What is planned preventative maintenance?

Planned preventative maintenance is a proactive approach to maintaining properties, assets, facilities or equipment. By carefully planning and carrying out maintenance tasks and checks at set periods of time, the life of the property is extended, reducing the amount of repairs needed, and, in the case of assets, reducing downtime, keeping tenants safe and happy.

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Why is PPM so important to property management?

Landlords and letting agents are subject to many regulations to ensure the properties they look after stay safe for tenants. With so many responsibilities on your plate, it can be easy to miss one of the many statutory safety checks that are required by law. Not only can this result in fines or criminal prosecutions, but missing certain aspects of compliance can prevent property repossessions or the ability to let to new tenants.

There’s another side to PPM, too. Not all PPM is about compliance. Regular maintenance of properties—including checks, minor component replacements, and non-urgent repairs when needed—can prevent larger problems from occurring that could require more costly fixes, or even render the property unusable.

A properly implemented and managed PPM schedule will protect the underlying value of your building, reduce unnecessary expenses and cut reactive maintenance costs.


What kind of challenges does PPM face?

Having all your maintenance tasks planned and scheduled months ahead of when they’re due is a great idea, but practically it’s not always possible. Arranging PPM can require multiple stakeholders - the agent, the landlord, the tenant, and the contractor - all of which have to be in sync.

The first step is ensuring the landlord is willing to fund the works. For compliance-related PPM, this is simple—things like gas safety certificates are the law. But for PPM intended to extend the life of the property or its assets, this may be more difficult, and you may have to make the case for why it is better to do minor maintenance to prevent larger problems from occurring.

The next challenge can be tricky: getting hold of a contractor. Britain is facing a contractor shortage driven by factors such as an ageing workforce, Brexit, and the cost-of-living crisis. Over 937,000 new workers will be needed over the next ten years to meet demand. This solidifies the importance of booking tradespeople far in advance and building strong relationships with contractors you can trust.

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Once you’ve found a contractor and have dates in mind for when they can visit, make sure you inform your tenants. Remember, you must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering their home, or they have the legal right to refuse you. Try and let them know in advance so they plan their work schedules and ensure somebody is in if they need to be.

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Electrical Installation Condition Reports: What is an EICR?

Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) are detailed inspections of the electrical installations at a rental property. Reports must be carried out by a qualified electrician who is registered with a government-approved scheme, such as the Electrical Safety Register, National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), or the National Association of Professional Inspectors and Testers (NAPIT).

The inspection identifies any damage, deterioration, defects or dangerous conditions within the electrical system. The electrician provides an assessment of the overall condition and safety of the electrics. The resulting report is a vital record of the state of the electrics at a property at the time it was taken, and can help you understand and predict issues in the years to come.

EICRs explained

Electrical Inspection Condition Reports examine each circuit and electrical installation in a property. Those that are considered a risk will be listed as ‘observations’ and given an individual grade:

  • C1 (danger present)
  • C2 (potentially dangerous)
  • C3 (improvement recommended)
  • Code FI (further investigation required without delay)

If any installation or installations within the property are given a C1, C2, or Code FI grade, then the property as a whole will be given an unsatisfactory report. If the property is deemed unsatisfactory, the landlord has a legal obligation to complete remedial works within 28 days. If no observations or only C3 observations are made, the property will be given a satisfactory report, and no further action is legally required.

Since 2021, all tenancies in the UK, whether new or existing, have required an EICR, and they must be updated every five years. This means there will be a big spike in EICR due dates in 2025 and 2026 — leading to contractor shortages and price rises.

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In Scotland, PAT testing of every electrical item in a property is required at least every five years under The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014. This rule is for Scotland only, and does not apply to England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)

What is an EPC?

An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) measures the energy efficiency of a home. A property’s energy efficiency standard is measured from ‘A’ to ‘G’, with ‘A’ being the highest level of energy efficiency and ‘G’ being the lowest.

How do I get an EPC?

Each EPC is issued by a qualified domestic energy assessor (England, Northern Ireland and Wales) or representative from a government-approved organisation (Scotland) who carries out a non-invasive survey. An assessor will look at factors including a building’s walls, flooring, roof insulation and boilers to determine its efficiency. A separate rating, an EIR (Environmental Impact Rating), is also given to measure a property’s carbon dioxide emissions. This, too, is measured from A to G.

 

Do I have to have an EPC?

All rental homes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland must have an EPC. In England, Wales and Scotland they must meet the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard, which is ‘C’. A home which does not meet this standard cannot be let. Northern Ireland does not have a minimum standard.

 

How long does an EPC last?

