One of the best ways to invest is in real estate as it is one of the fastest growing portfolios in most countries around the world. The property is all purchased, an insurance & management company is picked, and all is smooth, until that day when there is a need for repairs or maintenance especially in commercial or rental property.

Although most maintenance jobs are easily managed with a good building maintenance plan, there are always the unexpected emergencies that happen, like a ceiling that falls or flooring that lifts unexpectedly. If you have employed the services of a reputable facilities management team with extensive experience in maintenance management, you will be able to simply pick up the phone and tell them that there is a problem. Otherwise, you will have to start searching for a company that provides commercial maintenance services that can attend to your problem.

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Excellent management companies are involved in the maintenance/ repair management; they do all the work including dealing with the insurer if necessary. It is necessary to identify where the burden of responsibility falls each time. The following are the responsibilities of the resident beyond this point; it becomes the owner’s domain.

The resident is required to keep the property in neat and clean condition and to perform minor repairs per the terms of the lease. Our property managers are trained to charge back to the tenant any item that was a direct cause of the tenant’s actions. We do see many times where drainage stoppages, appliance repairs and the like are the direct cause of the tenant and/or their guests. These items WILL be charged back to the tenant according to their lease agreement.

Typically, all residents are responsible for:

  • Securing all utilities for the home, unless otherwise provided
  • Lawn care, unless otherwise provided
  • Maintaining a clean and sanitary property
  • Promptly disposing of all garbage in appropriate receptacles
  • Supplying and changing heating and air conditioning filters at least once a month
  • Minor repairs to your home, including, but not limited to, to replacing light bulbs and clogged drains
  • Changing the smoke detector batteries during tenancy (these are new when you move in)
  • Taking all necessary precautions to prevent broken pipes due to freezing or other causes
  • Replace any lost or misplaced keys
  • Paying any periodic, preventative, or additional extermination costs desired by Tenant
  • Removing any standing water
  • Knowing the location and operation of the main water cut-off valve and all electrical breakers
  • Promptly notifying Landlord, IN WRITING, of all needed repairs
  • Complying with all Homeowner Association Rules
  • Following the terms of your lease – View a Sample Lease.

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One of the most important roles of the resident is to notify the owner of all needed repairs in writing, which will allow the management company or owner to pursue a claim with their insurance company. There are two main types of repairs; general and urgent repairs. The urgency of the repair will determine how fast action is taken; for example, in urgent repairs the owner can cover the cost of repairs as they follow up with the insurer.

1.General (non-urgent) repairs

  • Both the tenant and the property owner must maintain the premises in as near as possible to the same condition it was in when the tenancy started – apart from reasonable wear and tear.
  • If repairs are needed:
  • A tenant must notify an owner/agent within seven days;
  • If the tenant is not at fault for the repairs, the property owner must make the repairs at their own cost.
  • If the tenant caused the need for repair, the tenant must pay any costs
  • While it is not a legal requirement that the tenant notifies the property owner/agent in writing of the need for repair, it is recommended that this is done in writing (letter/email/text message) and that the tenant keeps a copy of this notice. This may assist in dealing with any disputes over repairs at a later stage.
  • The property owner/agent has 28 days from when they were notified by the tenant to do the repair except if the repair relates to a cooking stove in which case the owner has 14 days;
  • An ‘essential service’ requiring repair can also be ‘replaced’ if the replacement is of the same standard.

2.Urgent and emergency repairs

Emergency repairs are usually required when damage occurs (e.g. a broken window from a storm). If this happens, the tenant must notify the property owner of the urgent repair as soon as they are aware of the problem.

Essential services include:

  • water
  • sewerage
  • removal of waste water from kitchens, bathrooms and laundries
  • electricity
  • heating
  • cooking stove
  • hot water service

If an essential service has ceased to function, the property owner has an obligation to carry out the repairs as soon as practicable after being notified of the need for repair. An essential service requiring repair can be replaced if the replacement is of the same s.

