A easy way to retirement is buying stocks and not becoming a landlord.  Landlordship is layered with responsibilities, from the emergencies to the maintenance, to the admin, to the … and so it continues often.  Making stocks the easier, but riskier option – many would say. Let’s show you how landlords need to manage their property maintenance, ensuring their own financial freedoms.

As a landlord you should always remember that you have an ethical obligation to provide a safe and livable environment to your tenants.  You also have an obligation to yourself to try and gain the best return on investment when it comes to selling time.  It is for this reason that security and maintenance should be a key responsibility to your landlordship.


1. Finance first

You should be considering the property maintenance cost before you even buy.  Saying that the rental value will cover all expenses with a small deposit is whimsical thinking.  This might have been so some time ago, but with our high interest rates, your mortgage will steal most of the rental value.

Considering the big property expenses:

  • Property Tax
  • Insurance
  • Mortgage
  • Service Fees
  • Yearly Property Maintenance Service
  • Emergency Fund

A rough rule of thumb is to have a property maintenance budget of the an annual expenditure of 1.5% -2% of the property’s value for the repairs or emergencies.

You may have to dig into your personal pockets if your rental value can’t cover these property expenses.  Run the numbers before you sign on the dotted line.  Finding yourself in financial constraints are certainly unwanted.  If must save a bit harder and longer, make sure your deposit is as big as you can make it.


2. Be a Fortune Teller with your Yearly Maintenance Services

Some property maintenance issues can be foreseen, consider the big breakables like the:

  • Roof and gutters
  • Painting
  • Electricity
  • Geyser
  • Interior – how old are the carpets, tiles, ceilings.

By using the gift of foresight you can start predicting how much you will need every year depending on the condition and type of property.  Traditional residential homes tend to run a bit higher, maintenance wise.  With apartment living it is easier to calculate the expense, seeing as your levies will cover large parts of the maintenance cost already.

3. Don’t be shy and get a professional

Many DIY landlords feel this obligation that they need to fix every problem themselves.  That they don’t need that plumber, electrician or gardener, they can do it themselves.  Of course you can do it yourself, but should you be doing it yourself is the question.  Consider your hourly rate versus the amount of hours it will actually take you.  You will often find that it would have cost less in time (thus money) if you just got the professional from the start, there are limits to being frugal.

Consider my silly mistake, we wanted to remove a tree from our home. We decide, instead of paying a professional tree feller we will ask our gardener to chop off the tree and dig out the roots.  This idea was well and all, until the tree eventually came down.  We accidentally nicked the top of our neighbours electric fencing, resulting in a somewhat upset neighbour and a few hundred gone for the fix-up.  In the end it would have been best to have gotten the professional tree feller, as this would have been the far cheaper and faster  option.  There are jobs that we did get the professional out and thought to ourselves, but we could have easily done it ourselves.  This always remains a question mark in my home, should we shouldn’t we.  The gist is that you should be honest with yourself, consider your time, the cost, your actual level of experience in the field, what the actual steps will be to resolving the problem and not to mention the step you don’t see.  Hiring the professional often seems cheaper in value, experience and time.

Many landlords come to a similar conclusion when considering whether to hire a property management company.  Property management companies like Mafadi will handle all these landlord responsibilities on your behalf.  This will save you a ton of time and frustration, run your math, consider what your personal time is worth to you.

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Written by Lizl Brink, Lizl is copywriter and designer based in Johannesburg, she is also a frequent contributor to the Mafadi blog, and as an Urban investor and rejuvenation shares a passion for urban regeneration, go check out her personal portfolio here
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