How Much I’ve Spent On Maintenance Costs Over The Years As A landlord

BTL Landlord Maintenance Costs

An interesting question got posed in the landlord forum yesterday,

what kind of maintenance costs landlords have had to pay over the years?

So I’m going to answer it from my personal experience…

So my costs will be based on maintaining 3-4 BTL properties over the past 5 years. I can tell you already, I haven’t had to dig too deep so far. Actually, I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate, I know that, especially after hearing some of the horror stories from fellow landlords. I’ve heard some stories that have been truly mortifying.

However, despite my good fortune, I still think it’s important to share my experiences, because it provides balance, and also highlights some of the costs that can incur during your watch.

In reality, it’s literally impossible to provide a universal figure for estimated maintenance costs, it will be different for every landlord. What I think is far more important is for all landlords to expect the unexpected (i.e. keep a contingency fund) and learn from the experiences (i.e. when something breaks down, think of reliable and robust ways to reduce the chances of it occurring again).

1] Painting (£400)

After mid to long term tenants vacate it’s usually inevitably that the entire property will be in desperate need of a repaint.

So I’ve had to do this twice so far, both which involved a 2 bedroom house.

I painted the entire house myself, so labour costs were avoided, but if you value your time (I clearly don’t value mine), that’s something you want to consider.

The £400 expense includes paint and all the accessories e.g. brushes, trays, masking tape etc. All the usual jazz.

2] Replacing front door (£150)

My ex-savage tenant managed to smash the front door in half. How it happened is anyone’s guess, and the explanation my tenant provided was less than satisfying, “it wasn’t me”

Okay, great. That was useful.

In any case, this incident opened my eyes to the world of front doors, specifically how ludicrously expensive they can be (who fucking knew?). You can read more about that awful experience here: I’ve fallen out with my ex-Tenant over her security deposit. That was a fun experience.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have an Inventory Form in place, otherwise I would have been able to shake the pennies out of my tenant’s security deposit to cover the costs. However, after tedious negotiations, I did manage to reluctantly squeeze £100 out of her, which was certainly better than a kick in the nuts.

I ended up paying £150 out of my own pocket.

Always conduct thorough property inventories. Lesson learned.

3] Replacing garden fence (£80)

Stupid Mother Nature knocked down part of the garden fence in the back garden. Fortunately, none of the panels or posts needed replacing, just replanting and properly reinforced.

The handyman who did the repair insists it will take a tropical hurricane to knock them down again.

We’ll see, mate!

4] Replacing carpet (£400)

After a long-term tenant vacated, it was apparent that she and her children had a fetish for shitting and pissing on carpets. There were questionable stains scattered around everywhere.

Rather than wasting time and money on getting the carpets professionally cleaned, I just had the whole lot replaced. Yes, some times a splash of soap and a good old scrub will do the trick, but in this case, it just didn’t make economical sense.

5] Plumbing & Heating (£600)

This has been my biggest expenditure over the years. Painful, in fact.

It turns out that one of my properties was fitted with a genuinely bullshit boiler, that’s essentially a worthless tin-can. Consequently, it’s cost me £600 to maintain to date.

At first the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) needed replacing, and then a valve needed replacing.

The next time it fails me – which it certainly will – it’s going straight onto the scrap heap. I’m done with it. Piece of shit.

6] Electrical Fault (£120)

I can’t remember what, why or when, but I remember the expense. Typical tight-fisted landlord, right?

At one point the electrics failed in one of my properties. Something or another needed replacing, and it cost £120.

7] Gas Safety Certificate (£600)

A Gas Safety Certificate is a legal required for every BTL, which needs renewing per annum.

Each safety certificate costs approx £65 per property, per year. I’d say I’ve spent about £600 in total.

8] Other miscellaneous junk (£300)

Other small issues over the years that have cropped up:

  • Poly filling holes in walls
  • Refitting kitchen units
  • Replacing door knobs, light switches, and plug sockets
  • Multiple bottles of Mr Muscle sink unblocker (No, I’m serious)

I estimate I spent about £300 over 4-5 years on “other stuff”

The Total (£2,650)

I don’t think that’s bad at all. I’ve definitely been one lucky son-of-a-gun *touches wood*

I may have missed a few maintenance costs out, but that’s all I can remember for now. Landlords usually remember the big financial hits, because we weep over that shit for years. I’m no different. So I’m pretty confident I covered the main expenses.