An EPC lasts ten years. As long as the property meets the minimum standard required to let a property, the same certificate can be used for different tenancies during this ten-year period. After this, a new survey must be carried out. 

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Fire risk assessments

As a letting agent in the UK, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that the properties you manage meet fire safety regulations. This includes installing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, maintaining fire doors in flats and HMOs, and ensuring that fire protection is in place between flats and escape routes.

 

Complete a thorough fire risk assessment

Fire risk assessments are a statutory requirement for every rented property. These assessments should identify potential fire hazards, evaluate the risks associated with these hazards, and recommend appropriate control measures to mitigate those risks.

  • Identify potential fire hazards: This includes identifying sources of ignition, combustible materials, and possible fire spread routes.
  • Evaluate the risks: Assess the likelihood of a fire occurring and the potential severity of the consequences.
  • Recommend control measure: Implement measures to eliminate or reduce the risk of fire, such as installing fire alarms and extinguishers, maintaining fire doors, and providing fire safety training to tenants

The law says that fire risk assessments must be reviewed regularly, but does not give a specific time period. We recommend that you review yours every three to five years, and every time the property is updated in a way that might change its risk in the event of a fire.

 

Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms

There should be smoke and carbon monoxide alarms on every floor of your properties and in any room with a solid fuel-burning appliance.  Ensure alarms are installed in the correct location and at the appropriate height

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Fire doors

Front doors of flats must be fire doors to stop the spread of heat and smoke in the event of fire. Ensure that these fire doors are self-closing and that they don't bang shut — tenants annoyed by fire doors are more likely to prop them open, eliminating their usefulness. 

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Gas Safety Certificates

What is a gas safety certificate?

A gas safety certificate, sometimes known as a CP12, certifies that the gas appliances in a property are safe to use. 

Landlords letting properties with a gas supply must:

  • Arrange for a Gas Safe engineer to inspect all gas appliances and flues before a tenant takes up occupation.
  • Provide a Gas Safety Certificate to tenants before they move in.
  • Ensure gas safety checks are undertaken every 12 months and certificates are provided to tenants within 28 days.

 

What does a gas safety check involve?

A Gas Safe registered engineer tests landlord-provided appliances, fittings and flues in a property for any defects. This check is recorded as a legal document and must be provided for tenants. The gas safety certificate must by law include certain kinds of information.What does a gas safety check involve?

A Gas Safe registered engineer tests landlord-provided appliances, fittings and flues in a property for any defects. This check is recorded as a legal document and must be provided for tenants. The gas safety certificate must by law include certain kinds of information.

 

What do gas safety regulations say?

Under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, landlords have a duty to make sure gas appliances, fittings and flues provided for tenants are safe.

Annual safety checks are required every 12 months but can be carried out between 10 and 12 months from the point of the previous check.

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House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence Renewal

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a property rented to three or more people who form more than one household and share toilet, bathroom, or kitchen facilities. Landlords must apply for an HMO licence from their local authority to operate an HMO. You must renew your HMO licence every five years.

Before 1 October 2018, not all HMOs needed a licence. However, following changes to the legislation, landlords are now obliged to ensure tenants' bedrooms meet minimum size criteria and that tenants comply with local waste disposal schemes.

Local authorities may also require properties with less than five bedrooms to have HMO licences. The penalties for incorrect HMO licensing are severe and can include unlimited fines, rent repayment, and even criminal conviction. Landlords who are unsure whether or not they require an HMO licence for their property should contact their local authority as soon as possible to avoid penalties.

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Legionella Risk Assessment

Property managers are legally obligated to conduct Legionella Risk Assessments (LRAs) under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect the health and safety of occupants. LRAs should be performed by qualified individuals with the expertise to assess and manage Legionella risks. Hiring a water hygiene specialist ensures compliance and provides guidance on minimising the risk of Legionnaires' disease.

The industry standard for LRAs is that they should be conducted every two years. However, the Approved Code of Practice L8 (ACoP L8) states that inspections should be carried out when there is reason to believe that the risk may have changed. This could include (but is not limited to):

  • If the property’s water system has been changed, moved or damaged. 
  • If a case of Legionairre’s disease has been reported.
  • If the residents are a particularly vulnerable population, such as elderly people.

Useful PPM to consider (but not legally required)

How often should boilers be serviced?

Boiler repairs can be among the most expensive kinds of emergencies for landlords. Regular preventative boiler maintenance can pay dividends in the long run.

UK law states that all gas appliances must undergo an annual gas safety check carried out by a registered Gas Safe engineer. As part of this check, the engineer will do a full examination of the boiler, assessing its functionality and checking for any faults or issues such as gas leaks, carbon monoxide leaks, or flame failures.

