Written by Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

If you own a rental property, you are aware of all the benefits that come with managing it. However, while the financial benefits are great, depending on the property, you may feel like you are putting in a lot of time and effort into managing it. Possibly even the time that you don’t really have. This is when most people usually consider having a property manager.

In many cases, you will be able to handle your rental property yourself. If you fancy yourself a handyman, live close to the property and don’t mind devoting some time to it, you’ll do just fine. However, if you are struggling with any aspect of managing it or would like to expand your business, it is time to consider all of the benefits of having a property manager.

The finances

Setting the right price

If you’ve gone about renting your property on your own, the way you probably determined the price was finding out the ballpark amount of other similar properties in your area. However, even though this can serve you well for a time, hiring a property management company will help you professionally determine the best possible pricing for your property. They will bring their expertise to ensure that you are making the most money off your property, while maintaining a low vacancy rate at the same time.

Not bothering with payments

Among the financial benefits of having a property manager is not having to bother with many of the common issues landlords are faced with. One such issue is collecting payments. This is something people often struggle with themselves. Depending on the tenants, it can be difficult to get it done as well as awkward. On the other hand, property managers have their ways of collecting rent and making sure they are on time.

Profitability

Having a property manager will help you become more profitable in this business. As a rule, most property managers charge 6 to 10 percent of the property’s monthly rental for their services. The fact that they are taking care of this side of the business allows you to focus your attention elsewhere. Also, in many cases, the managers’ service fee will be tax-deductible. You’ll end up saving more money than if you were doing the property management yourself.

One of the ways how having a property manager can make your business more profitable is that it doesn’t limit you when it comes to the locations of your properties. While you’re doing things on your own, you will mostly focus on the area in which you live. Having a property manager can help you expand to other locations that might turn out to be more profitable.

The tenants

Finding the right tenants

If you’re only starting your rental business, finding the right tenants might seem very intimidating. To be honest, knowing how to protect yourself against bad tenants is quite a serious business. You need to do a bunch of checks to ensure you can trust these people to rent them your property. If you can, having a property manager do it will save you a lot of time and trouble. They will know what red flags to look for and how to get their credit reports, background checks, employment verifications and references from previous landlords.

Before there are any potential tenants to screen, property managers will also be able to help you with finding the best way and locations to advertise your property. This is something that is key if you want to avoid having your property vacant for long periods of time.

Management

The essential activity a property manager is tasked with is managing the relationship between the tenant and the landlord. They will be expected to handle routine maintenance, as well as any emergency maintenance if the situation occurs. In addition, they will handle routine inspections as well as manage conflicts should they occur. If you are planning to offer furnished rentals, they will also help with the move. It is not outside of their job description to do things like take furniture apart for transportation, for example.

Maintenance

One of the benefits of having a property manager is also the fact that they will have already established relationships with different vendors. You will use these vendors for all of the repairs and maintenance necessary for the proper functioning of your rentals.

Instead of struggling with finding the right plumber, contractor or electrician yourself, a project manager will handle that part for you. Not only that, but they will be able to find you the best work for the best price. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they will oversee all necessary maintenance projects. This way, you will save money and time while ensuring your property remains appealing to potential tenants.

Relationship with tenants

Besides being able to screen potential tenants really well, their relationship with tenants allows you to steer clear of any possible confrontations in most cases. Furthermore, having a property manager makes your rental more attractive to tenants as they know there is someone whose sole job it is to ensure their property is spick and span. It doesn’t matter what issue they come across. They will have someone to talk to about it at all hours of the day.

Is it worth it?

All in all, it seems that the benefits of having a property manager are immense. If you own more than one rental or don’t live close to your rented property, having a property manager would make your life a lot easier. Seeing how well they function may even inspire you to expand your business as a landlord. Your property will be taken care of and your tenants satisfied. All you’ll be required to do is come and pick up the cheque!

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Your obligations

Under the terms of the standard residential tenancy agreement (your lease), you agree:

  • to keep the premises ‘reasonably’ clean
  • to tell the landlord about any damage or disrepair as soon as possible
  • to leave the premises as near as possible to the condition they were in at the start of the tenancy, except for ‘fair wear and tear’
  • not to damage or permit damage to the premises deliberately or negligently – you are responsible for damage by anyone who you have allowed onto the premises
  • not to add or remove any fixtures or do any renovations or alterations to the premises without the landlord’s written consent (unless permitted under the tenancy agreement).

