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Top 10 services a property management company should offer you

We’ve compiled our very own “Top 10 services” list that any property management company worth its salt should offer you. It’s a long list, so if you’re ready, here we go…

The Benefits of Choosing Property Management from HomeCareontheWebToday we’ve got a treat for you. We’ve compiled our very own “Top 10 services” list that any property management company worth its salt should offer you. It’s a long list, so here we go…

01. Regular inspection visits

At least once but preferably twice a month, a property management company should send a trained inspector to your home to carry out a detailed inspection of both the exterior and interior, checking for any wear and tear in accordance with a written checklist.

It’s a good idea to ask to see a copy of that written checklist so you know how thoroughly they will go though things.

At the very least, the inspector should

  • open all the windows and doors to air your rooms
  • make sure your electrical appliances, plumbing and sanitary facilities are in good working order
  • check under sinks
  • ensure that the furniture, fixtures and fittings are exactly as they should be

And of course, before they leave they should make absolutely sure your property remains fully secure until their next visit.

02. Accurate status reports

Each inspection visit should be followed up with a status report which is easily accessible online, and advises you of any problems detected in your property. Issues such as damp, water leaks, or storm damage should be highlighted with photos if necessary.

Recommended action and quotes should be supplied from trusted qualified local tradespeople, and once approved, repair or maintenance work carried out to a good standard, speedily and without fuss.

03. Interactive online management

In addition to regular feedback about the state of your home, your property management company should provide you with an interactive online tool through which you can oversee the management of your Spanish property yourself from anywhere in the world, 24 hours day.

There should be full account management facilities allowing you to view any invoices, or statements of your account, and the facility for you to make any payments related to the upkeep of your property easily and securely online by credit card.

Similarly any payments due to you from rentals, for instance, should be capable of being electronically transferred directly to your bank account.

A personal holiday bookings calendar is also a must, allowing you to fill in the dates that you or your guests will be staying in your home so your property management company can automatically arrange for it to be properly cleaned, the beds made up and the hot water put on, etc, before you arrive, without you having to worry about it.

The bookings calendar should also ensure that if you rent out your property for holiday lets, you’ll be able to see ‘at a glance’ when your property will be occupied.

04. Housekeeping

Basic housekeeping services are a vital component in the successful management of any property, especially if the property is to be rented out or made available for guests to stay. So ensure the property management company you pick can meet your expectations in that respect.

It’s a good idea to ask to see a list of their housekeeping services and their cleaning checklist so you can satisfy yourself they will be doing things to your liking. Their range of housekeeping services should include:

  • Automatic cleaning and laundry services for holiday visits
  • Specialist cleaning services such as a builders clean after construction work
  • Spring cleaning for linens, fabrics and furnishings
  • Cleaning and refurbishment of curtains, upholstery and rugs
  • Barbecue cleaning
  • Daily cleaning upon request.

05. Maintenance and repairs

If your property management company are keeping your Spanish home in prime condition at all times, it makes it so much easier for you to enjoy your stay when you or your guests visit. After all, the last thing you want to be doing during your valuable leisure time in Spain is unblocking the pool filter, painting the terrace wall, or sorting out a plumbing problem, when you could be out enjoying the sun.

Your property company should have the experience, the in-house resources and access to tried and trusted local specialists to make sure your home is always kept in tip-top condition. You should be able to request a range of maintenance and repair services online such as:

  • Installation and maintenance of air conditioning, alarm systems, and safety equipment
  • General interior and exterior painting and decorating
  • Plumbing and electrical work
  • Interior and exterior tile refurbishment
  • Garden landscaping and maintenance
  • Pool cleaning, repairs and maintenance
  • Property refurbishment and building work
  • Kitchen and bathroom installations
  • Other additional ad hoc services.

06. Interior décor and refurbishments

There are many companies up and down the Costa del Sol offering all sorts of different (and often confusing) home decoration packages, so when it comes to decorating your Spanish home or carrying out refurbishments, it’s difficult to know which of them will do the best job.

Your property management company should be able offer the benefit of their experience and recommend local suppliers who’ll provide you not only with a high quality and more importantly, reliable service but also legally compliant invoices and receipts in case disputes occur.

