When it comes to property upkeep, prevention is always better than cure. By routinely carrying out planned preventative maintenance tasks, landlords can help avoid costly and time-consuming repairs further down the line.
In this post, we take a look at what planned preventative maintenance entails and outline some key tasks that should be carried out on a regular basis. Whether PPM is part of a large property in block management or a single let, chances are you’ll need some level of PPM as a landlord.
If you’re still not sure what PPM is, think of it like an MOT but for properties. Planned preventive maintenance is a method of prevention used to make sure the building will remain functional and safe for dwellers until the next check.
What is the purpose of planned preventative maintenance?
Planned preventative maintenance is there to mitigate the effects of the problems associated with property investment. Whenever there is a physical building, it is inevitable that things go wrong. PPM reduces plumbing issues, draining issues and even roof damages that occur unpredictably throughout the duration property is owned.
Examples of severe damage due to a lack of PPM resulting in void periods of rent could include flooding in premises due to poorly maintained plumbing. A situation like this may involve landlords resorting to handing in a notice period to tenants to move them out and properly fix the property, missing out on a lot of rental income.
Besides preventing large problems, planned preventative maintenance also ensures properties are functioning at optimum so tenants are happy and can report any small problems they see fit.
As a result, a landlord implementing PPM will inadvertently encourage their tenants to take care of the property on the landlord’s behalf. Tenants will become familiar with reporting problems and knowing the PPM schedule. Acting as a second set of eyes to the property management company or the landlord.
If there is no planned preventative maintenance introduced, tenants commonly tend to avoid reporting problems as they’ll know it is not their responsibility or even forgo fixing anything in the property because they may have to pay. This depends on the terms of their tenancy agreement.
Commercial planned preventative maintenance
There is an increased need to conduct PPM for commercial properties. This is because they have a lot of equipment residential properties using PPM don’t necessarily have that may need additional planned preventative maintenance and be worth a lot of money.
For example, PPM is common for a freeholder who owns the land of the building. They’ll rent out the land they own to individual businesses as leaseholders, making it their responsibility to do planned preventative maintenance on the grounds.
As you can imagine, having a serious problem like damage to the owned land can force a business to close for a few days as repairs are organised.
This leaseholder will lose business and perhaps refuse to pay rent or move out of their leasehold agreement. All this can be prevented by improving the management of PPM and planned preventative maintenance of security walls, pavement or drainage. Using a company like Prime Property Management alongside PPM is a great way to help manage these tasks.
These higher risks are the key difference with PPM for commercial lets when comparing this to residential properties. More can go wrong in a commercial property. In these cases, a landlord may choose to take advice on PPM from a qualified professional from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. For more on their website click here.
Residential planned preventative maintenance
Residential properties will require less property maintenance on average if you are conducting checks on a single-let house or even a house of multiple occupancies (HMO).
Residential PPM checks get complicated when there is a large residential development such as a build to rent development. Nonetheless, these developments tend to have less expensive equipment and lower risks associated with them, unlike commercial builds.
Either way and regardless of the scale of your property development, PPM is probably a good idea because landlords can tailor PPM surveys to meet the requirements of the property. Therefore, they can legally keep up to date with the planned preventative maintenance you need in a property without breaking the bank.
Alternatively, a landlord could conduct some of the less complicated planned preventative maintenance checks themself, like drain clearance to name an example to save money. For other PPM checks that require qualifications like obtaining an EPC certificate, a landlord could hire energy assessors or qualified surveyors as and when needed as part of their PPM strategy.
PPM as a Maintenance Strategy
The essential part of planned preventative maintenance is that it’s planned. Occurring at a certain time of the year, and especially as a property is first bought. Much like a landlord will reference their tenants, it is also best practice to reference the safety of a building so you can plan a planned preventative maintenance strategy accordingly.
Once this strategy is set up, it is hard for things to go wrong and managing these PPM tasks perhaps using a property management app is great for the smooth operation of a property.
If a landlord doesn’t comply with the mandatory PPM regulations. Depending on the property, there could be a fine of up to £30,000. More on these sanctions can be found here on the government website.
What should be inspected under PPM?
There is a long list of potential equipment and construction that may be necessary for inspection under planned preventative maintenance.