If you do not meet these obligations, the landlord may apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for order/s that you comply with your tenancy agreement, or to end your tenancy or for compensation.

The landlord’s obligations

The landlord agrees:

  • to provide the premises in a ‘reasonably’ clean state and fit for you to live in
  • to provide and maintain the premises in ‘reasonable’ repair – even if the landlord/agent told you about any disrepair at the premises before you moved in
  • to make any repairs referred to in the original condition report.

‘Reasonable’ repair depends on the age of the premises, the amount of rent you pay and the potential life of the premises.

The landlord is not required to fix any damage that you cause. However, if they later want to claim compensation from you for that damage they must try to limit the cost of any repair or replacement. Contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for advice about this.

Urgent repairs

Urgent repairs means any work needed to repair any of the following:

  • a failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
  • a failure or breakdown of any essential service for hot water, cooking, heating, cooling or laundering
  • any fault or damage that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
  • serious damage from a natural disaster.
     

Examples of damage include:

  • a burst water
  • an appliance or fixture (such as a tap) that is not working or broken and is causing a substantial waste of water
  • a blocked or broken toilet
  • a serious roof leak
  • a gas leak
  • a dangerous electrical fault
  • flooding or serious flood damage
  • serious storm or fire damage

Getting urgent repairs done

Tell the landlord/agent – in writing if possible – about what needs fixing. Follow up any conversations with a letter. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you told the landlord/agent.

If there is no electricity or water it may be up to the service provider to fix the problem (if it is outside the boundary of the premises). See also Factsheet 23: Utilities.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do the urgent repairs, you can arrange for them to be done.

If the landlord/agent cannot be contacted or is unwilling to do any urgent repairs, or if they are taking too long to do them, you can arrange for the repairs to be done. Do not pay any more than $1,000 or you may not get your money back – the landlord is only required to pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000. They are obliged to pay within 14 days of your notice.

You must be able to show that:

  • the problem was not your fault
  • you made a ‘reasonable’ attempt to contact the landlord/agent
  • you gave the landlord/agent a ‘reasonable’ chance to do the repairs
  • the repairs were carried out by a repair person named in your tenancy agreement (if possible) or by a licensed or qualified tradesperson.

You must give the landlord/agent written notice about the repairs, costs and copies of receipts. The landlord must pay you for any reasonable costs up to $1,000 within 14 days of your notice.

If the landlord does not pay, apply to the Tribunal within 3 months from the end of that 14 days for an order that they do so.

If you cannot afford to pay for urgent repairs, apply to the Tribunal for an urgent hearing for the repairs to be done. You can also apply for a rent reduction until the repairs are done. See ‘Applying to the Tribunal’ below.

Getting other repairs done

Tell the landlord/agent in writing what work needs to be done and by when – give a clear deadline. Keep a copy of the letter and a record of any conversations as evidence that you told the landlord/agent.

If you deal with an agent, you can also:

  • write details of the problem in the agency’s complaint book
  • contact the licence holder (the principal or manager)
  • contact your landlord directly.

Undertaking repairs yourself

You must have the landlord’s prior consent before undertaking non-urgent repairs or maintenance. Ask the landlord to pay you for any costs. Get their consent and agreement to pay in writing.

If the landlord does not do repairs

  • Keep paying your rent. A ‘rent strike’ is a breach of your tenancy agreement, and the landlord may take steps to end your tenancy.
  • Apply to the Tribunal for order/s – see below.

Applying to the Tribunal

You can apply for one or more of the following orders if you are having difficulties regarding a non-urgent repair (see above for how to deal with an urgent repair):

  1. that the landlord do the repairs you have specified
  2. that the landlord compensate you for losses you suffered because they did not do the repairs
  3. that all or part of the rent is paid to the Tribunal until the repairs are done
  4. that the rent is reduced for the period that the premises are/were in disrepair.

For (a), (b) and (c) you must apply within 3 months of the landlord failing to meet your deadline for repairs. For (d) you must apply before the end of the tenancy.

See Factsheet 11: NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service for help to make an application.

