Help! I’m a buy-to-let landlord and need a good maintenance technician

8 steps to getting the best maintenance team at the best price

When you become a buy-to-let landlord, one of the key issues to get right is maintenance. You should provide your tenants with an easy-to-use repair reporting process. This should help you decide whether a job must be dealt with immediately, or could be left for 24 to 48 hours before being attended to.

Our online repair reporting system allows tenants to report problems immediately. There is no waiting on the phone. In just a few clicks the problem is messaged to a team of experts to assess. The tenant can also add photographic evidence to help that assessment. We then pass the repair to a tried and trusted maintenance technician, plumber, electrician, or other tradesmen as necessary.

DIY landlords rarely find a good maintenance man. In this article, you’ll learn how to select the best maintenance people around the country.

Step 1: Know your expectations

Always start by understanding what is required, and what to expect from maintenance and services technicians. This may include timeliness, experience, proximity to location, and, of course, qualifications.

In addition to this, we research how much technicians cost in a location, so that we know what we should expect to pay.

Step 2: Compile a list of ‘candidates’

Talk to local agents and landlords to start compiling a list of possible candidates. There are also several online applications and websites that help find local tradespeople: interrogate these, too. Finally, search local directories and members of chambers of commerce.

With a shortlist made, it’s time to whittle down to a select few. Do this by sending email requests for further information, or picking up the phone and asking.

Step 3: Qualify their experience

Ask about the technician’s experience. Have they got the experience of working with other buy-to-let landlords? This is important because they will need to know the hierarchy of decision-making (i.e. it’s you, and not the tenant who makes the decision about what to do).

Also, do they have the experience working on the type of property that you own?

Step 4: Qualify their ability to do the job

At step one, you will already have considered what type of maintenance issues are most likely to need attention. Ask about the technician’s specific areas of expertise. It may be best to consider a generalist maintenance person for low-level and non-emergency repair issues, while also forging relationships with specialists such as electricians and plumbers.

Step 5: Qualify their ability to work with your repair process

Can the maintenance technician work with you, and slot into your processes? For example:

  • Will they be available 24/7 to provide emergency maintenance work?
  • Are they prepared to take the initial job from you and contact the tenant direct (if this is what you want them to do)?
  • How do they prioritize jobs on their daily list or work to do?

Step 6: Qualify their integrity

Give maintenance people who have convictions a wide berth. But you’ll also want to know how they have treated tenants at other jobs they have worked on. Ask for references from landlords and tenants. You want to know that the technician is honest, a good worker, and turns up when they say they will, and not someone who will find problems that don’t exist and make a one-hour job last an entire morning.

Step 7: Qualify their interpersonal skills

You’ve got to keep good relations with your tenants. The last thing you want (or need) is to send a maintenance person who aggravates the tenant. They should be polite and courteous, friendly and trustworthy.

While in your property – your tenant’s home – technicians are representing you. Rudeness, aggressiveness, or a continuous barrage of inappropriate language reflects on you. So, not only should your maintenance technicians be good at their job, they should also be good with people.

Step 8: Qualify you’ve made the right choice for a trial period

Having followed the seven steps above, you should be able to hire with some confidence. However, we all make mistakes from time to time. Some technicians may promise much and deliver little. The only way to ascertain if you have made the right choice is to put them on a trial period. If you are dissatisfied with the service you and your tenants receive, then fire them and move on. If you are happy, then you should be able to forge a long and lasting landlord/maintenance technician relationship that will be beneficial for all.

Whatever you do, don’t rush to get a maintenance technician, and don’t leave it to chance. If you don’t have a good relationship with your maintenance team, you will find that work gets done late and inadequately, as well as more expensively. And you’ll only have yourself to blame.

For more tips and advice, call one of the Ezytrac team today on +44  0 1522  503 717.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

About the Author:

Brett Alegre-Wood
Brett has over 20 years experience in all facets of property, he owns various companies centred around property and is the driving force behind the education and training at Ezytrac. His companies have sold over £850 million in UK and London property and he manages over 1200 properties through his estate agency chain. Today he shares his time between UK, Australia and Singapore. He is married to Arlene and together they have 4 kids. Brett holds both the Level 3 Property Mark Qualifications for Property Sales and Property Lettings and Management.