintenance Costs of Your Buy-to-Let
A study conducted by Platinum Property Partners, a specialist buy-to-let business, estimated that the total average annual cost of a buy-to-let property, including all letting agency fees, maintenance repairs, marketing fees and mortgage interest, totalled £8,359.
Of this, repairs, refurbishment and decoration, exterior maintenance, cleaning costs and general maintenance amounted to £1,739 a year.
This research was conducted in 2015 and so, accounting for inflation, this number is likely to be up to around £2,000 per year, now.
So, what can be done to reduce maintenance costs for buy-to-let landlords?
Well, fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce these costs. Some are quick fixes, whilst others will take a little more time and a larger cash investment.
It’s always important to plan for the long term and often, if you invest wisely, you can drastically reduce your long-term maintenance costs with some clever investments.
1. Fix Water Leaks as Quickly as Possible
Leaky pipes and loose roof tiles should be fixed immediately. If they are left, the problem will only get worse and the cost of rectifying the damage is only going to go up – you could potentially be looking at thousands of pounds to fix the problem if your property is affected by damp.
So, it makes sense to react quickly to minor issues and prevent them from becoming major issues. Sticking to this rule will save you thousands of pounds and lots of future headaches.
2. Install Extractor Units
Installing extractor fans in bathrooms and kitchens will help to remove damp air and moisture from your property, which can contribute towards the formation of mould and damp.
The costs involved in installing extractor fans is relatively small, especially when you consider the potential cost of having to resolve damp issues. It will also help you to comply with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), so avoiding fines of up to £30,000. All in all, the minor cost of installing extractor fans is well worth the investment.
3. Install Shower Panels
Shower panels, usually made from laminated board or acrylic, are a great alternative to the traditional tiles and grout most bathrooms have.
Not only is the initial outlay much smaller, but shower panels will last far longer than traditional tiles and grout and won’t discolour, as grout joins normally do unless frequently cleaned. They are also easy for a DIYer to install, so you can avoid labour costs.
Shower panels can be installed to bathroom ceilings, too, helping to further prevent potential mould formation.
4. Install an Artificial Lawn
Installing artificial grass is a great way to reduce the maintenance costs of your buy-to-let property.
One of the things that is most often neglected by tenants is the garden. With artificial grass you’ll never need to worry about whether your garden has become a jungle through lack of maintenance from your tenants.
Installing artificial grass is a great way to invest in your buy-to-let, too, as it will help to increase the value of the property and enable you to demand high rentals. It will enhance the aesthetics of the property and appeal to a wider range of tenant, such as families, those with dogs and pets, those short on time and the elderly.
It will also make your garden a much more usable space that can be utilised throughout the year and, due to the fact that it’s completely mud-free, you can forget about muddy footprints ruining the carpets and flooring.
Finally, when it comes to the end of a tenancy, you’ll find there is much less work needed to get the property in order, ready for the next tenant, saving you both time and money.
5. Ensure You Have Adequate Home Security
It goes without saying that the last thing you want is for your buy-to-let to be burgled.
Not only will the thieves have stolen your tenants’ valuables, but it’s also very likely that damage will have been caused to your property in the process.
Although your insurance should pay out for the repair costs, you’ll still have an excess to pay. Therefore, investing in a little in-home security makes sense in the long run.
All external doors should be fitted with five-lever mortice deadlocks and all windows must have lockable handles.
Patio doors are frequent targets and, again, you should ensure that these have sufficiently robust locks; it may be worth upgrading to modern doors which tend to be more secure.
Security lights on both the front and the back of the property will also help to deter thieves and you may even wish to consider installing security cameras.
These days, you can pick up good quality IP cameras for as little as £40, and they’ll go a long way towards helping deter burglars.
An added benefit of securing your buy-to-let in this way may be that your home insurer offers you lower premiums.
6. Conduct Regular Inspections
As a landlord, it’s extremely important to conduct regular inspections of your property.
You’ll instantly be able to tell whether or not your current tenant is keeping up with the maintenance work. If they aren’t keeping on top of things, it may end up costing you money further down the line.
There may also be problems with the property that your tenant has yet to inform you of and what could initially have been a quick and easy fix may escalate into something costing you thousands of pounds to put right.
Regular inspections will mean that minor repairs can be carried out quickly and efficiently.
7. Use Good Quality Paint
When it comes to painting both the interior and exterior of your buy-to-let property, it pays to use good quality paint.
Although it may be tempting to opt for cheaper brands, good quality paint will last longer, look better and be less likely to become chipped or peel or flake. This makes good quality paint cheaper in the long run.
Additionally, it’s very important to always use the correct paint for the intended surface.
If you are painting wood, be sure to choose a paint that is designed to be used on wood. The same goes for other types of surface, such as plaster, brick or tile. Different surfaces require different types of paint and using the wrong type might not just look bad, but also cause work and cost money as it has to be removed and the job done again with the right paint.
It may seem obvious, but it’s a mistake that frequently occurs, nonetheless.
And, don’t forget to make a note of exactly which paint you have used where – in case you need to ‘touch up’ anything in the future.
When owning a buy-to-let property, you really need to know your numbers.
If you let maintenance costs spiral out of control, you may find that you are not making as much money as you thought.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways in which you can reduce the maintenance needed for your buy-to-let property, saving you hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a year.
What other ideas do you have to help reduce the maintenance costs of a buy-to-let property? We’d love to know your thoughts and so would our readers, so don’t forget to leave your tips and ideas in the comments section below.