Some of the smallest maintenance can have the biggest impact on the value of your asset.
None of the below items cost a lot of money to maintain, yet can have a huge effect on the building or precinct. If they are not maintained properly then a building can begin to feel like a ghetto very quickly. This leads to a 'spiral down effect'; because the common areas (corridors, lobbies, car park etc.) don't look good in the first place, residents don't treat these areas with respect, and damage occurs. The precinct then looks even worse, begins to feel unsafe, and the values of the properties and rent decline.
On the other hand, if these items are looked after, then residents will treat the common area better, and the building feels a 'spiral up effect'; renters are keen to live in the building, property values increase, and residents feel safer and happier.
Having good lighting is the easiest way to make people feel safe and secure in your precinct. Light fittings and sensors can be fixed by either the building manager or an electrician, and should be replaced within 24 hours of malfunctioning.
A faulty intercom is a security risk - often the faults can be rectified by simply resetting the device, or a quick and easy replacement of a handset in an apartment, or replacing the door striker.
Faulty doors closers are also security risks, but they can also be a fire risk (if a closed door is designed to stop the spread of a fire). Replacing these can be between $100 and $500, depending on the door. If it's a fire door that's the problem, a properly qualified fire technician will need to replace the closer, rather than just a building manager.
Some closers just require adjustments, rather than full replacement, which can save the owners corporation money.
Rubbish in the hallways is not only unsightly and smelly, but it's also a tripping hazard. Rubbish needs to be removed quickly. If there is excessive mud in the corridor, brought in by a resident's shoes on a rainy day, this needs to be cleaned up quickly before it spreads over the building or before a messy corridor becomes the new norm.
Make sure that any broken light globes are replaced quickly, the stairwells are free of any obstructions (including rubbish), and that they are regularly mopped. A dingy and dirty stairwell can feel very unsafe, not to mention downright dangerous in the event of a fire.
For these items to be maintained optimally, an 'expenditure matrix' policy from the owners corporation needs to be implemented, along with a maintenance reporting procedure.
Expenditure Matrix Policy
An expenditure matrix policy can allow the building manager or owners corporation manager to make decisions regarding expenditure without having to consult the general membership of the owners corporation or the committee. A basic policy can be outlined as follows:
Spends of up to $1000: OC Manager can spend without consultation
Spends of between $1001 and $5000: OC Manager can be with written approval from the chairperson
Spends of over $5000: OC Manager requires general resolution to approve expenditure
These figures can be changed depending on the size of the budget, or building. The policy should also outline budgeted versus unbudgeted funds, whether it's from the administration or maintenance fund, and whether the expenditure is programmed, ad-hoc or emergency repairs. Your OC Manager should be able to produce such a policy on request.
The expenditure can then be viewed by all the committee members or general membership at the next meeting, to help ensure that all expenses occur at a market rate.
Maintenance Reporting Procedure
If you have an on-site building manager, they can, and should, report these simple items to the OC manager when they are on site. Residents should also have access to a maintenance reporting form online, so that they can bring matters to the attention of the building management also - see the Melb OC form here.
Minor Maintenance Performed Quickly and Easily
With these policies and procedures in place, the OC Manager can authorise these repairs very quickly - if a resident notifies the management of a light sensor not working on the second floor one evening as they return home from work, the management team can have an electrician on site the following day to repair the sensor and have the corridor looking bright and feeling safe, less than 24 hours after the report being made. The OC manager should also do regular site inspections to ensure the building looks and feels optimal, and with the proper expenditure policies in place, can guarantee that none of the minor maintenance issues become major building maintenance issues unnecessarily.
Contact Melb OC to find out how expenditure policies can work best for your precinct.