Orders for repairs

You must be able to show that:

  • the premises were not in reasonable repair
  • you told the landlord/agent about the need for the repairs (e.g. you wrote to them) or they ought to have reasonably known about it (e.g. they inspected the premises)
  • the landlord/agent did not make a reasonable effort to have the repairs done.

Compensation

You can apply for an order that the landlord compensate you for ‘economic loss’. For example:

  • You had to spend money on take-away food because the landlord failed to fix the stove.
  • Your belongings were destroyed or damaged because the landlord failed to fix a leaking roof.

You must be able to show that your loss was caused by the landlord’s failure to do the repairs.

You also need to show that you attempted to limit the cost to you of the damage (e.g. reducing water damage to your furniture by moving it from under a leak) otherwise the Tribunal may not order compensation.

The Tribunal can order up to $15,000 compensation.

Rent to be paid to Tribunal

The Tribunal will usually only consider this order when the landlord has not complied with a previous repairs order. You can include it in your application, in case you have to return to the Tribunal later.

Rent reduction

The Tribunal may make an order that the rent is, or was, excessive due to a reduction or withdrawal by the landlord of any goods, services or facilities provided with the premises.

For example: The landlord fails to repair a broken-down hot-water system. Apply for an order that the rent was excessive for the time you were without hot water.

If the Tribunal finds the rent excessive, it will make an excessive rent order. It will specify:

  • the amount that the rent must not exceed
  • the day from which this maximum rent applies – for a period of up to of 12 months.

Source: https://www.tenants.org.au/factsheet-06-repairs-and-maintenance

Written by Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

Unless you are an experienced landlord, evicting tenants might seem like an extreme measure. But, unfortunately, most landlords will have to deal with evictions at least once in their life. So, if you plan on becoming a landlord in the near future and you don’t want to hire property management service, you need to know which are legitimate causes for evicting tenants.

What are legitimate causes for evicting tenants

To fully understand legitimate causes for evicting tenants, we are first going to cover them and then explain how to tackle them properly. Know that just because you have a disagreement with your tenant doesn’t mean that you can ban them from your property. Evicting a tenant is a legal procedure, and you need to tackle it with the necessary care.

A landlord pointing and shouting angrily.
Unfortunately, it is usually not enough to simply tell you tenants to leave, even if you have legitimate causes for evicting tenants.

Rent payment issues

The most common reason for evicting a tenant is because they are not paying rent. The concept of this is pretty straightforward, you don’t pay, you can’t stay. But, there are certain intricacies that you should be aware of. Namely, there is a difference between not paying rent, and being late with rent. In order to differentiate properly between the two, you need to study your lease and ensure that you are adequately covered. Keep in mind that most courts won’t help you out solely for unpaid late fees, which is why you need to carefully outline when late fees become rent issues.

Lease violations

While we are on the subject of a lease, it is important to note that this piece of paper is your strongest line of defense when it comes to protecting yourself from bad tenants. You may think that you know how to judge people and that this will help you avoid bad ones. But, trust us when we tell you that sooner or later a bad tenant is going to fly under the radar. And the best way to evict them is to find an instance where they are violating your lease. Among the more common lease violations are:

  • Having a pet, without prior authorization from the landlord.
  • Housing people for a prolonged amount of time. If your tenants want their friend or paramour to move in, you need to draft another lease for them to sign.
  • Subletting of your apartment to other people. Unfortunately, some tenants want to be crafty and use other people’s apartments as a way to make money.
  • Improper use of the apartment (for commercial or for storage use). This is why you need to outline that your lease is residential if you want your real estate to be solely used for living.
  • Complaints from the neighbors. Most buildings and neighborhoods have commonsense codes that your tenants need to adhere to. If they throw parties at 3 a.m. you can expect to first get complaints, and maybe even fines.

The more items you can add to your list, the better case you will have in court if an issue occurs with your tenant. So, do yourself a favor and hire a competent lawyer to help you out.

A lawyer helping a person make a contract in order for them to have legally legitimate causes for evicting tenants.
Hiring a lawyer to help you draw a decent contract is well worth the money spent.

Sizable property damage

It should be pretty obvious that property damage is a sufficient cause for eviction. But, it is important to keep in mind that most property damage doesn’t occur due to tenants intentionally causing havoc. Tenants are simply careless. Therefore, they might avoid or outright ignore a minor issue regarding your real estate. Unfortunately, most minor issues become quite substantial if left untreated, which is why sizable property damage is surprisingly common. To help battle this, you should inspect your property at least once a month. If there is any damage, you can either ask your tenant to fix it (or do it yourself).

