Putting Value into Property Management

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Was that wine stain really on the carpet before? Are you sure?

14th January 2013
How should a Property Inspection Report deal with a wine stain? Find out how to nip these kinds of issues in the bud – without being out of pocket.

How should a Property Inspection Report deal with a wine stain? Find out how to nip these kinds of issues in the bud – without being out of pocket.

So far you’ve learnt that a detailed Property Inspection Report helps to set the tone of the relationship with your tenant – and you’ve had a glimpse of what makes a good, detailed Report.

What you may not know is that a detailed Report can save you a good deal of money and hassle in the long run!

How a Property Inspection Report can save you money

One of the demarcations in property management is the line between “damage” and “reasonable wear and tear”: the latter is permissible (and is paid for by the property owner), but the former isn’t (and is paid for by the tenant).

Tenants have the right to enjoy the property, and chattels and fixtures don’t last forever. But damaging the property is a no-no.

However, a Property Inspection Report that’s lacking in detail will make it easier for a tenant to claim they didn’t cause the damage. But if the property manager does have good records, they’re far more likely to be able to prove that the tenant did cause the damage, and seek payment from the tenant for the repair work.

Example: red wine stain on a beige carpet

A typical Property Inspection Report may describe a beige lounge carpet as “worn”. This is a very ambiguous statement indeed! A carpet may be worn, and be stained. Or it may be worn, but will be clean and stain-free.

So if a glass of red wine were to be spilt on this beige carpet, it would be very ambiguous if the “worn” carpet is already stained or not (without specific mention of stains). Therefore it would be very easy indeed for the tenant to claim, “We didn’t do that!” Consequently, the property owner is then likely to be saddled with the cost of carpet cleaning or repair of the carpet, simply because the Property Inspection Report is too ambiguous and inaccurate.

(Or if the case were to go to Tenancy Tribunal, chances are the tenant would be favoured.)

This kind of scenario is common place, yet the property owner could easily protect themselves from this with a more detailed Property Inspection Report that’s backed up with photographic records. This way, there’s less opportunity for tenants to argue that the “damage” occurred outside their tenancy.

This way, with a detailed Property Inspection Report and a process for monitoring damage, repair work can be undertaken to keep the property in good condition.

Getting repairs done immediately will also save you money and hassle

By having a process where damage is always monitored throughout the tenancy (rather than just at the beginning and end of a tenancy), the landlord will always be able to address damage as it occurs. A detailed Property Inspection Report is a valuable tool in this process. And this is important, as damage should be fixed as soon as possible.

Why should damage be fixed as soon as possible?

Damage should be tended to immediately, as tenants have the highest level of motivation to take responsibility for their actions while they need to maintain their tenancy.

Conversely, they are least interested or motivated at the end of the tenancy. So if a tenant were to ask you, “Can we leave this to be deducted from the bond at the end of the tenancy?” The answer should always be “No”.

By asking the tenant for money to fix damage right away, it means that (a) you actually get the money for the repairs, and (b) it sends the message that damaging the property isn’t acceptable.

In certain instances, tackling the damage immediately could mean that more expensive repairs are avoided in the future. This is particularly true of problems associated with water leakage – these should never be unattended.

And it’s not just water damage that can cause headaches further down the track. For example, imagine that the tenant had identified that some wallpaper had become loose. To fix this, it may just need to be re-bonded to the wall with wallpaper glue: this would be a simple, cheap repair. Yet if the wallpaper were to remain loose, it’s highly likely to deteriorate further, be it from small hands pulling at it, or simply by human traffic brushing by. With further damage, this kind of repair would be more expensive to implement.

But in order for the minor damage (such as the loose wallpaper) to be identified in the first place and then repaired immediately, it would need regular property inspections to be undertaken.

Summary

A detailed Property Inspection Report not only saves you money, but it can avoid arguments with tenants, as there’s no wiggle room.

 


 

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