Thursday, April 7, 2016

Twenty tips for renovating while a tenant is in your property:

Some tips for renovating while a tenant is in your property:

  1. Make sure your tenant wants the renovation.  If they don’t, they won’t be so happy to tolerate the mess and inconvenience of it.  You might be better to have them move out first if they are happy with the status quo, or have other needs that will make a renovation difficult for them (e.g. asthma, young children).
  2. Tell your insurance company what you are planning on doing and make sure you have cover in place.
  3. Get consent where needed from the Council.
  4. Keep all members of your team informed – don’t forget to tell your property manager and other parties the plans.  Listen to good advice!
  5. See if the renovation can be done when your tenants are away on holiday.
  6. Allow plenty of time for overruns.  If you think it will take 5 weeks maximum, tell your tenant it will be 8 weeks or more.  Better to be finished early than late.
  7. Have any agreements with your tenant in writing.  Include what you are going to pay for power usage and any rent adjustments during and after the renovation.  Be clear on when those rent changes will occur - it could be a date, or an event like 'the painters have finished'.
  8. Have a good budget for contingencies.  You don’t want to cut back on what you promised your tenant as unforeseen things cost more than you planned.
  9. Ensure all facilities are working at the end of each day if the tenant remains in residence.
  10. Have good contractors who understand the importance of a good relationship with the tenants, and won’t go off to some other job before yours is done.
  11. Talk to all your contractors before the job begins to find out what their preferred timelines are, and what they need done before they come on site, and who else can or can’t be there at the same time.  Get a project manager if needed.
  12. Do what you can to smooth the waters between the tenant and the contractors.  Take all concerns seriously.  Offer incentives to all parties to keep things sweet, such as rent discounts while work is going on.
  13. Be prepared to spend money to get the job done faster, rather than soldier on doing it yourself.  You will save you money on compensation to the tenant later.  Don’t work late into the night if the tenant is in residence, be mindful of their need for peace and privacy.
  14. Make the effort to do things that stop dust and mess spreading, and clean up at the end of each day.  Use your own cleaning tools, never the tenants.
  15. Keep the workplace safe at all times – think about where the building materials will go, and any rubbish being removed.  Have suitable warning signs and barriers (and better yet, don’t do this in any households where small children are present).  Keep your building and building materials secure – you don’t want someone throwing your paint around where it isn’t wanted.  Consider installing a shed on the property temporarily to store your stuff – don’t take over more of the tenants property than absolutely needed.
  16. Don’t leave them cold through Winter.  If possible, do major renovations when the weather is warm and calm.  If you’ve opened something up and the weather turns cold, a previously agreeable tenant will change their mind, to your cost.
  17. Keep in mind, ‘what’s in it for them?’ – you getting a better valued property doesn’t matter to your tenant.  Them getting more comfort and cheaper living costs may be more appealing, so act accordingly.
  18. Have a planned stop point.  It’s tempting to let one thing lead to another, but it can wait, really.  Plan where you will stop and stick to it.  You can always start another renovation in the future.
  19. Either stick to what you have agreed with your tenant, or better the deal for them, but don’t allow yourself to be blackmailed by unreasonable demands.  If things go badly and you need to defend your actions, you will be all right in the end if you can show you had an agreement, and when unforeseen things happened, you acted quickly to make things better.
  20. Keep the paperwork for 7 years.  You will forget the paint colour, or the details of the agreement with the tenant, or the contractor who offered the guarantee, so hold on to the paperwork until there is no other issues that could possibly arise from the renovation.

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