Illegal activity

If you suspect that your tenant is practicing illegal activity in your apartment, you can and should evict them. Illegal activity is one of the more legitimate causes for evicting tenants, as you can get tangled up in something that you never even dreamed of. The moment you suspect that your tenant is practicing something illegal, you should start the eviction process.

How to evict tenants

Depending on why you are evicting your tenants, the actual process of eviction can be a bit tricky. Even though you may have legitimate causes for evicting tenants, you cannot simply lock them out. Know that just like they have legal obligations to you via your lease, you have legal obligations to them. Therefore, you should always do your best to make the eviction process as by-the-book as possible, especially when handling unreasonable renters. In most cases you will go through the following steps:

  • Notify your tenant and terminate your lease (30-day notification is usually required).
  • If the tenant doesn’t leave, notify the local eviction court.
  • Attend the hearing regarding the eviction.
  • Get court permission to evict your tenant.
  • Get in contact with the local authorities.
  • Show up on the eviction day with the representative of your local P.D. and reclaim your real estate.
  • Change the locks.
A scale and a hammer as symbols of court.
You need to be able to convince the court that evicting your tenant is a must.

Final tip

While at times it may seem like a good idea to take matters into your own hands, we strongly advise you to refrain from doing so. Tenants can be quite difficult to deal with, especially when it comes to evictions. Therefore, you really want to avoid getting a couple of friends together and forcing your tenant out. Know that they can sue you afterward and put you in much more trouble than you otherwise would be. Our advice is to always follow the necessary legal procedure when handling any issue as a landlord. This is, by far, the best method of evicting tenants, especially if you want to avoid headaches in the long run. 

Written By Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

Being a landlord is easily one of the most overrated ways in which you can make money. On the surface, it seems that you only need to sit back and collect the rent money. No trouble, no hassle… But, in reality, being a landlord can often be difficult and stressful. So, to give you an idea of what being a landlord is like, we are going to go over the most common issues landlords are faced with today.

Before finding a tenant

The issues landlords have to face start before they even find a tenant. After all, you are the legal owner of the property you wish to rent out. This means that you have to take care of it and deal with certain legal aspects connected with real estate ownership. If you do this in time and you take the necessary steps, the whole process won’t be too difficult, especially if you own low-maintenance property. But, by no stretch of the imagination will you be able to say that being a landlord is easy, even if everything is going according to plan.

Keeping your apartment functional

One of the issues landlords are faced with is taking care of their real estate while not living in it. If you own your own home, you probably already know how difficult it can be to maintain it. Every so often an issue will occur with the plumbing or with electricity. Alongside that, you have to keep your home clean and regularly check it in order to catch issues in their infancy. If you own a house, you’d be smart to familiarize yourself with the gutter cleaning process, as roof issues can be quite costly to deal with. Now, all of this can be difficult enough to do while you are living in your home. So imagine what it is like when you don’t live in it.

A well maintained apartment, showing one of the most common issues landlords are faced with.
You’d be smart to check up on your apartment regularly.

Now, it is true that while your apartment for rent is unoccupied, it will remain in fairly good condition. After all, it is precisely the life routines of people that bring the most issues and dirtiness. But, if something does happen, you will need to have a bit of luck in order to catch it early. So, it is the job of the landlord to regularly check up on their property.

Finding a decent tenant

Another issue that every landlord has to tackle is finding a decent tenant. Now, you might think that most people are decent enough to be trustworthy tenants that are going to treat you and your property with respect. But, once you become a landlord, you will soon learn that this is simply not the case. A tenant that is honest, responsible and punctual is a dream. This is why one of the most important tasks a landlord has to deal with is finding a good tenant.

A landlady shaking hands with a tenant.
One of the biggest issues landlords are faced with is finding a good tenant.

Any experienced landlord has at least one disastrous story where a tenant caused more trouble than they ever thought possible. In fact, it is not uncommon for landlords to end up in court with their tenants due to damages, financial issues, and even assault. So, it is not an overstatement to say that finding a good tenant is one of the most important things a landlord has to do.

