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December 1, 2013

No one thinks twice about looking after their car, or having an annual boiler service. We all know the importance of keeping expensive items in good repair, maintained and serviced with a little touch up now and again.

Buildings require maintenance too.  Whether the properties are brand new, nearly new or over 100 years old, they need to be looked after. Building fabric deteriorates, mechanical and electrical systems require servicing and interior decoration can look tired very quickly.  Think of a building as a machine used for its specific purpose. Like any other machine it needs to be maintained. There are however other reasons why a property needs to be looked after on a regular basis.

Property owners, landlords and leaseholders have different responsibilities with regards to the property they own or lease. A leaseholder may have a full repairing liability, meaning that they have responsibility for the complete property, while a shopping centre or commercial property landlord may manage the core areas of a property via a service charge. It is essential that these obligations are understood by all. The legal interpretations of what landlords can use service charge for depends upon the lease and this needs to be considered when developing a programme of planned maintenance.

Planning a programme of maintenance is also vital to ensure buildings are compliant with the latest legislation, to ensure that any work is undertaken in a robust manner and to avoid unnecessary cost and disturbance and in order that a property retains its value. Landlords need to plan their maintenance over a five to ten year period so any potential increases in service charge are identified and tenants informed in plenty of time.

Many leaseholders of property are so busy running their business they forget about general on-going maintenance of the property they occupy.  Many do not check their lease obligations at the beginning of a lease and only find out at lease end that they were responsible for keeping the building or equipment in good repair and decorated to a good standard.  It is not unusual for a tenant to be faced with huge bills from their landlord at the end of their lease which they hadn't budgeted for, or for systems they have not had the benefit of using. Planned maintenance should go hand in hand with an integrated property strategy for buildings; it's a fundamental tool to assist owners and tenants keep their buildings in great condition, protecting their value in the future.

Consulting a property advisor who is committed to understanding your business and property needs and who can give you solutions to find the best programme of planned maintenance for you seems obvious.  Think of your property as a car and planned maintenance as a car service book, only this time contact a qualified professional property consultant not your local mechanic!

For more information, please contact building consultancy expert Nigel Tincknell at +44 (0)7831 273918 or email at ntincknell@vailwilliams.com.