One aspect of owning investment properties is the ‘duty of care’ towads the tenant.  Property management problems can escalate if due care is not taken during the repair and maintenance process.  If there is a fault at the property and a complaint is received from a tenant then the complaint needs to be investigated and if necessary fixed.  This all sounds simple doesn’t it?   But it is not necessarily as simple as it sounds.

First case scenario when the property is under property management.  let’s assume we are talking about a deck with protruding nails and rotting timber:

  • the property management receives a complaint so they should inspect the property and confirm that the complaint is legitimate – a photo should be taken of the area under dispute
  • the property management should then inform the landlord – various agreements are in place and the property management may be able tohandle the repair without the landord’s approval, but if not then the landlord must approve the repair
  • a carpenter is contracted to do the repair job
  • at this stage the repair should be viewed again to see that it is up to standard and that all the problems have been resolved – another should be taken

Second case scenario is where the property is being self-managed. The steps then are similar but it is the landlord taking photos and doing inspections.

A recent court case was where the job was completed by the carpenter but not completed to a satisfactory standard. The tenant then suffered a knee injury and in the end it was the carpenter who had to pay restitution.

There are several points being made here:

1. ensure that all problems are documented

2. make sure there is paper work regarding any contractors taken on to do the work at the property

3. ensure that there are ‘after’ photos as well as ‘before’ photos

4. if the job is not done 100% correctly get the contractor back, don’t take the attitude of ‘near enough is good enough’

Remember that a landlord’s duty of care does cover safe and quiet enjoyment of a property by the tenant. There have been horrifying accidents regarding collapsing balconies and being an outdoor structure, they are one that is open to the elements and needs to have constant inspection and repair if necessary.

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