Issues landlords are faced with once they find a tenant

So, let’s say that you’ve managed to keep your apartment in proper condition. And that you’ve managed to find a decent tenant. With that, all of your troubles are gone and you can simply enjoy your rent, right? Well, not quite. Being a landlord doesn’t stop once you’ve found a decent tenant. After all, this is still your property, and you need to ensure that it stays in proper condition. Furthermore, you need to build a proper relationship with your tenant so that you are able to both check your apartment and make them feel welcomed to stay there.

Staying organized

One of the more surprising issues landlords are faced with is paperwork. From legal documents concerning your real estate and your current tenants to various bills and payments that your tenants provide. So, the last thing you want is for it to get disorganized. In order to manage this properly, you need to take the following steps:

  • Create a filing system – The only way to keep your paperwork in order is to make a filing system and to stick to it. The more consistent you are, the fewer issues you are going to have.
  • Do not let things pile up – While it is quite easy to simply toss your paperwork on your desk, it is the last thing you want to do.
  • Keep digital copies – Papers can be lost or destroyed. Do yourself a favor and create digital copies of important documents.

Taking care of your tenant

If you do manage to find a trustworthy, responsible tenant, you need to make sure that they are taken care of. First, you want to make sure that your rent is fair. Everyone values their property much more then it is actually worth. So, try to alter your rent so that it fits current real estate trends.

Second, you need to be proactive. This means that you need to show your tenant that you care and that you are willing to help them out. You can even familiarize yourself with what they are going to ask you during the interview, in order to better know the tenant's needs. No one likes an overbearing landlord, but no one likes an absent one. And finally, you want to deal with maintenance issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. By doing so, you will keep your apartment in good shape and you will keep your tenant happy.
Cheaper rent will motivate tenants to stay longer in your apartment. This can be especially useful once you find trustworthy tenants.

Second, you need to be proactive. This means that you need to show your tenant that you care and that you are willing to help them out. You can even familiarize yourself with what they are going to ask you during the interview, in order to better know the tenant’s needs. No one likes an overbearing landlord, but no one likes an absent one. And finally, you want to deal with maintenance issues as quickly and efficiently as possible. By doing so, you will keep your apartment in good shape and you will keep your tenant happy.

Written By Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

Having rent coming in every month is a great way to add some more funds into your monthly budget. In fact, this is such a lucrative situation that some people have made it their mission to acquire as many rental properties as possible which will then be rented to potential tenants. However, if you are going into this situation with unrealistic expectations, you might find yourself disappointed at the end of the day. Especially if you haven’t taken any measures to protect yourself against bad tenants. 

Hey, these things happen. As a landlord, you will most likely have to deal with a bad tenant sooner or later (unless you have crazy amounts of luck). In that situation, you’ll need to come up with good solutions to solve the crisis. But one might ask you this – why look for a remedy for the situation when you can prevent it altogether? Whether you have just bought your first condo that you are thinking about renting or you already have a range of properties, take the aforementioned measures of precaution and you won’t regret it.

Never make verbal deals

This one almost seems too obvious of a mistake for anyone to make. Yet, you would be surprised to know just how many landlords rely on verbal deals – at least in the beginning. For starters, verbal deals never hold up in court. Should you have any problems with your tenants, you will basically be trapped with zero chance of winning.

That’s why you should not only sign a formal contract but also ensure that every tenant gets his/her copy of the agreement. The lease agreement should state clear rules, such as no smoking on the promises, the time frame when the rent is paid and so on. Just make sure the rules are clear to all parties – should they neglect a rule, you always have the protection of a lease working in your favor. 

Make sure your tenants provide sufficient information

You are not exactly offering a job but the person who gets your home for a year (or more) needs to be qualified. You need to ensure that they can afford the rent, for starters, especially if your property is located in a good neighborhood where the rental prices are steep. That’s why it is completely okay to request your tenant to fill out an application form. Only a few of the pieces of information your tenant should provide include: 

  • Social security number
  • Current and last two addresses (in pair with the landlords’ name and contact information)
  •  Sources of income
  • Major expenses
  • Information about the vehicle they own

Check the references your potential tenants gave you

Your potential tenants bothered to provide the pieces of information you requested. Great – now you have to do your part of the job. You need to call up every contact that was listed as a reference! We don’t suggest you rely too much on close personal friends of the potential tenants or even their current landlord. Who knows – the landlord might be eager to get rid of them, forming an unrealistic picture. The best references (or the truest ones, at least) are those that come from past landlords and past/current employers. 

