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Landlords trying to save a few dollars on maintenance can end up paying a much bigger price

With rents stagnating throughout the country, landlords who decide to save a few dollars on property maintenance risk turning their investment properties into rental deathtraps.

According to Terri Scheer Insurance, the biggest insurance claims made by landlords is for loss of rent, however cutting costs on maintenance could have a bigger price and cost lives as landlords do have a duty of care to make sure the house they are providing for rent is safe for people to live in.  Cutting corners on pool fencing, smoke alarms, and wiring could turn investment properties into death traps.

Inadequate swimming pool fences pose the biggest risk as loss of life can occur very quickly and very silently.  It is the psychological burden of living with the notion that someone has drowned in the pool which should far outweigh the monetary cost of ensuring that the fencing is adequate.  

Old or poor wiring was also something that could cause major issues for owners.  Aside from the potential loss of a home through fires caused by bad wiring, the risk is enhanced by the possibility of loss of life through electrocution. Another potential bodily hazard is through lack of repair of rotting floorboards and stairs, which also enhanced the risk of not necessarily attracting the best possible tenants.

Terri Scheer lists these as the top 10 landlord insurance claims:

  1. Loss of rent
  2. Malicious damage
  3. Water damage
  4. Legal liability
  5. Storm damage
  6. Water damage
  7. Theft
  8. Fusion — If a motor in a household electrical machine or appliance needs to be repaired or replaced because the motor has burnt out by electric current at the property
  9. Storm damage
  10. Impact damage — if hit by motor vehicle or water craft, aircraft, space debris or satellites, falling trees or branches or TV antennae, satellite dishes or radio masts.

Here are some suggestions as to how landlords can minimise hazards in their investment properties: 

  1. Install and maintain smoke alarms

As well as the risk to life in many cases your insurance policy may be voided for fire related accidents if you haven’t completed a smoke alarm check in the last 12 months.

According to Smoke Alarms Australia nearly every second household has no working smoke alarm at all and that figure is growing.

  1. Ignoring mould

If you leave it for too long it can end up costing you a lot of money. I know of a landlord who pays the electricity bill on behalf of his tenants because they need to use a dehumidifier full time to stop the mould spreading.

  1. Poor security

By not installing small things like window security bars you are putting your tenants at unnecessary risk of harm and theft.

  1. Poor manager

If you have a poor property manager or you never do check-ups, you’re unlikely to know about minor repairs or maintenance. These can quickly turn into a major, very expensive repair if left unattended, and can be detrimental to the building and tenant’s health.

  1. Location.

While people love the idea of being opposite the water, it may pay to choose a property one street back. Salt spray is a killer when it comes to concrete cancer.

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