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Grampa

Maintenance reponse times

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Being an agent you are never going to please everyone all the time but I have always aimed to give a good service to tenants and landlords which I think I have mainly achieved. The one thing that does need to improve is the maintenance response times and communication.

The feedback from (some) tenants on inspections is that nothing ever gets done or takes a long time.

This can be down to many reasons, a lot of them out of our hands such as the issue is cosmetic and not necessary, the landlords authorisation is slow in coming back or not at all.

The delays for issues (non-emergency) we can control are normally caused by human error such as forgetting to enter on the system when we are busy and a tenant just mentions a issue in passing or a contractor forgets and we think the issue is in hand. Other reasons are requests for upgrades on carpets, kitchens etc when there is nothing faulty it is just dated.

So starting our new year resolution early we had a boiler breakdown reported 9.15 Tuesday and a repair done by midday and an "faulty" oven report emailed over late last night and the contractor has already been out today and fixed.

If we can keep that up all I now need is for tenants to be happy when we want to make deductions from their deposit. Though that may be a bit more tricky. 

    

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Presumably you keep a detailed log of faults ? e.g. detail of fault, how reported, date reported, date contractor arranged, date fixed, reason for no action etc, etc.

A log is even more important now since October 2015 rule changes i.e. s21 no longer valid if repairs not done. A log would be good evidence in court should it go that far. Don't forget tenant MUST serve notice of repair request in writing on the form provided by landlord/agent otherwise fault is not valid.

The speed of a repair in the main is ruled by the availability of a suitable contractor,  availability of any parts and the nature of the repair. I would suggest it's less to do with the speed of response by an agent or his landlord......although I understand overseas landlords can be difficult to contact sometimes.

I would think you should be more concerned at keeping your clients (landlords) happy rather than the tenants. It's mainly the landlords that pay you isn't it ?

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24 minutes ago, Richlist said:

 

I would think you should be more concerned at keeping your clients (landlords) happy rather than the tenants. It's mainly the landlords that pay you isn't it ?

I am fairly sure I have that covered already. I have lost count of the landlords who have said we are far better than previous agents they have used. I was having a conversation with a heating engineer xmas eve who does gas certs for most of other agents in the area who stated he always recommended us and if he was to get a BTL he would definitely use us over the other agents.  I have also had a similar comments from the upper levels of the local council.

That's not to say we don't get it wrong sometimes but when we do we try to learn from our mistakes.

We do occasionally get the odd landlord though who is never happy with unreasonable expectations.  

 

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48 minutes ago, Richlist said:

Presumably you keep a detailed log of faults ? e.g. detail of fault, how reported, date reported, date contractor arranged, date fixed, reason for no action etc, etc.

 

Yes our system logs/records all faults and notes times/dates etc and all progress update notes. So at the click of a button I can see if a cooker was repaired last week or 5 years ago, who repaired it and cost etc. 

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Hi

We have about 40 tenants and will respond on the same day as we receive the issue, even if its only a quick call to look with completing the works the next day.

That is the best we can do. 

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3 hours ago, Richlist said:

.......and I suspect that's nowhere near good enough for some of them !  ;)

Of course not a lot of them think they are living in a hotel and treat the landlord/agent as room service.

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20 minutes ago, Grampa said:

Of course not a lot of them think they are living in a hotel and treat the landlord/agent as room service.

Amen to that.

A call from a new T saying she was unable to get terestrial TV. Although I've disclaimed responsibility for such things in contrct I said I would attend the next day.

With enough gear to resolve whatever I drive the 80 miles to the flat, and the Lady is nowhere to be seen. As it hasn't been mentioned since I guess she tried plugging the coax that was coiled in the corner instead of utilising the old coax socket on the wall.

 

Another T lost his key so I posted mine for him to recieve at a neighbours flat the next day. He agreed to pay the £11 postage. He wasn't there to sign on the Saturday so the key went to the depot. He collected on the Monday but by now the lock had been glued, strange coincidence maybe. He expected me to pay for a locksmith and of course the £11 didn't arrive.

Actually the list goes on. The pity is that while giving the undeserved the attention those that do deserve suffer, and that includes me and mine.

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I always respond quickly and offer to let tradesmen in but follow up visits from tradesmen often meet with  ' can't he come in the evening or a Saturday'. 

Recently I let a long term tenants have a rescue cat so when a double glazed door needed a hinge repair ' the cat will be scared so can he come after 2pm on a Friday?'.

My best response was just before Christmas.  Sunday morning 10.20am call from newish tenant in a property with only 1 entrance door.  ' I'm locked in and can't get out something went wrong with the lock when I got in last night'.  I tried my locksmith - 'yeah be there in 20 mins if it's cash'.  It was and by the time I got there he had door open and was fitting new lock.  Lock had been behaving strangely for a week but tenant failed to tell me and Murhpy's law kicked in!

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While we attempt to satisfy T's 'issues' at speed the efforts, in my cases, are often not appreciated.

I have had many silly calls for issues that could easily be resolved by more thought on their part. My contract states that all defects need to be reported in writing, and on some occasions that has been my vebal response to a T with an issue.

An example, same T with the coax problem above, complained that the electrical system was unsafe due to a socket being sited too close the the cooker. Actually it is the cooker control plate c/w socket and is correct to IEE regs. She had involved the Housing Enforcement Dept, who informed me when I rang that they felt no need for action. My response to the T, over the phone, was for her to put it in writing. I would then organise an electrical inspection, the result of that would determine who had responsibility for the cost of that inspection. Of course this also would provide evidence for a court should this escalate.

Actually the Lady was now involved with a chap and it would seem would prefer to be released from our 10 week old contract and move in with him.