How much have you paid out?

How much do you pay out yearly or have you paid out in total for maintenance costs?

Also, what’s been, or consistently is, the most painful maintenance expense(s)?

19 Join the Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Sam 9th October, 2009 @ 14:41

Out of interest - how old are your properties?

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 9th October, 2009 @ 21:29

They're all between 10-15 years old!

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Sam 9th October, 2009 @ 21:32

Crikey you are a lucky sausage - although I have yet to have tenants who "shit & piss on carpets" so maybe I should count myself a lucky 'sausagette' ;)

Guest Avatar
Sabine 10th October, 2009 @ 01:58

so your tenants lived in a house for 4 years and you didn't even offer them a decorating budget ? No wonder they sullied the carpets (if that is what it really was, and not just coffee and juice stains). If you would get a proper electric check done, your electrics wouldn't fail and put your tenants in danger either.

The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 10th October, 2009 @ 23:19

That's like saying if you get a MOT every year, your car will never breakdown. Get real! The electrics were/are safe and in full working order. Some times shit happens.

A decorating budget? The tenants weren't my children, you realise that, right?

Guest Avatar
twattybollocks 11th October, 2009 @ 09:47


it must be nice on the planet you are on! Which one is that?


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John Tsigarides 11th October, 2009 @ 20:59

I work for my father's property company and we have about 10 rented out properties. In relation to boiler issues I have found British Gas's Homecare 100 agreement, excellent for around 135 pounds per year, you get a landlords safety certificate (every year) and unlimited call outs for boiler and control problems including all parts and labour. It all saves the hassel of you doing anything, as the tenant can ring them directly.

You can get higher levels of cover, e.g. including radiators etc, but as with anything the higher the cover - the higher the cost!



Guest Avatar
Sabine 18th October, 2009 @ 21:20

it's the planet where landlords undestand that it is in their best interest to make tenants feel like they are living in their home, not in some kind of temporary acommodation which can be treated as such. I know, this is the norm in the UK, but with things changing the way they are here (homeownership is no longer a given right), it is time that landlords adjust and no longer see us as just someone who pays their mortgage for nothing in return. In Germany the rental contract states that a rented property has to be re-decorated every 2 years unless both parties agree that it isn't necessary at this time.

Guest Avatar
John 19th October, 2009 @ 10:32


I think re-decorating a rented property every two years is excessive. I have a great relationship with all my tenants - they know when they phone me with a problem, it gets sorted as soon as possible. In terms of decorating, as long as they inform me of what they intend to do in terms of decorating/painting etc - before hand - I don't have any problem with that - sometimes I've even chipped in for the materials.

You have to remember though that with costs such as, Landlord Insurance, Tenancy Deposit Scheme Costs, Inventories, Gas & Electric Checks and Certificates, Boiler and Applicance Repairs etc etc - You have a lot of outgoings as a Landlord - not all the rent goes into your pocket!

If you've personally had a bad experience with a Landlord, than that's unfortunate. But there are a lot of Landlords out there that really look after their tenants. At the end of the day, Landlords are running a business, not a social care programme...

Guest Avatar
Aunty_P 22nd October, 2009 @ 10:49

Sabine, your expectations on redecoration seem unrealistic to say the least. Landlords have enough mandatory costs to pay out for as it is. I notice you're quoting German contracts. This is a website for UK landlords as far as I know. BTW, all my tenants are very happy and tend to stay for a very long time because I keep the properties well maintained and problems fixed immediately.

I'm glad you're not one of my tenants!

Guest Avatar
GillsMan 26th October, 2009 @ 08:44

I became a landlord in April. Tragically my boiler had a problem, but also the radiators were all sludged up as well, so the whole lot had to be cleaned, a valve replaced, etc. Cost me £750 (British Gas tried to charge me over £1000 before I got someone else in). I only make a small profit every month, so that cost me several months worth of profit. The only good thing is I now don't owe the tax man any money at the end of the year.

