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Spit and polish — springtime maintenance season arrives

16 October 2018 Sharon Fox-Slater

There’s something about the weather warming up that unleashes the inner “domestic goddess” and heralds a flurry of cleaning and tidying.

And while spring is traditionally when property owners treat their homes to a bit of “spit and polish”, it’s also an ideal time to give investment properties a once-over.

Dive into your little black book of trades and services and arrange a bit of springtime maintenance in the lead-up to what is set to be another scorching summer.

Indoors
• Get the air-conditioning system serviced
• Make sure overhead fans and exhaust/extractor fans are dust-free and working well
• Clean and repair flyscreens (or fit them)
• Inspect wet areas for mould and caulking deterioration, and remedy
• Refresh paint – re-paint or touch-up chips and scratches
• Replace worn/damaged tapware, cupboard handles and fixed fittings and furnishings (e.g. curtains, blinds, lighting)
• Fix leaking taps, loose hinges and screws
• Have alarms and security systems tested
• Get a sparkie to test electrical circuit shut off switches and give the electrics a once-over (cranking up fridges/freezers, air-cons and fans could overload the system)
• Call in a plumber to check for leaks (those that go unnoticed for long periods can lead to damaged tiling or pavers etc.), and to check gas and water systems (including testing the water heating pressure relief valve to reduce the risk of water leaks or explosions caused by the build-up of corrosion)

Outdoors
• Have the pool cleaned, service the pump and accessories and ensure the water is fit for swimming; ensure pool and spa fences/gates/latches are up to code
• Clean out the gutters, downpipes and drains (debris can not only lead to flooding but poses a fire hazard)
• Inspect the roof and exterior for damage, and make repairs as needed
• Repair any cracks and broken or uneven surfaces in walkways and driveways, concrete slabs and the patio (to limit the risk of drainage issues and also trip hazards for tenants and visitors)
• Check drainage around the property and fix any issues (good drainage limits the risk of flooding, mould, mildew, rising damp and termites)
• Check the foundation ventilation vents are in good repair to ensure air flow and keep vermin out
• Make sure handrails, decks and stairs are safe
• Check door seals and trimmings (as they may have hardened over the cooler weather and from being exposed to the elements)
• Ensure exterior doors and windows move freely, are weatherproof and in good repair (including the hardware and locks)
• Make sure all outdoor lights are working
• Repair paintwork – repaint or touch-up siding and trims (exposed wood is prone to rotting)
• Check the reticulation is working (replace broken sprinkler heads and solenoids, repair damaged pipes) and correctly set for warmer weather watering
• Prune trees and shrubs that overhang or are close to the home, fences, patios and sheds or powerlines
• Get gardening – mow the lawns, tidy up, fertilise lawns and flower beds, mulch, and weed
• Arrange a pest inspection and check the home is well sealed to keep bugs out

Keeping rentals ship-shape is not only a great way to keep tenants on side, it’s also an easy way to safeguard the landlord’s insurance cover. Neglecting maintenance can put the property at risk and potentially void the policy, so get on top of repairs now to avoid a meltdown later on.

Spit and polish — springtime maintenance season arrives
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Sharon Fox-Slater is the managing director of RentCover, a division of EBM, which insures 120,000 investment properties around Australia. With over 20 years’ experience in landlord insurance, Sharon’s top priority is customer service and positive customer comments are her biggest marker of success. Despite leaving school at 15, Sharon has forged a ground-breaking career – she was the first woman to become a fellow of the National Insurance Brokers Association. Sharon was honoured to have been included in Insurance Business magazine’s Elite Brokers 2013 list.

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