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Floods in the Malaga Province

Following the torrential rain in the Malaga province last week, many home owners who may only visit their properties during the summer, are wondering whether their holiday homes have been affected by any flooding, leaks or water damage.

If you are not able to visit the property to check everything over yourself, it’s essential to have someone reliable and trustworthy who can inspect everything for you and report any findings. A leak going undiscovered for weeks or months could potentially cost you hundreds of Euros, especially if any of the electrics have been damaged.

One of the benefits about having a good property maintenance company is that they can worry about all of this for you. Visiting your property in the first instance to check for any leaks, floods and water damage so they can be repaired quickly through reliable tradesmen.

With more heavy rain expected over the coming weeks, it’s a good idea to make sure your drains are not blocked up with leaves and double check that everything is water tight. HomeCareontheWeb can give your property a thorough check, do any necessary cleaning up or maintenance work and provide you with a report if needed.

We will contact any owner direct if we discover your property has been affected by the floods.

If you need property maintenance on the Costa del Sol, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 952 839 595 or visit our website for more details.

Upgrade to digital TV now

Digital Television revolutionAs of 15th December 2009, analogue television signals are not broadcast in Spain. This means that anybody that has a television set that is not equipped for digital (TDT as it is known in Spain) will be unable to receive Spanish channels.

Most televisions sold over the last few years will be able to receive digital broadcasts, but for those that don’t have this feature, there is an easy solution, a set-top box.

The digital revolution brings numerous advantages. Aside from the improved picture and sound quality you also gain a load more channels, including some kid’s and news channels. The really great advantage is that you can change the soundtrack to the original language. That means that if for example you are watching CSI Miami in Spanish, which was originally recorded in English, you can change the language so that you are watching in English.

The set-top box costs 68€ plus IVA, and we will install it for you completely free of charge on one of our inspections.

We will be testing all TV sets during our inspections and will advise if this digital upgrade is required. Please note that Sky and other satellite receivers are unaffected by these changes.

If you’d like to have your Costa del Sol property looked after by experts who really care, please contact us today by emailing info@homecareontheweb.com or visit our website to learn about our fantastic Property Management Services in Spain

Property Management Spain – Case Study

DeniseHere’s a story from Denise Wright, our Client Service Supervisor, on the importance of having someone reliable and well connected to call on when things go wrong in your Spanish property.

“One of our owners cancelled his management contract with us when he found his own tenant, believing that he no longer required our services – which is quite a common misconception as it happens.

That Christmas he received a call from his tenants saying there was rain pouring through the ceiling and the apartment was flooded and they couldn’t do anything about it as they were due at the airport that very moment to go on holiday.

The owner had no idea who could help him. He spoke no Spanish even if he had been able to contact anyone to help, but as it was a national holiday none of the Spanish services were working in any case.

By the time he called our offices he was in a complete panic! Although this was a Spanish holiday we still had a skeleton staff on and our emergency team was also on call. He asked if we would help – we did.

Our team went straight to his property, repaired the problem, mopped up all the water, and then sent the wet linen to be laundered. We monitored the property and when it was properly dried out we sent in our team of cleaners.

All this was done whilst his tenants were away, so they came back from holiday with their rental home looking as if nothing had happened.

Had we not been there for him, the owner was either going to have to fly over to sort it all out for himself, or wait until he could find someone after the holiday to help, by which time there could have been irreparable damage done to his home and furnishings.

As a result of this he renewed his management contract with us – sensible man.”

HomeCareontheWeb provide a complete management service whilst tenants are occupying a rental property to ensure that both the tenants and the owners feel secure that someone is there to care for them and the property. This rental management service includes courtesy visits, a highly effective bi-lingual team available during office hours to help with any issues, and a quick response fully-manned emergency call-out service. Click here for more details

Renting your property out to holidaymakers

With many Costa del Sol property owners now looking at ways to help with the operating costs of their property, holiday and long term rentals are a hot topic at the moment. So, if you want to use your Spanish home during certain times of the year and earn rental income the rest of the time when it’s empty, today’s post is especially for you.

With many Costa del Sol property owners now looking at ways to help with the operating costs of their property, holiday and long term rentals are a hot topic at the moment.