Your property management company should also be on hand to offer expert advice about how best to decorate and equip your property in readiness for both short-term holiday and long-term lets.

07. Carefree visits to your holiday home

Just picture this – you arrive at the airport late on a stiflingly hot afternoon after a long flight and are met by a chauffeur who drives you to your holiday home in an air-conditioned limousine.

You open your front door to find your home is cool and welcoming, thoroughly cleaned and ready for you to relax and enjoy yourself; the beds are made with fresh linen, the water is on. There’s a welcome pack of sweet smelling flowers and other essentials on the dining room table. The fridge is stocked with chilled drinks and your favourite delicacies. There’s wine in the wine rack and the pool’s clean and ready for your first refreshing dip, plus there’s a gourmet chef arriving later to cook dinner…

A first-class property management company should provide a facility that allows you to request all these services and more before you or your guests arrive on a holiday visit. After all it’s the extra 5-star luxury touches that will make any stay in Spain all the more memorable and enjoyable.

08. Detailed guest manual

And while you’re here on holiday, if you need a babysitter, a housemaid service or a local restaurant recommendation, or if you want to go kite surfing, quad-biking or horse-back riding in the hills, you should be able to benefit from the extensive knowledge of your property management company’s staff to help you find what you’re looking for.

Likewise, when guests or holidaymakers stay in your property, an extensive Guest Manual should be provided giving detailed and, more importantly, impartial advice about recommended restaurants and golf courses, and the best places to visit and things to do in the area for the whole family.

09. Trouble-shooting and key holding

Your property management company’s bi-lingual staff should also be there to resolve any issues you may have with local authorities, property developers, lawyers, communities and other suppliers – things you may not have the time, language skills, nor indeed the inclination to deal with yourself.

What’s more, they should act as your secure key-holder and, upon your request, accompany tradespeople when they require access to your property. In addition, the company should supply keys to your guests upon arrival and have a 24-hour key safe in case of emergencies.

10. Specialist service

Of course, at some stage, as a Spanish property owner, the chances are that you’ll need help and advice over and above that which just concerns the management of your property.

For instance, your electricity or telephone may get cut off if a transfer you’ve made doesn’t hit your bank account in time, or you’d like broadband connected so you can bring your laptop on holiday with you, or you’ve decided to install satellite TV to enjoy programmes from home while you’re away. Whatever extra facilities you need or local utilities problems you encounter, you’ll almost certainly require a property management company with Spanish-speaking staff who have the experience of handling such issues on a regular basis to resolve them swiftly for you.

In addition, you may need legal or financial advice, or help in arranging insurance, or a mortgage or currency transfer. If you want to sell your property or buy another property in Spain, you may need someone to talk to about the best way to go about it. Even guidance about re-locating to Spain or the best place to hire a car can be difficult to find when you don’t know who to turn to.

And finally, any good property management company should be able to provide you with access to reputable and trustworthy local companies, in order to help you with any such advice or guidance you might need.

Meet Tim, heading up our maintenance team

Tim Telcs, HomeCareontheWeb Maintenance man
Tim Telcs, HomeCareontheWeb Maintenance man

Tim Telcs, our hard-working Maintenance Supervisor knows exactly what it takes to keep our Owners’ properties in tip-top condition all year round. We thought you might like to know what he gets up to on a typical working day…

“What’s a typical day for me? There’s no such thing!” laughs Tim. “But that’s one aspect that I love most about my job – the variety.”

With the height of summer just around the corner and a great many of our Owners down on the Coast for their holidays, plus a large number of holiday rental guests staying too, long days are the norm for the team at this time of year, so it’s important Tim gets an early start.

The first issue to tackle is their schedule for the day, and with so many maintenance requests to deal with, this can be quite a tricky balancing act.

“It’s vital that when a maintenance request comes in, especially an emergency, they get a quick response from us,” explains Jackie, who’s in charge of managing the maintenance workload. “Even more so at this time of they year, when owners and guests are trying to relax and enjoy their holidays and quite frankly don’t need any hassle.”

Mostly, it’s a question of prioritising the tasks at hand.