Trust us – the knowledge you gain this way will be priceless. Some landlords find out that tenants aren’t responsible when it comes to paying rent. Others find out they are casual rule-breakers. And then there are those who learn that the easy way to disassemble your furniture is simply to let tenants occupy your house – that’s how extreme of a situation others have found themselves in.

Perform all the necessary checks to protect yourself from bad tenants

That’s right – you can probably guess what this means! This is the right time for a background check where you would look into the existence of a criminal record. Also, you want to perform a credit check and get an insight that will be of great help. Luckily, these days it is very easy to perform background and credit checks, so you shouldn’t have a problem with this. 

It goes without saying that you should let your tenants know you intend on performing these checks. The good news is that you might be able to weed out incompetent tenants this way. If they suddenly lose interest in your property after you disclose your intentions, you can rest assured they have a skeleton in their closet. You will be saved without having to lift a finger.

Be regular when it comes to inspections

One of the best ways to protect yourself from bad tenants is to simply keep a close watch on things. And that’s what regular visits to your property will do! You are legally within your right to perform inspections that will ensure your property is being well-maintained. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can just barge in and perform an inspection on the spot. That’s not how these things work. You need to give your tenants a weeks’ notice prior to conducting an inspection. 

But be careful – we always suggest you play it safe and check the local laws on what’s the legal way of performing an inspection. Better yet – consult with your attorney when forming the property rental agreement in the first place. They will be able to give you the best pieces of advice that will ensure your maximum safety. And that is the end goal here, isn’t it?

One thing is for sure – regular inspections will give you enough time to notice anything going wrong. You won’t have to wait before the problem becomes too big to address it. You can simply nip it in the bud. That will not only help you protect yourself from bad tenants but it will also help you maximize your profit. You won’t have to spend time or money on tenants that will turn out to be bad. If you notice them breaking the rules and not keeping your property in decent shape, you will be able to take the steps needed for them to vacate your premises.

 

Written By Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

Asking many questions to your landlord is not always pleasant, and many people avoid it. The reason is, they want to be a good tenant who likes everything about the property and the lease. However, proper communication between the tenant and the landlord is the key to a successful collaboration. That’s why you need to learn about everything you can and make things better in the house. Here are the top questions to ask landlords when renting a home.

How long is the lease?

If you’re making any long-term plans, the first thing you should ask your potential landlord is about the length of the lease. It’s important to know about the lease plans of your landlord, so you can make your own. Also, be sure to ask about the long-term lease, like a 2 year or longer, if you need it. However, don’t expect a long-term lease at first. Most landlords do shorter contracts at first until they see that they’re satisfied with their tenants. However, if you really want to stay at the place for a longer period of time, make sure you ask about the long lease – it may work.

What’s included in the lease?

Make sure you find out all the details about your rental agreement. Don’t be shy to ask what’s included in the contract and the rental payment. Very often, rental payments include utility bills or some other maintenance. It’s very important to know what are your responsibilities other than paying the monthly rent.

a person signing a rental agreement
It’s important to know the details of your contract, so include this on the list of questions to ask landlords

Can I decorate the apartment?

Landlords have different policies when it comes to decorating the apartment – making holes in the walls, painting the walls, etc. Be sure to ask what’s their policy about it and if you need special permission to make any changes to the apartment.

Apartment maintenance

Apart from the apartment decoration, one of the top questions to ask landlords is about the urgent maintenance of the apartment. Sometimes, if anything happens in the apartment, you don’t need to fix it yourself.

Some landlords have agreements with certain contractors who take care of their property. Also, there’s another option of the property manager taking care of any issues in the building. Either way, be sure to ask your landlord everything about it before you actually need something to be fixed.

Can I have any pets?

Pet policy is one of the top questions to ask landlords when you need to move into a new apartment and want it to be pet-friendly. Depending on the building and the apartment, these can be very different. That’s why if you have a pet or plan to have one, make sure you ask your landlord about the pet policy on their property. This is also good to know about the other tenants in the building, especially if you have any allergies.

a dog in a pet-friendly apartment
One of the important questions to ask landlords is whether the place is pet-friendly.

Can I bring any guests?

