Property Maintenance 101 with OBrien Real Estate
At OBrien Real Estate we are committed to responding to any required maintenance in a professional and efficient manner and our team is committed to the care of your property to ensure a safe environment is maintained in your home.
Our goals regarding maintenance are simple…. to maximise positive results for our tenants and landlords.
This guide aims to assist you to resolve most issues with your property safely, quickly and at little expense with some basic care and know-how. From our extensive experience in property management we have developed a list of some of the most common concerns and troubleshooting steps to rectify them.
We look forward to assisting you and developing a ‘client for life’ relationship that extends to all past, present and future clients.
First things first: always put safety first, especially regarding gas and electricity, and touch base with our Property Management team so we can organise a professional to resolve the issue safely and efficiently. We only use qualified licensed tradespeople who provide prompt service at competitive rates assuring peace of mind and a worry-free property investment experience.
Please be aware you will be responsible for paying for maintenance if:
- unapproved contractors are used
- the work has not been approved in advance
- the issue was due to misuse or neglect on the part of the tenant
- you arrange emergency maintenance and the item could have waited until business hours
- your appliance caused the damage.
Security alarms – as alarm systems vary product to product, please refer firstly to your alarm instruction manual for ‘quick fix’ tips. If you cannot locate your manual, try Google searching the brand/model, name/number to see if there is an online version.
Try these troubleshooting tips:
- Confirm the batteries in your remote are working if the model has one.
- To source a valid code for the system, arm the alarm system and then disarm it again.
- If you have a valid code for the system and there is a button marked ‘reset try pressing this button. Try this button both momentarily and pressing & holding for several seconds as it will vary between systems.
- Report issues with your alarm to your Property Manager even if you have been able to temporarily stop the problem. Malfunction is often an indication of issues such as low batteries in wireless models or power/phone connection problems in hard-wired models.
Smoke alarms – all smoke detectors should have a ‘test’ button. If the alarm sounds, you’re good to go. If not, replace batteries immediately and test again. If it still doesn’t sound, it’s possible there’s simply corrosion on the battery terminal and it won’t detect new batteries. Clean it and try again. If it still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need a new detector. If your smoke alarm is beeping, this is often the result of batteries running out of power. Please replace the batteries and re-test the alarm to ensure it is functioning correctly. If your alarm is hard wired, it will still have a battery back-up and should not be affected by loss of power. If your hard-wired smoke alarm is intermittently beeping, it may be an indication that the smoke alarm unit itself requires repair/replacement. Please contact our Property Management office immediately.
For issues with faulty gas or electrical appliances you should always refer to the instruction manual first. Google search is helpful here to source a model number for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Try some of these simple trouble shooting steps:
- check the electricity or gas is connected to the provider
- check the fuse box to ensure all switches are turned on and functioning
- check all cords are plugged in securely
- try plugging the appliance into a different power point or try a different appliance in the same power point
- reset the appliance or restore the default settings
- replace batteries in remotes or alarms
- inspect and clean any filters (e.g. dishwashers, dryers, rangehoods)
- check the water supply and taps are turned on for dishwashers or washing machines.
Most issues with gas appliances involve supply and ignition to the burner. To identify the issue check if:
- the gas valve is turned on at the meter
- the pilot light is on
- there is a separate switch for the oven or stove that needs to be turned on
- the igniter and burner holes are blocked or require cleaning
- the burner grates on a cooktop are fitted correctly
- oven control knobs and timer functions are set correctly.
When the power goes out, the first step is to ensure you are connected to the provider. Contact them directly or search Google ‘Power Outage’ to find any notifications in your area.
If you are in a multi unit or townhouse complex you should check if all properties and contact your Owners Corporation. If only your property is affected you should check if the mains power supply is turned on and all switches are functioning at the fuse box.
When your lights are working but your power points aren’t, the likely scenario is that you have used a faulty appliance and it has tripped the safety switch. Unplug the last appliance used and then check your fuse box to ensure all the switches are turned on. If you re-plug the appliance in and it happens again, your appliance is faulty. If removing one appliance didn’t fix the problem, continue with all appliances by process of elimination until you find the faulty one.
A light that is flickering or not working can usually be easily fixed by replacing the bulb. Make sure you turn the power off and wait for the old bulb to cool down before replacing it with a new bulb of the same wattage.
