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Proving your value through an ongoing maintenance program

Sunday 01, Sep 2019

Now that spring has sprung, management rights operators with both short-term and long-term letting pools will face various seasonal maintenance tasks in servicing their building throughout the warmer months. However, as pool covers are rolled back and common BBQ areas are cleaned, it is a timely reminder of the importance of ongoing maintenance to overall building performance and strategic asset maintenance.

The revenue potential of a commercial property is determined by multiple factors including the building type and location as well as the overall condition and ‘street appeal’. While you can’t always control the first two factors, resident managers have a robust knowledge of the property and are best placed to ensure its condition and appearance are maintained at the highest level.

While ongoing and preventative maintenance is vital to a building, it comes with a price tag and resident managers need to balance these costs with the benefits and desired outcomes. They must also understand their responsibilities within the caretaking agreement, what constitutes a specialised task (and when they shouldn’t undertake them), and how to ensure the building remains compliant with various regulations.

In serving the needs of stakeholders including the body corporate committee, unit owners, tenants and guests, and in making strategic decisions for the long-term benefit of the property, it is the responsibility of the resident manager to develop a cost-effective routine maintenance program. It will also demonstrate to the committee and owners why your role is so vital to the building.

Fundamental to this program is identifying and managing small maintenance issues before they become large and costly. While it is normal for things to break or cease to function as intended, scheduling maintenance work proactively can often limit repairs of an emergency nature. The cost of engaging a contractor or service professional to fix a problem that already exists will always far exceed the price of resolving it before it becomes an emergency situation.

Something as simple as an air conditioning unit malfunctioning might be prevented through scheduled maintenance. Even water leaks, when detected early, are usually relatively inexpensive to fix, but once damage occurs to structural components, the cost of repair can become exorbitant. A resident manager should understand every component of the property’s assets and which course of maintenance is best.

In addition to function and asset protection, routine maintenance is also significant in limiting possible liability. Damaged buildings, walkways, car parks and even poorly kept grounds can all increase liability if someone is injured as a result of the defect, damage or negligence.

Buildings that are well maintained are also less likely to be vandalised, especially if the gardens and grounds are well kept, security lighting is installed, and the overall impression of the building is that people are actively maintaining the property.

Aside from this, you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. Operators in short-stay accommodation in particular must consider the property’s presentation as they welcome a fresh wave of guests over the holiday seasons. A well kept, perfectly functioning building will help guests establish a positive opinion of the property and give you the best chance of seeing them return to your property in the future.

Whether you are operating a building with a short-term or long-term letting pool, management rights is the most effective way of serving the interests of all stakeholders and a robust maintenance program is yet another way to demonstrate just how valuable you are as an operator.

Trevor Rawnsley