Dealing with repairs in rental properties

I parked my car outside the house. A neighbor accidentally kissed it and damaged the license plate. It was replaced after a week so I drove it to an 8 a.m. meeting on Monday.

Unfortunately, I was stuck in the highway for an hour. When I reached the carpark, the agitated vehicle was already complaining with strange noises. It waited till I was on the way back that it finally broke down on the left lane.

Three nice guys volunteered to push the grumpy fellow to a side road. But somehow it ended up outside a Singapore Pools outlet. Patrons took the hint from the license number to buy lottery. I was totally amused by the embarrassment!

Breakdowns are sometimes unavoidable in the lifespan of cars. Similarly, breakdowns are also commonplace in rental properties.

What do you expect to fix?

After a decade as a landlord, I have experienced countless incidents of different things not working in my tenanted units.

From the date of TOP to a few years down the road, sooner or later things will start giving you problems. It can be the air-conditioners, water heaters, home appliances, fixtures and fittings, or water leak and seepage.

The developer may have installed something substandard. Or a fixture is reaching almost the end of its lifespan. Depending on your luck, defects can range from wear and tear, out of order, to damage beyond repair.

If you look around, you may notice that your neighbor may be having the same fate. Talk to the neighbors or the management office. Most probably another unit has recently done similar repair work. They can share contacts of any reliable contractor or repairman with you.

Why things don’t last?

When you visit sales galleries of property new launches, the showflats usually showcase top-of-the-line branded fixtures and appliances.

However, you will soon realize that ‘looking good’ and ‘working fine’ are two different things.

The air-conditioners, water heaters and built-in home appliances may be from prestigious European or Japanese brands. But the developers are buying them in bulk from the manufacturers. Developers are looking for models that offer the biggest discount, not the latest models selling at a premium.

Anyway, with concealed air-conditioning, no one will check the model number of the air-conditioners. And it is rare that anyone will open the false ceiling of the bathrooms to check the models of water heaters.

There is also considerable time lap between orders placed by developers, building construction to project completion. By the time your tenant moves in, chances are those models installed at your unit have long been discontinued.

How to make your life as a landlord easier?

As a landlord, it is your responsibility to give your tenant one month’s warranty for everything in your unit, except for damages done by the tenant. You are also responsible to keep all the home appliances you put in the unit in good and working condition.

Nonetheless, there are a few tips that can make your life as a landlord much easier:

1. File the operation manual of all the appliances and leave the file there for easy reference of your tenant. Ask your tenant to check the operation manual for any machine malfunction before contacting you or your property agent.

2. Specify in the tenancy agreement to request your tenant to be responsible for any repair not exceeding $100 or $150. This can save you the hassles of going there to do all the minor repairs, such as repairing a blown fuse or changing a light bulb.

3. For the convenience of arranging repair work, the tenancy agreement should state that your tenant has to allow you or your agents to enter the unit to inspect and do any repair at a time agreeable by both parties.

4. Request your tenant to sign up for a maintenance contract that services the air-conditioners every quarter at the expense of the tenant. Before the handover of the unit, your tenant has to service the air-conditioners again and provide a copy of the receipt that shows the last service date.

5. Avoid having any built-in home appliances such as fridge, oven, washing machine, dryer, etc. at the unit. They only look neat and nice at the showflat. Once anything breaks down, it is difficult to repair. When it is beyond repair, you can hardly find the same model or model with exact measurements that can fit perfectly. And even if space allows, having a duplicated appliance next to the faulty one looks odd.

This article was originally published on Propertysoul on the 

Are you a property agent or landlord and you need to find a contractor to do repairs on one of your properties?

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