Most TV reception difficulties are caused by problems with antennas, television equipment or installation and can often be resolved easily. Use this troubleshooting checklist before contacting our Property Management team:
- check if the problem occurs on all channels or just one
- check all cables are connected correctly and not loose
- try another TV
- restore the default settings and rescan on the digital receiver
- remove all other equipment (DVDS, PVRS, pay-tv boxes and surround sound systems) and see if the problems still occur
- digital – if removing other equipment you should restore and rescan again
- move radios or computer equipment away from the TV
- check your antenna has not moved or been broken (damage on one small part can cause the loss of a single channel)
- turn off nearby electrical appliances and see if the problems cease
- check with your neighbours – if they aren’t having the same issues – it’s something in your house or your antenna
- check to see if there is any maintenance work happening on the transmitters for your area.
Blocked drains and toilets can be an issue and here are some tips to avoid problems:
- Never put anything down the toilet or sink that you shouldn’t.
- A blocked or slow running drain can often be fixed with a plunger or product like Draino.
- Other tips include slowly pouring boiling water down the drain or fishing out any blockages with a bent wire coat hanger.
- If your toilet cistern is out of action or your water services have been temporarily disconnected you can flush your toilet manually with a pre-filled bucket of water.
- Dripping taps are usually caused by worn washers and in this case it is best have a professional replace the worn part. Contact our Property Management team for assistance.
- If you suspect a pipe has burst, immediately turn off mains power to stop the water running and contact your Property Manager immediately for an urgent repair.
- Try to determine whether the cause of the roof leak is rain or a water supply.
- Shut the mains power supply immediately if there is any water near anything electrical.
- Locate buckets or bowls to catch the water if necessary.
- If the issue is serious, contact the SES immediately followed by your Property Manager. Never get on a roof when it is raining or stormy.
No hot water – there are two main things to check here:
- if you have no water at all there is most likely an issue with your supply,
- if you have cold water but no hot water there is most likely an issue with your hot water system.
If you suspect there is an issue with your hot water system, depending on whether it is gas or electric, some of the following tips might help:
- check the gas or electricity is connected to the provider
- check the main power supply, isolating and hot water switch are all turned on at the fuse box
- for an electric system the overflow valve may need to be released
- for a gas system ensure the pilot light is on (follow the instructions on the unit)
- overuse of hot water may also result in reduced supply.
Doors & Locks
For sticky doors or squeaky hinges use a lubricating oil from a hardware store, and if your key is failing to turn the lock, lubricate the key with Graphite or lightly shade with a grey lead pencil.
Sliding doors can get sticky and hard to open when the wheels are out of adjustment or the track gets dirty. Clean any dirt and grime out of the track with a stiff brush and soapy water and if the track still doesn’t slide smoothly, the rollers may need adjusting or replacing.
No one enjoys cleaning but if not done regularly issues like soap scum and mould can build up and cause permanent damage, costing you more time and money in the long run.
To avoid build up ensure good ventilation, such as opening a window, in areas where there is steam or moisture and clean your shower and other high traffic areas regularly. Should mould or stains appear, treat them immediately.
Mould is an indicator of poor ventilation, particularly where you use hot water such as in the shower or bath or when boiling for cooking, steaming, using an electric clothes dryer or rice cooker. As a general rule always keep windows open or a fun running to avoid the development of mould. If mould does occur it needs to be treated immediately with bleach, vinegar, or a commercial mould treatment. If you have signs of mould in cupboards always notify our office for assistance and treatment options.
Outdoor spaces are a place for you to enjoy but they require regular maintenance to keep up to the standard they were when you arrived, or the price for repairs and replacements at the end of a tenancy can be very costly. To keep your outdoor spaces tidy:
- trim and prune hedges and trees
- mow and edge lawns
- avoid parking on lawns or allowing dogs to run a track or dig
- weed and tidy garden beds.
Pools and spas can often be the selling point of any property. To keep them sparkling clean it is important to regularly:
- maintain the water level
- keep animals and metal objects out
- test water for correct PH levels
- vacuum and skim the pool surfaceclean out strainer baskets
- check the pump to ensure the motor is working correctly and efficiently
- get in touch with our Property Management team if you have any issues with your pool.
Dealing with an infestation of pests or vermin is never pleasant for anyone, however tenants are responsible for eradicating a pest problem once it occurs.
Most pests come in search of food or water so keeping your property in a clean and tidy state is your best defence. Always wash and clean dishes promptly, clean up crumbs and spills immediately, keep food in sealed containers and take out rubbish regularly.
If these simple measures don’t work you might have to declare ‘war’ on unwanted pests by using bait, traps or chemical pesticides!
Any maintenance requests must be submitted using our Maintenance Manager App, or in writing to your Property Manager via email, post or fax. When submitting a request please provide a detailed description of the problem and any photos to assist in an efficient and effective solution.
For any urgent maintenance please contact your Property Manager.