One of the top questions to ask landlords is about who can visit you at the apartment and when. This is important for various reasons. You want to know if you can bring somebody for a sleepover, how long they can stay, can they use the building’s parking or any other amenities. Also, rules are good to know if any of your neighbors are having a party or something that can bother you.

Do I have insurance?

Insurance is one of the most important parts of your future stay in the new apartment. What’s essential to know is what’s actually included in the insurance in the tenancy agreement. Very often, it covers only the property, without your possessions. So, this is one of the most important questions to ask landlords and check if you need to take out an additional insurance policy.

Do you plan to sell the apartment and when?

It’s one of those questions to ask landlords that are a bit personal, but you need to ask it anyway. If you plan a long-term stay, you need to know if your landlord plans on selling the property. This will help you make some plans for your stay.

a question mark
Even though some of them seem personal, don’t be afraid to prepare the questions to ask landlords for extra safety.

Relocation

After you’ve found a good neighborhood and a perfect apartment, it’s time to start planning your relocation. Here are some tips for a having a stress-free and safe move into your new home:

  • write everything down – it’s essential to organize your move and write all the tasks down. A moving timeline will help you stay focused and productive so you can finish everything on time.
  • pack your items safely – make sure you have high-quality packing supplies when you start packing for the move. This will keep your items safe during transport.
  • hire moving professionals – skilled movers can help you have a safe relocation anywhere in the world. They will ensure a fast and stress-free move without you feeling tired and overwhelmed after it.
  • have a cleaning session – when moving into a new apartment, you want to make both your old place and your new one spotlessly clean. If you can’t make it on your own, arrange for professional cleaners to help you out.
  • update your address on time – don’t wait long until you update your address for the mail, subscriptions, and deliveries. It’s good to do it in advance, so you can start receiving all the mail to your new address.

Conclusion

Moving into a new apartment is not always easy and stress-free. That’s why you need to do whatever you can to make things as smooth as possible. After you get the answers for the top questions to ask landlords, you will know all the details about your move and be ready if anything unexpected happens.

 

Written By Sally Norton for Vogue Real Estate Australia

When it comes to becoming a homeowner, almost every buyer is extremely cautious and wary of many loopholes. That’s why it’s so surprising that people aren’t treating tenancy with the same caution. It might sound to you like signing a property rental agreement isn’t as legally binding as becoming a property owner for the first time – and you would be right to some extent. But that still doesn’t mean you should not dot your i’s and cross your t’s before putting your signature on a piece of paper. After all, legal documents are well-known for their ambiguity and fine print which usually holds crucial pieces of information.

Checking important things and pieces of information before signing the deal is important in all cases and circumstances – but it’s of special importance if moving from another country and trying to find a humble abode in a different state. Then you might take it for granted that the same rules apply in the new country as they do in the old one, creating confusion right after moving. Luckily, all you have to do is pay attention to the following items and you will be all settled into your new place soon enough.

Check the deposit terms and conditions

It’s no secret or surprise that almost all property owners will require a deposit to be paid before moving in. In most cases, the deposit is equivalent to 4 weeks’ worth of deposit bond and 2 weeks’ worth of rent and can be used by the landlord in case you cause any damages to the property or leave the premises without cleaning up. A deposit bond acts as a substitute for cash, making it very useful when you don’t have money at hand.

However, the deposit is there as sort of a safety net – not a gift your landlord receives. In case you hold up your end of the deal, the landlord is obliged to give you your deposit back.

a pink piggy bank

When it comes to your duties and obligations in relation to the deposit, this is where it gets tricky. You need to ensure that the property rental agreement covers all the reasons that allow your landlord to withhold the deposit or a part of it. As of late, landlords are required to secure their tenants’ deposits in government-backed deposit schemes. For your protection, make sure that these terms and conditions are met. That will make it safe for you to vacate the rental property down the line without having to lose the deposit.

Check who is responsible for paying the bills when signing the property rental agreement

Obviously, you will be the one that will have to foot the bill for the property for the time that you are occupying it. However, sometimes, the price of the bills will already be calculated and included in the rental price. In other situations, you will be responsible for paying all the utilities you are using and even setting them up. Finally, you could stumble upon a combination of both. So in order to prevent any confusion, check to see who exactly is responsible for paying the bills, and when.