Beyond the legal requirement, best practice for landlords is to also arrange an annual service of the boiler by a heating engineer. This more thorough maintenance helps prevent issues occurring, as parts like pumps, heat exchangers and fans can be cleaned and replaced if showing signs of wear. Things like checking radiator valves, pipework and programmers help keep the system working efficiently.

Make sure to arrange any maintenance visits with your tenants before you book an engineer’s time. The last thing you want is to pay for a tradesperson to wait outside a property for an hour.

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Housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) checks

What is HHSRS?

Landlords have a legal duty to ensure their properties are safe for human habitation under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) lists 29 hazards that landlords must assess for and control that determine whether a house is in acceptable condition to be let to tenants. A local authority will assess a home according to this hazard checklist. They’ll do this if you apply for an HMO licence for the property. You can also ask them to visit, or the tenant may arrange an inspection if they suspect any hazards you should be concerned about.

We’ve created an HHSRS checklist to help you and your landlords stay on top of the hazards. It lists every hazard the council will assess for so you can ensure compliance and reduce the chance of being asked to carry out remedial works.

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How often should landlords do roof surveys?

Roof surveys are not a legal requirement for rental properties, but regular maintenance can help to avoid costly repairs later. Issues such as clogged drains and bird nesting can cause property damage, like leaks, so catching and preventing these problems through roof surveys can save both landlords and agents a lot of money in the long run.

Different ways of surveying your property’s roof include:

A qualified inspector visually can inspect your roof for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or potential problems. Visual roof surveys are typically carried out from ground level, but in some cases, the inspector may need to climb onto the roof to get a closer look.

This type of survey uses a long pole with a camera attached to it to inspect the roof from a distance. Extended camera surveys can be particularly useful for inspecting roofs that are high up or in difficult-to-reach areas.

A Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) may be needed to access roofs that are too high or dangerous to access from ground level. MEWP surveys are also useful for inspecting roofs with complex or unusual features.

Drones can provide a bird's-eye view of the roof for identifying potential problems that may not be visible from ground level, and can be cheaper than using more expensive MEWP equipment.

It is generally recommended to have a roof survey carried out every 5-10 years. However, this should be frequent in areas with severe weather conditions, and an inspection should be done as soon as any issue is noticed by the tenants, landlord or agent.

 

How to choose a roof surveyor

It is important to choose a qualified and experienced roof surveyor. Be sure to check that they are accredited by a reputable organisation, such as the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC).

Pest test survey

A pest test includes checking for both live pests and evidence of pests, such as droppings, nests, and damage to property. Pests can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Damage to property - Pests can damage property in a number of ways, including gnawing on wood, chewing through wires, and contaminating food.
  • Health risks - Pests can carry diseases and parasites that can harm humans and animals.
  • Financial losses - Pests can cause financial losses in a number of ways, including damaging property, contaminating food, and reducing productivity.

If pests are found during a pest test, the technician will recommend a course of treatment. This may involve using pesticides, traps, or other methods to eliminate the pests. The technician will also provide advice on how to prevent pests from returning in the future.

It is generally recommended to have a pest test carried out every 1-2 years. It is also important to have a pest test carried out if you notice any signs of pests in a property.

When choosing a pest control company, it is important to choose a company that is qualified and experienced. Be sure to check that they are accredited by a reputable organisation, such as the National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA).

How to create a preventive maintenance plan

After you’ve come up with a list of planned maintenance tasks for your properties, the next step is to create your PPM programme.

This involves working out:

  1. When and how frequently each property’s planned maintenance tasks must be completed.
  2. A robust, repeatable, error-minimising system that ensures each task is completed before properties become non-compliant.

Check out the sections above for guidance on how frequently each type of maintenance task is required, or download your own handy visual guide here. For non-statutory maintenance, each building will be different, so look through the property’s maintenance history and use your judgment.

When creating your preventative maintenance plan, there are multiple ways you can keep track of which maintenance events are due for each of your properties.

Create a checklist listing maintenance tasks and the date they were more recently completed, and attach a copy to each property’s documentation. The con of this method is that you will know what needs to be done when you remember to look at your properties’ checklists.

Setting your calendar or another reminder app to notify you when maintenance events are due is a great way to ensure that you never miss a deadline and fall into non-compliance. Reminders can also be set to recur at intervals, so you can stay on top of maintenance next year, in five years and in ten years. However, this method can become very complicated and demanding if your portfolio includes a large number of properties.

Some specialist property management software has tools for recurring maintenance tasks. Once a property is added into the system, you will only be notified of it once its maintenance tasks are due. You can then store property histories and documentation for full visibility of the audit trail.