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Insurance companies are one of the best examples of necessary evils. Shamelessly based on making profits rather than genuinely compensating clients for the damages or risks they are insured for, yet they have received premiums religiously. Insurers are notorious for denying valid claims with no remorse.

It is that age-old conundrum: You pay for homeowners insurance to protect yourself from financial ruin, yet filing a claim when disaster does strike puts you at risk of seeing your annual premiums increase by hundreds of dollars. Worse, either a primary claim or too many claims in a given period, no matter how legitimate, could lead to losing your house’s coverage altogether.
While it can be a precise calculation to make, every time there is damage to your property or an accident on it, you need to consider carefully whether it makes financial sense to file a claim or absorb the losses yourself. The fates of your homeowners insurance and your bank account hang in the balance.

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Fortunately, experience is practice for the wise. Insurers are known to increase the annual premium after you make a claim with the reason being that the “risk” has increased. However, if they want to play games; then make sure you are the one scoring in their game. Here are some of the ways that you can win;

If the damage to your home or property is extensive, contact your insurance company immediately to file the claim. It is also a good idea to take the following steps:

  • Take pictures of the damage as soon as possible: You will need to document the damage that your home or property suffered quickly and accurately. Take plenty of images, and even walk through your home with a camcorder to paint a complete picture.
  • Take all the costs into account: When you value the claim, include the cost of materials, labor, and the value of items that you lost. Add in any money that you have to spend on alternate living arrangements, the income you lost from missing work, the money you spent on a rental car, and any other additional expenses.
  • Prevent further damage, but notify the insurance company first: If you can prevent further damage with temporary repairs by you or a contractor, then you should talk to the insurance company about what you should do. Do not take any action without advice from your insurance company.
  • This immediate prep work can make your home insurance claim process go much smoother, and reduce the chance of problems in receiving the insurance money you deserve.

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The owner needs to be the wiser to win this game. Therefore, take clear pictures of the damage immediately and include all the costs in your claim. However, the homeowner needs to stay on top of things by ensuring that the home is well maintained and that the loss or damage is covered by the policy.

1.Make sure you have suffered a covered loss before you file a claim. If you are not sure, re-read your policy language closely or contact your state insurance department for guidance. Otherwise, leave your insurer out of it.

2.Do not report to your insurer damage or deterioration that is not covered. Most phone calls and emails to insurance agents and adjusters are monitored and/or recorded. A slip of the tongue over the phone about the condition of your property could potentially cause a future claim denial or cause your premium to increase upon renewal.

3.If you do mention that your property needs repairs – for goodness sakes, make them! The temptation may be strong to save your money and hope for the best in this troubled economy, but this short-sighted frugality could come back to haunt you. Once word gets out about a home maintenance issue, think of the Waterston’s and start bringing those repairs to a speedy conclusion.

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One of the best things that you can do is to ensure that your property is well maintained so that the insurer has no basis of denying your claim on grounds of poor maintenance. The following are the documents you will need to make a claim;

All Claims

  • Copy of insurance policy and/or Declaration Page
  • Copies of vendor/contractor invoices, bids, payments, etc. on all repairs to date.
  • Copies of any receipt for materials that we used for temporary, emergency, and permanent repairs.
  • Copies of any correspondence with the adjuster, insurance agency, insurance company, etc.
  • Copies of any claim report prepared by any adjusters or their estimators.
  • Documents that confirm the date of the original construction, blueprints, remodeling plans, etc.
  • Adjusters contact information.
  • Agent/broker contact information.
  • Cause of Loss
  • Date of Loss

For Business Interruption Claims

  • Copies of the last three years income statements. If we had a growth trend that can be supported from the last four or five years, we will also need those financial statements.
  • Copies of the rent roll that shows occupancy trends for the last three years. Same as two above, it the rent rolls were steadily increasing during the past five years then we need all the statements.

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