Renters now make up almost a third of Australian residents. This means a well managed investment property can be the key to a secure and comfortable future. The formula to success is pretty straightforward – buy a desirable property which will provide a solid rental return, enlist a hardworking, knowledgeable agent and find excellent, long-term tenants.
The best tenants are a landlords version of property gold. They will pay on time, care and maintain your property and cause very little fuss. Unfortunately, these types of tenants are hard to come by, which means attracting them should be a priority.
Preparing your property for lease is not merely to get the highest rental yield. Tenants have legal rights, and compliance to state laws is a requirement for landlords. This means that the home must meet and be maintained to, an acceptable standard; to avoid penalties from the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.
No matter which end of the market you are appealing to, the best chance of a good rental yield and happy tenant, is a well-maintained property. Tenants have a right to expect all appliances, plumbing and electricals to be safe and in good working order.
Prior to placing the home on the rental market, call in a reliable, experienced all-round plumber and have them perform checks, service and repairs to:
- Leaking taps
- Hot water service
- Pipe blockages
- Source and attend to damp caused by hidden leaks
- Blocked gutters
- Gas appliances. Carbon monoxide is tasteless and odourless yet lethal. It is imperative that a professional servicing ensures there are no gas leaks.
To ensure the safety of tenants, government guidelines outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act, cover a wide range of safety rules, including but not limited to:
Landlords have a responsibility to ensure hard-wired smoke alarms are fitted and working with a back-up battery. These must also be regularly tested and replaced every ten years. Organising testing should be part of your rental agent’s scope of services.
Pools and spas
If your property has a pool or spa, the law requires self-closing and self-latching devices be installed. Fences and boundaries should be in good repair and unable to be climbed. Further safety guidelines for pools and spas can be found by reading recommendations given by the Victorian Building Authority.
As mentioned earlier, it is the landlord, agents or owners responsibility to maintain all gas appliances and service them as necessary, to ensure there are no leaks. Carbon monoxide poisoning poses a hard to detect, yet life-threatening risk to tenants, and qualifies as an urgent repair. According to the Residential Tenancy Act, tenants are entitled to get emergency work like gas leaks, repaired up to a cost of $1,800 and then recoup the cost from the landlord.
In the 1990s, the then Police Commissioner of New York, William Bratton, implemented a plan based on ‘the broken window’ theory. This used the hypothesis that major crime was more likely to occur in poorly maintained neighbourhoods, where petty crime was ignored. Putting in tighter law enforcement around minor misdemeanors saw a dramatic decrease in the rate of major crimes.
Using this same premise, fixing minor faults such as broken door knobs, overgrown garden beds, cracked glass or loose tiles, shows the tenants that the property is cared for and thus, worthy of respect.
Paint is an affordable way to transform a home, externally and internally. Use a single, neutral colour throughout. If intending to change the carpets, paint before laying replacement carpet. Carpets should also be a muted, neutral tone such as grey, and made from hard wearing nylon, which is cheaper to replace.
Unless dealing with the higher end of the market, avoid highly-polished floorboards, which are susceptible to scratching from furniture and require regular refinishing. Tiles are long lasting and comparable to carpet in price. Unfortunately, they are cold underfoot and expensive to replace once installed.
Ensuring a property is ready to be tenanted, can involve quite a checklist. Many of the major servicing and repair jobs including gas, water and sewage, require a licensed plumber. An invaluable asset to a landlord is a professional, affordable plumber who is available for emergency call-outs. Once you’ve found one, pass their number to the tenants and managing agent. It will be comforting to know they will be using a familiar and trusted business!
By preparing your property well prior to advertising it for lease, you will position yourself to get the best tenant, highest yield and have a long-term, stress-free tenancy.