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How to extend the life of your rental property

By George Hadgelias

If you want to protect your investment property from the general wear and tear of its tenants, here are just a few hacks to help you.

It’s almost impossible to guarantee your rental property won’t eventually show signs of being lived in. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent more obvious damage, like mouldy bathrooms and stained carpets.

Let’s take a look…

Protect your bathroom from mould

If the property doesn’t have great ventilation in the bathroom, it could become susceptible to unsightly mould and mildew.

Showerdome, a clear acrylic dome attaching to the top of your existing shower cubicle, is one way to help prevent mould by containing moisture within the receptacle.

Tenants will enjoy mist-free mirrors, while you, the landlord, can be confident you’ll extend the life of paint and bathroom fittings.

“By containing the moisture in the shower cubicle, you eliminate the need for constant cleaning and redecorating in the bathroom and surrounding rooms,” explains Showerdome director Maria Jory. “Moisture damage also harms wood finishes and stains, flooring and other surfaces in the bathroom.”

In homes with ensuites, keeping moisture contained can also prevent damp from travelling into the bedroom, damaging carpets, drapes and even clothing. Win-win!

Prevent drain clogging

All landlords should invest in a drain cover for their kitchen sink to stop food scraps ending up in the plumbing. It may seem obvious, but this small, inexpensive and noninvasive measure could prevent a plumbing disaster down the track.

It might also help to set out rules for tenants if you’re worried that your plumbing is fragile.

“Explain clearly to the tenants that you can’t flush sanitary products or paper towels down the toilet. A lot of time blockages are caused by those things,” explains Kieren O’Brien, director of plumbing and electrical company Lexity.

“When it comes to the kitchen, just make sure a lot of food doesn’t get pushed down there. Every couple of years, it can help to get a plumber out to clean out the trap, too.”

Avoid damage to your floor

If you’re in a position to update your floors, or if you’re building or renovating your rental property, Jon Stul, Co-Founder of property maintenance agency Bricks + Agent, warns against choosing carpet.

“In terms of flooring, engineered timber boards are reasonably priced and quite hard-wearing, and they can prolong how long the property is presentable,” he explains.

If you already have floorboards, scuffs and scratches left by the tenant can be considered wear and tear. However, if you are concerned, ensure you or your property manager provides thorough detail in the initial condition report. You can also request the tenant use pads on the bottom of any furniture bought into the home. Depending on the potential for damage and the cost it would take to fix, it may even be worth your while to provide rugs.

Cover up holes and cracks, especially in your roof

Make sure your windows and doors are sealed properly in order to keep the effects of the natural elements out of your home. If cracks are present in your walls, ceilings or floors, it’s likely these will only get worse over time.

Similarly, Stul says it’s important to regularly check the roof for issues that could lead to leaks.

“Depending on the type of surface, it’s important to check your roof yearly or every five years. For instance, if you have a tiled surface, get up there and check there are no cracked tiles. If it’s tin, check that it’s screwed-down properly and it hasn’t rusted or worn out,” Stul suggests.

Check your sinks

Water leakage and general mildew can damage cabinets and flooring beneath your sink. If you have wooden cabinets make sure you use a varnish and lining to reduce the effects of water and heat over time.

“Have a look under sinks for the flexible hoses, and check for issues like rust marks on the hoses as that’s the leading cause for floods in the home,” O’Brien explains. “They should be replaced every seven to 10 years, but they often get forgotten and that’s when they burst and flood the home.”

“Make sure that it’s all sealed with silicon so water doesn’t leak, and that’s going to prevent further damage.”

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