How to Manage Domestic Appliance Repairs in a Buy-to-Let Property


March 8, 2020

Maintenance is a crucial part of owning an investment property. Once a tenant is in situ, it’s not uncommon for there to be issues around maintenance during the tenancy, even if they’re only minor. It’s fair to say that landlords will spend more time dealing with maintenance problems than they will with aspects like tenant finding and leases.

Landlords have a responsibility to keep their buy-to-let in good condition and fix any issues that may arise while a tenant lives in the property. Of the potential problems that can occur, household appliances tend to cause the most frequent issues.

A modern kitchen counter with a microwave, a kettle and a wine stand placed on top. Above the kitchen counter there are three separate shelves with silver containers, a bowl of fruits and a toaster

From broken boilers to washing machine repair, it’s not uncommon for landlords to expect a call from the tenant raising a property maintenance query. Unlike fair wear and tear, which landlords attend to at the end of a tenancy, domestic appliance repairs in a buy-to-let need instant attention.

But how do you prepare for property maintenance requests, including domestic appliance repairs? Read on, and find out everything you need to know about managing domestic appliances in your buy-to-let property in the event they should break down.

Which domestic appliances can break down?

You have a set of responsibilities as a landlord, including making sure domestic appliances are in working order. Those appliances include:

  • Boiler
  • Washing machine
  • Fridge/Freezer
  • Oven and cooker
  • Toilet
  • Bathtub and/or shower
  • Heaters
  • Lighting
  • Smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector

 

The above appliances are standard equipment that is expected to be found in rental properties. However, there are other appliances that a landlord may choose to include:

  • Microwaves
  • Dryer
  • Dishwasher
  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee machine/espresso maker
  • Kettle
  • Toaster
  • Television

 

A nude painted wall with a silver fridge in front of it with the main door open showing the fully stocked inside

Any of the above items can also break down, and landlords are required to fix appliances they’ve supplied if they stopped working. Even if an issue arises and is the fault of the tenant, the landlord will still need to arrange for a tradesperson to assess the damage before finding out the reason for its malfunction and deciding who is responsible.

 

How much does it cost to fix domestic appliances

Landlords would face sky-high repair bills If every household appliance broke down at the same time. Fortunately, the likelihood of such a scenario is low. However, landlords do need to be aware of costs to fix domestic appliances when they malfunction.

A washing machine that stops draining might have a problem with the pump. The replacement pump should cost between £70-£100, while labour for the job starts from around £60 per hour. Essentially, the cost is a minimum of £130.

That’s just one example, of course, and sometimes appliances need replacing completely. That’s why landlords should be aware of the average price for replacing domestic appliances. Below are the general costs for standard domestic appliance replacements without labour.

  • Boiler - from £2,000
  • Washing machine - from £250
  • Fridge/Freezer - from £300
  • Oven/cooker - from £300
  • Toilet - from £150
  • Bathtub - from £120

 

Landlords can go years without any domestic appliances issues; they can also experience three or four in just a few months. Predicting when there will be a problem with appliances is practically impossible, which is why it’s worth keeping some money specifically for dealing with repairs.

An unknown man wearing a white tshirt and blue overalls, a blue hat and a man purse strapped around him with tools inside. The man is kneeling on the floor and is looking inside a washing machine while holding a red tool.

It’s also a smart idea to buy extended warranties when you’re purchasing appliances for your buy-to-let apartment, as these can last for between five and 10 years and provide safeguard you against forking out for unexpected costs.

 

Who is responsible for domestic appliance costs?

In most cases, landlords are responsible for the costs surrounding domestic appliance repair. Over time, devices break down, and more often than not, the tenant isn’t at fault. Yet there will be occasions where misuse from the tenant causes the issue.

However, trying to decipher whether or not the blame lies with the tenant is tricky. Unless a landlord is an expert in plumbing, electrics and repairs, it’s unlikely they will be able to decide if a tenant is at fault for appliances that have broken down.

As a result, the majority of landlords fix the issue if they can’t be sure the tenant is to blame. Landlords understand that household appliances are more susceptible to breaking down than other items around the home. Unless the tradesperson explicitly states the problem was the result of misuse by the tenant, landlords will generally cover the costs.

Fortunately, landlords can claim repair costs against their rental income. Similar to fair wear and tear, any repairs for domestic appliances can be offset, which provides landlords with some financial relief when it comes to doing their tax returns.

Replacement items are also claimable, though they need to be the exact same price as the initial appliances. This is known as Replacement Relief, which replaced the initial 10% landlords could claim from their rental income for wear and tear.

 

Should you use a property management company?

Property maintenance issues are one of the primary reasons why landlords instruct a managing agent to look after their buy-to-let apartments. The constant back and forth with a tenant can prove to be a hassle, especially if the landlord has a full-time job or other responsibilities.

Property management companies take over the task of liaising with tenants about issues around the rental apartment. They report back to the landlord with their expert opinion, at which point the landlord decides whether or not to go through with a particular repair.

Inside of a room with woodern floors and white cupboard doors that are open revealing a washing machine and a boiler

Landlords still need to pay for repairs as well as a property management fee, which is typically 10-15% of the yearly rental income. Property management services also offer other services:

The role of a property management company

  • Managing the tenant move-in process
  • Collecting rent on behalf of the landlord
  • Arranging maintenance repairs
  • Carrying out property inspections
  • Managing the check-out process when a tenant leaves

Whether a landlord decides to use a property management company depends on how hands-on they want to be during a tenancy. Some landlords like to take it upon themselves to arrange and fix maintenance issues. Others prefer the hassle-free approach and employ the use of a property management company.

 

A smarter way to let your apartment with Blueground

At Blueground, we offer all of the above traditional property management services and more. We go one step further and rent the property from landlords directly, professionally decorate your buy-to-let and source high-quality tenants for a move-in ready home.

A fully equipped white kitchen with kitchen appliances on top of the counter and the cupboard doors left open showing the cutlery inside

Blueground tenants use our app to report maintenance issues around the home, which makes the entire process more transparent for everyone involved. As a landlord, you won’t need to worry about arranging property repairs and can sit back and enjoy passive income while Blueground takes care of every aspect of your buy-to-let apartment.


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