Landlords 'must stay closely involved' in their properties

Landlords should bear in mind that well- maintained rental properties attract more desirable tenants and yield better returns, says Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group.

'Some buy-to-let investors view their investments as they would bonds or share purchases, and don't see the need to be closely involved with them.

'This can be disastrous because properties that aren't thoroughly maintained will almost certainly lose value very rapidly.

'And, if this happens on a large scale in a development, even units that are being well maintained will feel the effects.'
Rawson believes that five to 10 percent of each month's rent should be set aside for maintenance purposes.

'Landlords should make it a rule that they inspect their properties at least twice a year.

'They should also ensure that they are elected onto body corporate boards as trustees or as members of home owners associations' committees.

'Only by doing this can landlords keep close to the management of the development and ensure that the governing bodies carry out their obligations.

'A good board or committee member will see to it that the development is well maintained and moves in the right direction.'
He says it is tragic but true that certain excellent developments that have shown remarkable capital appreciation in their first years have later gone downhill purely as a result of bad management.

'By the time rescue operations are put in place through changes in management, increased levies and raising of special loans, developments can very often be close to bankruptcy.

'Few people really enjoy attending body corporate and home association meetings, but if you neglect to do so, you only have yourself to blame if complexes don't show the expected capital appreciation.

'Unfortunately this has been the case in many such schemes, especially in the R500 000 to R1.5 million a unit category,' says Rawson.

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