Rent our your Costa del Sol property
Rent our your Costa del Sol property

So, if you want to use your Spanish home during certain times of the year and earn rental income the rest of the time when it’s empty, today’s post is especially for you.

Let’s start with the issue of tax.

Well, as with all sources of income, various tax issues will arise related to the short-term rental of your property in Spain, depending on your circumstances.

So it’s a good idea to speak to a financial adviser to clarify your personal tax situation before you rent your Spanish property out.

If you use a rentals management company they should be able to provide you with regular and detailed rental statements which you can give to your accountant for tax declaration purposes.

Now, another major factor you should bear in mind before renting out your property to holidaymakers is that with the worldwide recession biting hard, the holiday rentals market on the Costa del Sol is not quite as buoyant as it used to be.

The numbers of tourists on the Costa del Sol have been down in recent years and, what’s more, the local market is saturated with good quality apartments to let, making it highly, highly competitive.

That means, unless you’re very lucky, your property probably won’t be booked as often as perhaps you’d like.

The good news is that there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of attracting holidaymakers to rent your home, and more often.

If you really want to do things properly, we recommend you find a professionally-run holiday rental company with experienced bi-lingual staff and the expertise and resources to market your property correctly and help you maximise your potential holiday rental income.

A first-class rentals management company will offer both long-term and holiday rental services, so you have a choice and they’ll help you decide your financial objectives from the outset by advising you about the number of weeks per year you can realistically expect to rent out your property to holidaymakers.

The easiest way to find companies offering comprehensive holiday rental services is to go online and do a search through Google, check around the area closest to your property, or ask friends and neighbours for recommendations.

The holiday rentals company you select should be fully geared up to handle the whole business of renting out your property to holidaymakers – from providing appropriate insurance and comprehensive legal and practical safeguards to protect you, your property and the rental clients, to taking bookings and payments online, then being there for guests 24/7 during their stay, and finally paying your fees directly into your bank account.

Help if you’ve bought off-plan on Spain’s Costa del Sol

After the initial excitement of buying an off-plan property in Spain, the construction of your dream home might not run quite as smoothly as you’d imagined. Buying off-plan in any foreign country can be a stressful experience, especially when dealing with developers and trying to ensure their work meets the specifications you’ve paid for – even more so if you’re based abroad and don’t speak the lingo…

Buying off planThere are plenty who are snapping up incredible bargains by buying property that has yet to be fully completed direct from developers. Now, after the initial excitement of buying an off-plan property in Spain, (and hopefully grabbing yourself a real bargain at the same time), the construction of your dream home might not run quite as smoothly as you’d imagined.

Buying off-plan in any foreign country can be a stressful experience, especially when dealing with developers and trying to ensure their work meets the specifications you’ve paid for – even more so if you’re based abroad and don’t speak the lingo. 

In much the same way that numerous companies and individuals offer property management services up and down the coast, there are also those who offer some form of pre-completion inspection service.

Typically they’ll be the Real Estate agent you bought the property through, or a property management company, and they’ll sell themselves as the people to trust to oversee the building of your dream home without you having to.

However, the level of service they’re able to offer you will vary dramatically, so here’s a piece of advice – it’s worth taking the time to find the right company to do this for you, otherwise buying your dream home could turn into a total nightmare.

Your best bet would be a reliable, professional property management company with a good reputation and conscientious staff that offers a comprehensive pre-completion inspection service.

Ideally, that company should be able to keep you informed of what’s going on with your new build every step of the way via online monthly property and development checks with suites of photos showing the building progress and any building schedule reports from your developer.

And, as construction work draws to an end, they should be able to produce for you and your lawyer a final ‘snagging list’ in English and Spanish, detailing any build imperfections and other issues that have to be dealt with in order to complete your property to specification.

Then, when everything is finished to your satisfaction and it’s time to turn your off-plan property into a holiday home or suitable rental accommodation, your property management company should be able offer you the benefit of their experience and point you in the right direction to find tried and trusted interior designers and furnishing package suppliers to turn your house into a home, as well as upgrade you automatically to a full property management service.

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!

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