It is necessary you find the parts of a building you want to monitor using PPM that are specific to your property and worth reviewing for you and also consider the mandatory planned preventative maintenance that has to be done under the law.
Over time, conducting planned preventative maintenance may save you money as you realise the value the check has to your property as all equipment remains optimally running.
CCTV can be maintained by cleaning the lenses of the cameras, making sure there has been no vandalism to the equipment and ensuring the cameras are able to rotate, swivel and view the key areas of a property. Keeping on top of this part of PPM will ensure landlords are able to have added security on their premises which will have an added benefit later down the line if there was a burglary or theft.
In commercial office builds, key fobs and wall mounts are commonplace. Making sure these gadgets are working effectively during PPM by checking for blown fuses and that the mounts are secured tightly to the wall is very important. The lack of security in office space where there is often a surplus of expensive equipment could cost you as a landlord or a tenant renting the space.
Air conditioning systems
Air conditioning units aren’t that common in the UK because of the climate. However, modern office space and certain residential buildings will have units. They need to be routinely cleaned of dust and their efficiency monitored.
Not doing so increases the noise and reduces the efficiency of the appliance which affects the tenant’s well-being. As well as decreasing the lifespan of the air conditioning unit, so PPM could reduce replacement costs in the long term.
Much like air conditioning units, dust needs to be cleaned from the ventilation frequently. A poorly maintained ventilation unit can fail to extract air. This may cause additional problems like excessive humidity in bathroom areas that can ruin walls and the inability to get rid of foul smells in kitchens and toilets, stopping tenants from enjoying the space they’re renting.
In commercial and residential properties alike, there are often fridges. They have to be routinely checked to see if they are still efficiently using electricity. In addition, in residential properties, the water filtration system has to be changed over time to produce fresh, clean water. This can be a health hazard if left untreated.
Gas and boiler equipment
The most common type of repair is boiler repair. So, it only makes sense to routinely check your heating system as well as boiler throughout the duration of the ownership of our property during planned preventative maintenance. In fact, in residential properties, it is required by law.
This is known as a Landlord Gas Safety Record or CP12 boiler check that must be done annually. It is often just rust, corrosion or the build-up of limescale over time that makes a boiler stop working. Routinely cleaning your boiler under a PPM is the most effective way to avoid this.
Roof fittings are some of the most troublesome problems that occur on a property, despite this they aren’t usually included during PPM. They can cause leaks that damage the furniture, walls and fittings. As well as this, they are hard to repair because of the complication of finding a professional to find where the leak is and repair it.
It is also common to find a large part of a roof needs replacement once there is enough damage for there to be a leak. So, leaks are indicative of the fact that there is significant housing disrepair and needs a large amount of expensive renovation. Including regular roof checks as part of a planned preventative maintenance issue solves this issue.
Gutters, gullies and drains
During planned preventative maintenance it is often found that leaves and vegetation will silently block drains over time in a property. Especially if you have large trees overshadowing it. Routinely check for blockages during PPM to avoid a severe block causing a leak that can cause flooding over time.
Similar to what happens in a boiler, plumbing can become corroded or full of build-up as time progresses in a property. Blocked pipes and leaky taps are all common findings during PPM. Especially in older builds that don’t receive planned preventative maintenance.
Working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms are essential to maintain PPM safety standards in residential properties. Depending on the type of property, you may also want to make sure fire extinguishers are still there on every floor too.
One of the most common checks under planned preventative maintenance is testing electrical equipment to have an Electrical Installation Conditions Report conducted every 5 years if a landlord owns an HMO.
Other checks include ensuring the Residual Current Device is installed and working on the property to protect tenants from electric shocks. A qualified electrician must do these PPM checks and the failure to do so under some laws may result in dilapidations.
When testing energy performance during planned preventative maintenance, on all residential properties and even some commercial properties, having an EPC certificate that passes regulations by scoring an E or above is mandatory.
Why do you need a preventative maintenance schedule?
The schedule is important because it is easy to put off planned preventative maintenance if it appears that nothing is wrong with a property and some checks also have to be done regularly under the law. It is through this process of PPM, checking equipment and structure, you can find problems early on and prevent expensive interferences with your business.
How can PPM save you money?
Without PPM, up to 80% of repairs are reactionary. This means equipment breaking is the main reason for the repair. If you are able to delay or stop these repairs using planned preventative maintenance, you can cut costs by replacing broken items.
