Come the start of September and the summer seems to have come to an official end. The weather starts to turn and the nights pull in, we've had the last bank holiday Monday until Christmas now, and school holidays have now ended. It seems that everyone is now beginning the autumn period, and dare we say it, the eventual run up to Christmas.
Now, although managing property is a continuous process all the year round, and to some degree work can average out and be only more demanding when situations crop up at anytime, there are certain things that you can begin to prepare for as you come out of the summer period. As you exercise some good property management skills and be pro-active, you can therefore be one step ahead of everyone as you enter the autumn period.
So here are 7 top tips along these lines, which will be applicable to some degree in all residential and commercial property management scenarios:
1. Getting to Grips With Gritting
Yikes, I know this seems crazy to be talking of gritting in below-freezing conditions only at the end of the summer, but this is actually the best time of year to now prepare for a few months’ time.
If you outsource these snow-clearance and ice-prevention measures at all, then now's the time to get the new basis and charges agreed well ahead of time, with the right procedure ready to roll.
Even if it's more basic measures like filling grit bins, now can be the best time to buy stock on bulk and store for a rainy, or rather colder day.
2. Roof Repairs and Maintenance
In a similar way you'll tend to find roof areas prone to the autumn and winter poorer weather conditions of rain and wind, and all kinds on nasty leaks and issues emerging.
Well, don't wait until when until it's costly and rushed to get a good roofer to resolve, but take the bull by the horns now and arrange when they have time and longer and better daylight hours to do the work.
Whether you're planning for a whole new flat roof, or a simple annual gutter clear and roof inspecting, now’s the time to arrange it.
3. Shedding Light on the Subject
As the darker hours begin, you may also be faced with needing more artificial lighting, whether internally or externally.
Ideally these should be in place anyway, with clever features like sensors so they only come on when required, and efficient measures like LED bulbs in order to reduce costs.
But reality is often different, so check if any repairs and testing are due now, to not only save on reactive costs later on, but benefit from electricity charge savings, particularly with fears of ever-increasing rates.
4. External and Internal Cleaning & Maintenance Changes
The two bread-and-butter services you tend to focus on a lot in the summer is the outside gardening and landscaping, and then the cleaning of any internal areas. Everyone quite rightly wants these looking pukka and being able to handle the often additional use and abuse of the summer when kids are off school and people are out and about.
So touch base with these key contractors and see how the summer has gone. Check if there have been any extra issues and costs to be noted, and what needs to be accommodated for during the season change.
Cleaners may have to get ready for more muddy boots in communal areas over the winter, and the gardener for the litter-picking stage in autumn and detailed gardening tasks like seasonal pruning rather than bog-standard grass-cutting.
5. The Service Charge Preperation
All these service and maintenance changes can have an effect on costs, including any service charges. So check if actual expenditure is still in line with any annual budget, as its best to deal with any big cost differences now rather than later.
Also, check when the year end accounts are due, often at the end of the calendar year. You can therefore begin preparing for these and any expected changes now, and making sure that you crack-on with reconciliation of older years when everyone's back from their holidays.
6. Making Sure Rents Are Paid
Well in addition to rent there are also other forms of payments as well, whether sale proceeds or other charges.
For commercial property the next popular quarter to charge from is the end of September, so these invoices need raising and issuing soon. Even if it's just regular monthly payments, just check that these are still being paid okay, as sometimes the summer can be a pressure-point for people to afford this both for their personal homes and holiday expenses, and within business with reduced trade over the summer.
7. Getting Organised
And last but not least, make sure you've organised yourself well with just the right property management systems.
The summer is actually a good time to de-clutter things, file things away, and deal with those issues you never normally get around to. The more you do this, and review how your systems and procedures are, the better this will be as you head into the busy autumn period.
You also tend to see more action from people from September onwards and the end of the holiday season, whether that's reporting to clients, organising contractors, or arranging meetings. The more you can get these things booked in the diary and prepared for now, the better it will be later on.
Getting Ahead of the Property Management Game
Therefore as the summer unfortunately ends and the busyness of September begins to bite, these 7 tips will help you get on top on managing properties more easily. This not only leads to less stress and reactive problem solving, but eventually reduced costs and better returns as you take a more longer-term view of things.
So whether it's the practical maintenance issues at the property changing with the seasons, or the occupier and money side of things changing pace with the new energy-levels after the summer period, these pointers will help you get one foot firmly ahead of the other.
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