Guest Avatar
Sam 28th October, 2009 @ 08:36

Unfortunately, many people do not estimate how much it costs to run a property - there needs to be quite a big margin between your income and expenses to ensure you make a profit.

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Julie 1st June, 2011 @ 13:35

Argh, the joys of being a landlord. My ex and I split several years ago, when the economic downturn hit, and were unable to sell our modest 2 bed property. He's now living abroad and I'm stuck with maintaining it. It's all managed by an agent, but God the whole ordeal of owning and maintaining a rented property is certainly not for the feint hearted. It has cost me a fortune, from replacing shower heads at a cost of £165 + VAT, to fixing a brand new washing machine twice a year and yes, redecorating etc etc. Plumbers, plasterers, electricians and roofers - I've been through them all (!). I would gladly give the keys back to the mortgage lender, but it's not that easy.
Going to be putting it on the market again. Fingers tightly damn crossed the f***ing place sells...I need my santity (and my salary) back!

Guest Avatar
Vincent 22nd July, 2011 @ 14:30

Hi all, does anyone have experience in property maintenance companies?

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Hannah 9th February, 2012 @ 13:26

I would like to ask if anyone of you is "outsourcing" to service companies? How much do you pay for them? How about the billing of heat and water? Does anyone do it for his tenants?

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Jeremy 9th February, 2012 @ 21:35

Hello Hannah,

I hope you get enough replies to your question to get a meaningful response to your question.

There are a few "business models" to Landlording, involving a spectrum of involvement in maintenance.

I would rather poke a wide, hot, rusty spike up my bottom before I delegated maintenance responsibility to an outsourcing firm. My viewpoint is:

- The house is the major asset of the business;
- The house needs to continue to be a good place to live for the existing tenant;
- The asset has to retain its ability to be attractive to new tenants promptly;
- The asset needs to retain its ability to be sold for a good price, should that be necessary;
- Resolving the few problems which do occur is a fantastic opportunity for the landlord to show he offers a superior service to his peers, very useful goodwill generator;
- It is easy to develop a good network of local tradesmen who rely upon local recomendation to survive;
- Assesing maintenance needs is not difficult, especailly when you can talk with your tenants.

Look at the post from Julie above. £165 to supply and fit a shower head!! Solid gold, I assume. Plus VAT!! A local trader won't be big enough to register for VAT. Deal with someone who's got to put 20% on all their prices. You're either throwing money away or they're cutting corners to price match the smaller non-VAT adding traders.

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Hannah 10th February, 2012 @ 13:31

Hi Jeremy,

thanks for your reply. I actually do neither have the time, nor am I in the place for setting up such network, you suggest for I do not live in UK. Therefore I was trying to find a property management company or something similar to do the job. But it is impossible to get an overview neither on the companies and their services nor on the prices they charge for their services.

If anyone here has an idea about where to get such an overview - please comment.

Thank you

Guest Avatar
Jeremy 11th February, 2012 @ 14:00

Hello Hannah,

Ah, something about the way you wrote your first post (no background detail about your story or why you were asking) made me think you were either working for one of these firms or doing some academic research on them.

So where are your houses? If they're near me, I'd happily share my tradesmens' details with you. Other than that:
- Why not involve your letting agent? You must trust them if you've left the country and they're looking after your house.
- What about asking your friends and family still living here for the details of a well regarded general builder? It would be unusual for them, but they could be happy to pro-actively see what needs doing periodically.

Guest Avatar
Hannah 14th February, 2012 @ 09:15

Hi Jeremy,

hmm, I am surprised about the different view on the topic in England compared to Germany (where I live now) or France (where I lived for some years). In France (and Germany) the main discussion is less about maintainance and repairs but about energy costs and service costs that can/have to be shared among the tenants (e.g. central heat, hot water, general electricity and so on).

In Germany, I have a cousin who did the cost allocation herself but it seems very complicated and time-intensive, because she often had to discuss with her tenants who were complaining that costs are not allocated among them in the right way. Now she handed the whole thing over to a service company, but she still stays responsible to organize repairing and maintainance. The Germans have strict regulations concerning repairs and maintainance, there are legal prescriptions you have to obey, otherwise tenants are quickly sueing you. So this is actually not a topic.

I think the best is, to involve a letting agent as you suggested.

Thank you very much for your help!

















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