“For example, today we’ve got a blocked drain at an owner’s villa in Benalmadena,” says Jackie, “and a jammed front door lock at a holiday apartment in Sotogrande, and the electricity is constantly tripping at a long-term rental townhouse in Marbella. And those are just the urgent jobs…”

Of course, during a typical day other emergencies crop up, like the flood at an owner’s third floor apartment which happened last week. Tim had to deal with it immediately to avoid major damage both to the owner’s and the surrounding properties. This often means even the most meticulously planned schedule can change in an instant.

Having confirmed the schedule with Jackie, Tim jumps in his van and heads off to tackle his first job of the day. Tim boasts an impressive range of skills, so he’s more than qualified to deal with most things that are thrown his way.

“Really, my job should be called the repairs, installation, emergency, plumbing, electrical, building, home improvement, woodworking, kitchen fitting, tiling, plastering, product testing, fault fixing, problem solving, painting, decorating, paving, damp-proofing, welding and anything else you care to chuck at us department,” jokes Tim. “But that wouldn’t fit on the side of the vans so Maintenance Department will have to do.”

Tim is keen to point out that although much of his tasks involve fixing problems, he’s  also qualified to handle everything from upgrading owners’ kitchens or bathrooms, painting and decorating, and supplying and installing all the fittings such as lights, curtain rails and bathroom accessories on newly finished properties.

“You name it, I’ll provide a quote and do it,” says Tim.

And thanks to the excellent relations he has established over the years with local suppliers, he can be sure of the quality of raw materials he uses on behalf of our clients too.

“I only recommend materials that I’ve thoroughly researched and tested myself, from trusted suppliers. Only once I’m 100% satisfied materials meet my strict quality standards, will I use them.”

Tim’s first stop is an unscheduled one along the way – a call comes in from our office to say an empty owner’s property has just been broken into and burgled.

As we arrive, the police are already there, but the thieves have long since gone, damaging a window frame and taking a widescreen TV with them.

Tim’s immediate task, after dealing with the police and the necessary paperwork, is to secure the property.

“Sadly, security is something all owners on the Coast have to take seriously these days. Lately, we’ve installed everything from protective window and door bars, to bolt locks and secure windows, alarms, security lighting and roller-shutter locks to try and prevent this sort of thing happening.”

In fact, one of the services the maintenance department provides, that owners might not be aware of, is a complete security check to thoroughly assess and advise on an owner’s property’s vulnerability to help prevent break-ins.

“We obviously don’t want owners to get burgled, but we’d also rather not get called out in the middle of the night following a robbery! But, of course, when it happens, we’re there.”

As well as their normal working hours, the maintenance department are also on emergency stand-by 24-hours a day.

Back in the van as the day progresses from job to job, it’s clear Tim really rather enjoys what he does for a living. He talks about it with the kind of enthusiasm most of us normally reserve for a hobby.

He’s currently researching new electrical products, he tells me. In particular, ranges of remote control switches that look like normal switches but can be placed anywhere such as desktops and armchairs without the need for burying cables – especially good for properties with tiled walls.

“Recent advances in LED lighting technology have made them cheaper to buy and run. The quality of light they now produce is on par with traditional or halogen bulbs. Their low consumption and longevity make them extremely environmentally friendly too. One item I particularly like is an LED pool light which can change the colour of the whole pool at the push of a button, with a life expectancy far greater than standard bulbs.”

Fair enough.

The last job of the day, late in the afternoon as the heat finally simmers down, is to install a wall safe on behalf of an owner at their holiday apartment ready for their arrival next week.

Tim feels that fixed safes are essential for all properties these days – an extra security measure which even if you get broken into means your valuables can still be kept secure. He says the maintenance department has fitted many over the last few months.

“We’ve installed both basic fixed safes for people to store important documents, or jewellery, cash and so forth, plus more hi-tech ones like the safe I’m installing now, which is especially designed for laptop computers and even has an integrated power supply so the laptop can be charged while locked away.”

On the way back to the office at the end of a long day, I ask Tim what he will be doing tomorrow.

“I’m doing a post-summer holiday ‘spruce-up’ for an owner with a townhouse in Calahonda. Replacing some damaged tiles out on the patio, repainting the interior walls, waxing the garden furniture… at least, that’s the plan!!”

