Property maintenance businesses handle repairs and maintenance work for all types of property owners and institutions, including residential and commercial landlords, letting agents, housing associations, local authorities, schools, and colleges. Typically, services are provided under contract, for example as part of a daily or weekly maintenance service, or on an ad-hoc basis in response to an unexpected call-out or an emergency.
While some property maintenance companies perform work for private property owners, this profile focuses on the issues facing those who perform primarily for commercial property owners.
This profile provides information about starting up and operating a commercial property maintenance service. It describes skills required and training available. It goes on to explain legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.
While legally no qualifications are required to start up and run a commercial property maintenance service generally the business operator will be a qualified tradesperson with experience in the construction and property maintenance sector. The ability to manage projects, provide consulting services, as well as experience writing tender proposals and reports, together with up-to-date knowledge of the qualifications and training for skilled tradespeople, will also be useful.
Training and Courses
Suitable courses for anyone setting up and running a property maintenance service include:
- A virtual day course in Managing Contractors, which is provided by Make UK the manufacturers’ organisation. The course covers various topics, including legal issues, health and safety responsibilities, planning work to be carried out by contractors and monitoring results. The course costs £205 (excluding VAT) for Make UK members and £240 (excluding VAT) for non-members More information see https://www.makeuk.org/training/all-training-courses/managing-contractors
- The level 2 Certificate in COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Risk Assessment, which is run by the British Safety Council and can be studied online. The course covers understanding the importance of a COSHH risk assessment, the main types of hazardous substances, how they may cause harm and the principles of controlling the risks they cause. The online course costs around £93.10 (excluding VAT). for more information see www.britsafe.org/products/level-2-award-in-coshh-risk-assessment
- The online Health and Safety Training for Managers (previously Level 3 Health and Safety in the Workplace) course, which is run by High Speed Training and accredited and approved by the CPD Certification Service and RoSPA. The course costs £150 (excluding VAT), requires around 10 hours’ study and covers a variety of topics, including legislation, types of accident in the workplace, accident reporting, vehicles, electricity, working at height, hazardous substances, noise, fire and explosion, manual handling, stress and the role of supervisors and managers. See https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/health-and-safety/online-level-3-health-and-safety-training.aspx for more details.
Industry awareness and product knowledge
Property maintenance operators and staff can keep up to date with sector news and developments as well as improve their awareness of trends by attending events and reading trade journals and industry resources, including:
- ‘Local Authority Building and Maintenance’ (https://labmonline.co.uk), which is aimed at local authority housing professionals, but may also be relevant for property maintenance services.
- ‘Housing Management and Maintenance’ (www.housingmmonline.co.uk), which includes news and information about the construction, management and maintenance of property, along with a directory of companies that work in the sector.
- ‘Construction News’ (www.constructionnews.co.uk), which is a weekly journal for the building and construction industry that provides news and information, special features for small construction businesses and details of contracting opportunities.
- The Homebuilding & Renovating Show (www.homebuildingshow.co.uk), which is a four-day event held at the NEC, Birmingham each March and a three-day event held at ExCeL, London each September and at the Harrogate Convention Centre, North Yorkshire each November. Two-day versions of the show are also held at various locations across the UK, including Glasgow and Sandown Park in Surrey, during the year. The event provides opportunities to attend seminars and talks by industry experts.
- Online forums, for example www.contractortalk.com, which provide opportunities to share best practice and discuss issues with other tradespeople and industry professionals.
In this section, you can find a quick summary of legislation that property maintenance services must comply with. There is quite a lot of legislation that must be complied with in this profession. Therefore, we feel it’s better to have a summary as you begin rather than having to change practices after you’ve begun trading. Professional advice about the impact of legislation should always be taken before making any business decisions.
- Property maintenance service operators must ensure that all work on properties is carried out in compliance with the Building Regulations 2010 (as amended), which apply in England and Wales. Separate but similar legislation applies in Scotland and Northern Ireland under the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004 and the Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012.
Workplace health and safety
- To comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, property maintenance service operators and their employees who need to remove asbestos in the course of their work must receive appropriate training, as well as wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Under the Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) 1986 (as amended) and the Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012, property maintenance companies must ensure that any pesticides (also known as ‘plant protection products’) used in their work are used sustainably and are handled, stored and disposed of safely.
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and similar laws in Northern Ireland require property maintenance service providers to take measures to protect themselves and their employees, sub-contractors and customers against potentially harmful effects of exposure to paint fumes, thinner dust, or wood dust from sanding wood or MDF.
- Property maintenance services are required by the Electrical at Work Regulations 1989 and the equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland to regularly inspect and test the safety of portable electrical appliances (such as power drills and electric screwdrivers) by, for example, doing visual checks and performing PATs (Portable Appliance Testing).
- The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 place a general duty of care on the operators of property maintenance services to protect the health and safety of their employees, suppliers, sub-contractors, customers and anyone else who may be affected by their business activities.
- In order to comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, all employers, including self-employed people, must conduct a risk assessment of their work activities and workplace, including at each location where they perform property maintenance. This must include a specific Covid-19 risk assessment. Employees must be provided with adequate health and safety training.
- According to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, property maintenance service operators are required to assess the risk of injury to themselves and their employees (for example, when lifting heavy masonry drills or tool boxes), avoid unnecessary lifting, and work to reduce the risk of injury where lifting is unavoidable, for example, by using safe manual handling techniques.
- Workers performing property maintenance services must comply with the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE) and legislation equivalent in Northern Ireland regarding the use of protective clothing and equipment, including overalls, gloves, ear defenders, electrical safety footwear, goggles, and dust masks.
- Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, operators of property maintenance services must ensure that all equipment used in their business is properly maintained and that employees are trained to use it safely.
- Under the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, workers who use ladders or raised platforms, or operators of property maintenance services who supervise this activity, must ensure that such equipment is properly maintained and assess the risks involved in using it. The regulations also require that workers should be competent or supervised by competent people and prescribe the precautions to be taken to avoid risk from working at height.
- The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008 make it an offence for property maintenance service operators to provide misleading information about their qualifications or experience. Or to make unfair comparisons between their own services and those of other tradespeople, builders or contractors providing similar property maintenance services.
- The Provision of Services Regulations 2009 place obligations on maintenance services in relation to the information they supply to their clients.
- Under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, it is an implied term of business-to-business contracts that the work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and for a reasonable charge, if this has not already been agreed in advance. Materials supplied as part of the service, such as paint, plaster, or plumbing fittings, must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. Some provisions of the Act have been introduced in Scotland through the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994.
Environmental and waste
- Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, property maintenance service operators have a duty of care to ensure that any trade waste they produce is properly and safely disposed of by a registered waste carrier.
- Under the Water Industry Act 1991, which applies in England and Wales, the Sewerage (Scotland) Act 1968 and the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, waste liquid produced by property maintenance services (such as water used to clean paintbrushes) may be classed as ‘trade effluent’ and formal consent may be required to dispose of it down the drains into the sewers.
Whether you are taking the plunge as a new property maintenance business or whether you are expanding Duport can help with Company registration starting from as little as £9.99.
This includes legal documents and access to our expert advisors, who are here to help you at every stage. You will also receive a comprehensive report detailing how to start a Property maintenance business in the UK. This includes, market issues and trends, trading, commercial and legal insights.