It looks reasonable for us to employ the policy of accepting only written claims as then any later T claims of LL negligence could be shown for their accuracy, or not. It is generally accepted that a T should inform the LL twice of a defect, in black and white is the only reasonable and demonstrable way I see. Following the LL not responding, or in the event of  an issue being more urgent a T can always authorise rectification themselve and deduct 'reasonable' costs from the rent.

Imagine us one man band types being away for a few weeks, on our 45 metre luxury yacht for example. While it is feasible for us to provide contact details for preferred tradesmen all events can't be anticipated, all tradesmen can't be gauranteed to respond. T's must accept some responsibility for the running of the property they live in.

To contradict, it is unfortunate that most courts will view us as the ultimate answer to all claimed problems. We try to evict through the S8 route and an obvious T ploy is to claim disrepair, even though the problem has never been reported, and a written claim would demonstrate such, a judge will happily adjourn for reports. I'm sure there is more legislation to come that will increase our risks.

Do we make ourselves easy targets by pandering to some T's?

 

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It may sound obvious but I always inform any new tenant, in writing that they are responsible for small repairs themselves.

I have a standard sheet which gives them a few examples....changing light bulbs, replacing batteries & fuses, unblocking sinks and toilets, tightening loose screws / hardware, replacing tap washers, changing cooker hood filters, cleaning shower heads, changing vac cleaner bags and filters, keeping gulleys clear of leaves and cleaning out if blocked etc,etc. You have to spell it out as many see some of the above as a landlords responsibility.

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Yes it's the attitude, of not only T's, I find difficult to comprehend. 

My contract, more than being a legal document tries to guide the T's on their (and my) responsibilities also. Each section is titled and underlined -such as  Payments, Notices, Construction and Contents.... I do consider that Wiping Own Backside may well be relevant but have failed to create suitable wording.

How many T's read the 4 pages (the 4th being the signature page anyway) I'm not sure. But most ignore the contents when it suits so it would seem many don't remember them. Although at sign up I do make the T's and G'tor aware of the more pertinent items.

From your items suggested RL there are items I would prefer them not to meddle with, similar to decorating being an obvious exclusion pretty well always asked about and rejected. But as replacing a tap washer would easily twist the tap breaking the seal of the fibre washer below it's better I do this. Anything involving a ladder might leave the rent payer injured, so it's better I do that job. We don't suffer from calcium build up and otherwise I have no intention of providing machines. For many years I resolved to simplify the business as far as I could as it's far too complicated anyway.

It seems so much of my time is spent on eduction and re-eduction. Same Lady as an example has a contract (fixed term till 29th Feb) has served notice twice to quit early. Even though I wrote to She and G'tor rejecting the notice and stating the tie in period She tries it a second time. Of course no rent at the end of December so here we go chasing an abuser -again. I envisage Daddy coughing up ultimately.

I mean really it's just not on, how am I expected to pay for the skiing in a weeks time?

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Hi

This may be a little off topic, but what I do, for example if the rent is say £80 per week I charge £90 with the tenant paying £80 into my rental account and the other £10 into a separate account to be spent on the property on whatever we agree, could be new carpets, doors, internal decorating, its there money, I am just looking after it.

 

Any thoughts  

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bil, you're taking a deposit each month. If you are "looking after it" it isn't protected, unless insurance backed.

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1 hour ago, Carryon Regardless said:

bil, you're taking a deposit each month. If you are "looking after it" it isn't protected, unless insurance backed.

mmmm, not thought of it that way, always worked ok, tenant happy, we are happy, why do other people always think they know better, how can we continue with the system that is working for us both and still comply without additional paperwork and costs.

Thanks in advance.  

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I don't think you can.

Increase the rent from £80 to £90 . Undertake to spend an amount of the rent on decor/furnishing as necessary.....which is pretty much what most of us do.

Why would you want to complicate it.

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11 minutes ago, Richlist said:

I don't think you can.

Increase the rent from £80 to £90 . Undertake to spend an amount of the rent on decor/furnishing as necessary.....which is pretty much what most of us do.

Why would you want to complicate it.

The tenant feels better knowing that it is there choice on how to spend the money, with my input.

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bil I'm with you with the needless interfering opinion.

I've considered incentives like refunding a bonus at Xmas to those that keep an ideal payment schedule and look after the property, but it's a deposit.

I even used to take rent 2 months in advance to cover the risk of repossessing after abandonment instead of a 'deposit', but as it's not the norm I could see risk of Shelter or such claiming that to be a deposit anyway.

I'm just lazy now and don't take a deposit and can't see a no risk way of creating incentives apart from threats to go after a g'tor.

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There are lots of ways to incentivise tenants. This subject has been discussed a few times before with numerous excellent ideas. I don't understand why some of you are getting hung up on the deposit. Here are a few thought starters....

Start by putting a LOT of effort into selecting suitable tenants. Meet them personally, ensure they meet all of your detailed selection criteria. Check, check and check again to ensure they are suitable.

Get rent guarantee insurance and/ or a home owning guarantor.

Keep the rent slightly below the market level.

Undertake to ensure good tenants will continue to enjoy a small rent discount on market levels ..

Limit rent increases to smaller amounts.

Make rent increases as infrequent as possible

Refund part of the deposit for long term tenants.

Respond promptly to problems.

If tenants do YOU a favour get them a small thank you gift.

A bottle at Xmas along with a card will always be appreciated.

Keep them informed of what's happening on their development.

Ensure they have a contact number 24/7.

If you use an agent make sure THEY are happy with the agents performance.

If you have a holiday home give them the opportunity to spend a free week or fortnight there.

Always go the extra mile.....it often results in pay back.

Etc, etc.

 

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