Fixflo’s PPM module allows you to upload all your planned maintenance tasks in bulk, and the set-and-forget system means you’ll never have to think about them until they’re required.

Using Contractor Marketplace for your PPM, you won’t even have to manually reach out to your tradespeople to sort maintenance tasks. Contractors will be auto-assigned to tasks and will arrange visits with tenants themselves, freeing your time to focus on other areas of property management.

 

Your planned maintenance programme can be as hands-on or hands-off as you like. If you want to find out more about how you can do your PPM through Fixflo, reach out to us directly — we’re always happy to help.

 

Document all maintenance and keep a full audit trail

It is crucial to document and record all maintenance activities, including the tasks carried out, the dates of completion, and the names of the contractors involved. This documentation can be used for a variety of purposes, such as tracking maintenance costs, demonstrating compliance with regulations, and resolving disputes with tenants. Again, this can be done manually or by using software solutions.

Choosing software for planned preventative maintenance

Why not just use Excel for planned maintenance?

If you only have a small portfolio of properties, spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel may indeed be OK for keeping track of and scheduling maintenance activities. But once you get beyond a certain amount, it’s fraught with risk. Just a small input error could cause one or more of your properties to become non-compliant, leading to loss of reputation or financial penalty.

Spreadsheet software can be easy to pick up, but difficult to master and use effectively. Although it can be powerful, it can take many hours of learning to know how to unlock its secrets and work efficiently. And its security features tend to be limited—would you trust important business and client details to be protected in a spreadsheet that’s only password-locked?

 

Property management systems vs specific repairs and maintenance solutions

Many popular property management systems include tools to help arrange repairs and maintenance. However, this can be a “jack of all trades, master of none” scenario as it can be just one of the many features the software may claim to offer.

Specialist repairs and maintenance solutions like Fixflo, on the other hand, are designed from the ground up specifically to handle the demands of maintenance. That means they’re built and updated according to the needs of property managers and contractors involved in the day-to-day work. They are designed to make the process as easy as possible, using tools like automation to make property managers’ lives easier and give them back time to spend on other aspects of the business.

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How much does planned preventative maintenance cost?

Each planned maintenance task varies in cost depending on how long it takes to do, how technical it is to complete, and how in demand that kind of certification is at a given time.

  • Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs) generally cost between £100 and £300, depending on the size of the property and the number of electrical installations inside it. We’re predicting that prices will spike in 2025 and 2026 because EICR renewals will be in high demand — check out our guide to find out why.
  • Energy Performance Certificates usually cost around £60 to £120.
  • Fire Risk Assessment costs depend greatly depending on the size of the residence. Depending on the number of bedrooms, landlords can expect to pay between £200 and £600, but there may be exceptions for particularly large or complex properties.
  • Gas Safety Certificates are completed by Gas Safe Engineers, whose rates are typically between £70 and £110.
  • House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence costs vary wildly depending on the Council the property is in. Often, there is a basic licensing cost and a per-room rate on top, as well as other possible charges. Make sure to check your local rules.
  • Legionella Risk Assessments typically cost between £90 and £200, though in many situations where risk is minimal, an assessment does not require a trained professional to carry out.

These maintenance costs, along with optional ones like boiler services and roof surveys, can rack up to hundreds of pounds per year, and thousands of pounds across longer periods of time.

There is also a time cost to maintenance tasks. Fixflo customers report that they typically spend around 40 minutes on a single task (including reaching out to and chasing stakeholders, booking appointments, approving quotes, paying invoices, etc.) For agencies with many properties, this can add up to hundreds of hours per year.

 

Find out more information on the time costs of PPM and how Fixflo can help you by automating your planned maintenance here.

 

How can I ensure my PPM is successful?

A successful planned maintenance schedule protects the value of your building, reduces unnecessary expenses and cuts the time and money spent on reactive repairs. It will also prevent your properties from falling out of compliance and risking legal penalties.

Successful PPM relies on forward planning and scheduling events ahead of time to increase the chance of contractor availability, and keeping a close eye on your portfolio to know what needs doing and when.

Although legal responsibilities will generally be the same across your portfolio, your non-statutory PPM requirements may differ. Therefore, it’s important to be proactive. Assess your properties and what may need to be done. It could be as simple as clearing leaves from drains if a property is particularly close to trees. Consider how often a task should be done and who should do it. Then, plan ahead to ensure all parties involved are aware and available.

Once you’ve implemented your plan, keep an eye on how things are going and adjust as necessary. Maybe the maintenance you’ve scheduled every month isn’t actually required as often as that. Or maybe you’re having issues with finding contractors? Don’t feel like once you have a plan, you have to stick with it—the key to successful PPM is to make changes when necessary to keep your properties in top condition.

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