So, there you go – you now know a little bit more about what it takes to be a HomeCareontheWeb maintenance man!

Hasta mañana, folks!

Is your Costa del Sol property management company trading legally?

These are increasingly tough econmic times here on Spain’s Costa del Sol, and unfortunately there are some unscrupulous organisations and individuals offering property management services that are trying any means possible to keep their heads above water (including, in some cases, those that aren’t operating strictly ‘by the book’). So, what should you do to protect yourself?

property managementNow, it may seem like an obvious thing to point out, but despite the amazing weather, there are unfortunately some unscrupulous organisations and individuals offering property and rentals management services that are trying any means possible to keep their heads above water (including, in some cases, those that aren’t operating strictly ‘by the book’).

On the face of it, organisations and individuals like this might seem to be offering great value for money by charging cheaper rates than the competition, but there’s normally a reason for that – they’re cutting corners somewhere.

That could mean either they’re not providing the level of services they claim they are, or they are operating ‘unofficially’ and avoiding the costs associated with being a legally trading company.

We cannot stress enough how essential it is that any company you use to care for your property on Spain’s Costa del Sol must be trading 100% legally within the Spanish law.

Unofficial outfits and ‘one-man bands’ can be instantly shut down by the local town hall or the tax authorities without warning at any given time.

More importantly, if you are using the services of such an organisation or individual, you may find yourself without a legal leg to stand on, or worse still, be legally liable should any serious problems occur that are related to your property.

So what should you do?

Well, if you’re unsure whether or not you’re at risk by using a property management service that you suspect might not be trading legally, ask to see evidence that they are a properly registered Spanish S.L. (Ltd.) company, with what’s called a C.I.F. registration number which means they will have the capacity to issue you with official invoices which include IVA (Spanish VAT).

Ask them to show you their license to trade in property management.

You should also ask to see evidence that the company has taken out comprehensive public liability insurance, as well as employer’s liability insurance to cover their staff while visiting your property.

You could find yourself facing a lawsuit for damages if any person employed by the management company to do cleaning or maintenance work in your property has an accident and is injured the process.

If the company cannot provide you with readily available evidence of all these pre-requisites, be very wary indeed!

Britons with holiday homes in Spain get significant tax breaks

Alistair Darling may not have wanted to draw too much attention to it, but some positive tax news for owners of holiday homes in Spain was buried away in the small print of his most recent Budget – and we think you’d lshould know about it!

Alistair Darling may not have wanted to draw too much attention to it, but some positive tax news for owners of holiday homes in Spain was buried away in the small print of his most recent Budget – and we think you’d lshould know about it!

The Budget stated that Britons with an unprofitable holiday home in an EU country outside of the UK (such as Spain) are now able to offset losses on their property against their earned income.

Until now, no British Spanish holiday home owners have been able to do this, but HM Revenues and Customs have at last admitted this discrepancy may have been unlawful, and are therefore allowing owners to offset losses going back 5 years.

However, you must act fast, as this tax break will be banned completely by the UK government in April 2010.

Apparently, you’ll be eligible to claim back your losses if you’ve had your property available to rent out for more than 140 days of the year, and have actually achieved 70 days worth of rentals in that year.

Another good thing to bear in mind is that if you use a property management company, all the payments you have ever made to them for their services  should be claimable as legitimate expenses, provided you’ve been issued with legal invoices.

If you feel this situation directly affects you, and would like more information about it, we would urge you to contact your UK accountant or financial advisor as soon as possible.

Good luck and hasta luego!

Why choosing a ‘cheap’ property management company is a bad idea

When considering property management, it’s only natural you might think first about the cheapest way to do it, especially now in these tough economic times. But beware of false economies…

The Benefits of Choosing Property Management from HomeCareontheWebIf you’re thinking about hiring a property and rentals management company on the Costa del Sol, it’s only natural you might think first about the cheapest way to do it.

After all, it’s not hard to find a dizzying number of different organisations and individuals on the coast virtually tripping over themselves to get your business, all claiming unbeatable ‘value for money’.

Similarly, friends or neighbours who live permanently on the coast might also offer to help you out for a small fee.

But beware of false economies!