This is especially true when the cost of repair is large such as when replacing expensive areas of a property or expensive equipment like boilers.
When should you use preventative maintenance?
If you’re not sure when to conduct PPM, speaking to a qualified surveyor, preferably from a recognised body like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors will be good to get advice on what kind of inspection your property will likely need and when. Surveyors can also conduct some of these checks themself too.
This prevents you from having inordinately high costs to planned preventative maintenance by only checking what you need to prevent risk. It could be the case that as the building ages, PPM checks will be needed more frequently as equipment will start to have a higher chance of breaking.
A good surveyor will also inform you of various risks and recommend PPM decisions on your build to save costs in the future. As well as undertake a PPM strategy at intervals suitable to the risk associated with your property.
For example, if there is a lot of high maintenance, expensive equipment and you are the freeholder of a factory for example. Getting a PPM check done every few months to a month may be necessary.
Alternatives to Planned Preventative Maintenance
A great alternative to a PPM is predictive maintenance. This is where equipment is checked every time it meets unsafe criteria. For instance, a boiler can be monitored every time it pumps a certain volume of water. This type of maintenance will save costs but also require technology installation upfront.
How often should a property be inspected?
Every 6 months is a standard interval of time between PPM checks. However, depending on the requirements of your property, you may need to conduct checks more or less frequently.
Equipment that is significantly expensive that is used a lot is probably worth checking more often during planned preventative maintenance whereas other types of inspections like checking gutters or roofs for damage for example could be done less often.
The answer lies in understanding the requirements of your property and continually adjusting your checks to avoid risk but also not cost you too much money.
Is planned preventative maintenance more expensive than reactive maintenance?
Planned preventative maintenance usually will cost you money in the short term but save you money in the long term. The savvy investor understands the importance of conducting PPM checks, especially at a large scale where it becomes impossible to keep track of all the equipment and materials in your building just by observation.
Benefits of planned preventative maintenance
There is a range of benefits to conducting regular planned preventative maintenance. These include allowing the assets in your property to have a longer lifespan with a reduced need for unplanned repair work.
Also, if you’re able to keep your property operating optimally for a longer period of time using PPM, this reduces the time when there are no tenants in your property paying rent, increasing rental income.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, fewer repairs mean fewer headaches which generally means life as a landlord will become easier.
Having less to worry about gives a landlord more time on their hands to do things that are important in moving a business forward like speaking to letting agents or finding new deals. Or perhaps they already have their plate full with other tasks if they’re a landlord who works without agents, to begin with.
Disadvantages of preventative maintenance
The most obvious disadvantage of PPM is of course the additional cost involved in conducting checks multiple times per year. A landlord may also have to pay a property manager extra to conduct these checks within their property management system. Also, if you’re inexperienced as a landlord, you may encounter surveyors who overprescribe your maintenance checks in order to make more money.
Predictive maintenance vs planned preventive maintenance (PPM)
Planned preventative maintenance is the process of planning ahead and conducting checks on your property at routine intervals. Predictive maintenance predicts when equipment is likely to need repair or break down and arranges maintenance before it happens.
Predictive maintenance is slightly riskier than PPM but it may save costs as you’ll likely have fewer checks done and only have them when repairs are likely to be needed. You can usually find out more about this method in a property management course.
However, predictive maintenance cannot completely replace planned preventative maintenance because there are certain checks like passing Energy Performance Certificates that simply have to be done at certain times throughout the year under the law.
It wouldn’t make sense to cut corners on PPM tasks that you could be sanctioned for as a landlord anyway. For more on these sanctions click here.
What is preventative maintenance software?
PPM software is a technology used to track the dates when repairs and maintenance need to be carried out on a property. It can be as simple as using an excel file to track things, but you would also want reminders and alerts for important tasks.
This can make the management of PPM tasks and the upkeep of a property significantly easier for landlords during property management.
In conclusion, it is essential for landlords to carry out PPM for legal reasons and it makes sense most of the time to do it for other reasons too, like saving money in the long term.
The amount and quality of planned preventative management checks are up to the landlord but cutting corners will usually cost them in the long term. Just like other forms of management like tenant management, and property management.
PPM is there to prevent problems and get rid of the additional stress of something going wrong.
Take also a look at our latest article on reinstatement costs.