Think about it carefully; any property management company or individual charging a low fee will almost certainly not have the resources or perhaps the inclination to sustain even the most basic level of services required to maintain your property to the standard you expect.

Likewise, they’re probably not geared up to maximise the rental potential of your property or deal with any real emergency, big or small.

A first-class property management company might charge you more than perhaps you envisaged, but in return they’ll provide you with good levels of service, competent and caring staff, as well as all the financial and legal resources you’ll need to rely on in order to protect you and your investment.

Why do you need property management?

It’s a question a lot of owners ask: Why do I need a property management company to look after my Spanish property? Well, there are many physical and practical reasons why…

property managementIt’s a question a lot of owners ask: Why do I need a property management company to look after my Spanish property?

Well, there are many physical and practical reasons why hiring a property management company to care for your property is a good idea, especially if you’re absent from Spain for most of the year.

Let’s start with the physical reasons.

There’s no doubt the Costa del Sol is blessed most of the year with a mild climate compared to other parts of Europe, but endless days of burning sunshine and the odd furious storm can be just as harsh on a property (if not more so) than even the worst northern European winters.  So your Spanish home will need a lot of tender love and care while you’re away to combat the worst the elements can throw at it.

Similarly, internal problems such as plumbing leaks, pest infestation or damp can occur to even the newest of properties without warning and the worry is that if your property is left empty for most of the year, such problems might go unnoticed for too long.

And let’s face it, the last thing you’ll want when you arrive for a relaxing break in your Spanish home is to find an unwelcome and perhaps costly surprise.

Then of course, there are a myriad of practical concerns to worry about.

In Spain, in order to receive electricity, water, phone, Internet and other utility services, you’ll need to set up a Spanish bank account to pay your bills. But what happens if for any reason your account runs low of funds and your bills go unpaid? Who’ll be there to explain things to the utility companies in Spanish and get your services re-instated?

Unoccupied properties are often singled out as ‘soft targets’ for burglars who’ve been known to clean out a holiday home’s entire contents in the blink of an eye. So who’ll find a local security firm to install an alarm system for you? Who’ll liaise with local police or insurance companies if you do get burgled?

Then of course there’s your role in your residential community. In your absence, who’ll attend community meetings and inform you of any important issues that have arisen or key decisions that have been taken, especially those that might involve extra financial outlay on your behalf?

And what happens if you’d like to invite friends or family to use your property, but feel a little embarrassed that it hasn’t been cleaned since the last time you were there six months ago?

And who’ll be there to meet that delivery of furniture you bought for your holiday home during your last visit?

Of course, friends and neighbours may offer to help out and keep an eye on your property while you’re away, or you may find some other local person who’s prepared to look after it for a fee. Unless anything goes wrong while the property is in their care, this type of arrangement can work. However, it’s Murphy’s Law that problems will occur, and they usually do at the least convenient time.

So the key question you have to ask yourself is this: if it comes to the crunch, who would best be able to care for my property and be equipped to handle any emergency, whatever it may be?

These days, finding a reliable property management company with a good reputation is not only a sensible move, it’s becoming more and more of a necessity. And our advice is to only deal with professionals.

Welcome to the HomeCareontheWeb Team Blog

What makes the leading Property Management company on Spain’s Costa del Sol?

Well, here it is – the first post on our brand new HomeCareontheWeb blog. It’s taken a while to get to the launch pad admittedly, but hey, they say the best things come to those who wait.

The reason we’ve started this blog is simple – we wanted to provide a genuine source of balanced information and a (deep!) well of knowledge for everything related to property care and rentals management here on Spain’s glorious Costa del Sol.

We’re passionate about what we do and having been at the cutting edge of the business for over six years, we’ve pretty much seen and done it all.

So whether you already own a property on the Coast, or are planning to buy one and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to look after it while you’re away, or  are concerned about who you can really trust to rent it out for you and make yourself a bit of extra income, then feel free to benefit from our experience and check the articles we’ll be regularly posting each week on this blog.

They’ll be packed to bursting with essential information for all existing and potential property owners on the Coast. And hopefully, by sharing our knowledge with you, we can help you enjoy your property in Spain to the full.

Hasta mañana (until tomorrow!) folks.

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