Also bear in mind that you might be obliged to set up some extra commodities. If that’s the case, never forget that you will also be the one responsible for canceling them before closing the deal with movers and vacating the property. Being a tenant is never easy as there are simply too many scenarios to worry about.

Get to the bottom of the maintenance issue

No matter how well you take care of the property, things are bound to get broken sooner or later. And for a lot of tenants, problems begin when things stop working. To prevent those problems from affecting your life, all you have to do is get it in writing whose responsibility the repairs and maintenance are. Naturally, it should be your landlord’s obligation to pay for repairs and to get them resolved quickly on top of that. However, we will leave that up to you to clear up.

a man working with tools

But before putting your signature on the dotted line, make sure you include all the repairs your landlord is responsible for. Pay special importance to structural damage that would impair your safety and the water heater which breaks down frequently.

Your responsibilities also play an important role

In order for a landlord-tenant relationship to be successful, both parties need to know what their end of the deal is. In other words, both the responsibilities and rights need to be clearly stated. But these rules aren’t an individual thing as much as they are already stated by law. In essence, the tenant is responsible for: 

  • Taking good care of the property and everything on/in it
  • Paying the rent and bills on time
  • Repairing or paying for the damage which was caused due to your negligence

The only way to do right is by knowing what is expected of you. So don’t make a mistake due to being misinformed and check your rights and responsibilities before signing the property rental agreement.

The do’s and don’ts of living on the property 

As a tenant, you are only renting the property. That means that it’s in someone else’s possession. That being said, the landlord has every right to set his/her own rules of what is permitted and what is not. As a tenant, it is your duty to abide by them. For that reason, you have to ensure that no rule is too much for you.

a puppy laying on a pillow

For example, what would happen if you had a pet but your landlord had a strict no-pets policy? Or if you were a smoker but your landlord won’t allow smoking on his property? So as not to get yourself in a sticky situation, it is strongly advisable to check the ‘smaller agreements.’ Of course, they will ultimately turn out to be of huge importance. And that’s why they need to be included in the property rental agreement. It will spare you a lot of trouble and it will only take a few minutes out of your day. So be careful and have an honest conversation with your landlord before signing anything.

 

 

Key changes include:

  • landlords must ensure that their rental property meets 7 minimum standards to be ‘fit for habitation’
  • new and improved disclosure obligations on landlords and agents as well as new remedies for tenants when these obligations aren’t met
  • landlords must ensure that smoke alarms are in working order
  • making it easier for tenants to install fixtures or make alterations, additions or renovations that are minor
  • mandatory set fees when a tenant breaks their lease will apply to all new fixed-term leases that are 3 years or less
  • limiting rent increases to once every 12 months for periodic (continuing) leases
  • new powers for Fair Trading to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. This includes powers to investigate and issue rectification orders to require landlords to carry out repairs and maintenance, or tenants to fix damage.

If you decide to invest your hard-earned money into a property, realistically speaking – you’re probably making a good long-term investment. However, if you definitely want your property to bring you the highest possible returns with minimal fuss, you’ll need to choose a property manager that can do the job right. And sure, you could always manage the property on your own – but this would take away a lot of your time that could be better spent elsewhere. Plus, if you’re not a professional property manager, there are bound to be many things that a true pro could do better. With that in mind – here are a couple of tips for choosing the best person for the job!

Think Local

So, you want to choose a property manager who will be able to make your property more valuable by making the maintenance of the property as efficient as possible. That’s a worthy goal to aspire to, but keep this in mind – the most important aspect of the property manager’s job will be to manage the rental aspect of the property.

A suburban home at sundown.
Find someone who knows your neighbourhood well, in terms of real estate!

And considering that you definitely don’t want to pick someone who doesn’t have the required local knowledge. You want someone who will be adept at attracting the right kind of tenants – and someone who knows how to set the rent just perfectly. That’s why we recommend finding a property manager who’s a local and has all the right connections; coupled with extensive knowledge of the local market.

Doing Research

But now that you know you want to choose a property manager who knows his way around the town; how do you find one? Luckily for you, this is the Digital Age! Meaning that anyone with a couple of hours to spare and a proper Internet connection can find more than enough info regarding property management services in their own city or town. While doing this, make sure to gather different opinions from as many online reviews as possible. After all, when it comes to professional property managers, you’ll want to hear what experiences the rest of the investors have had with them.

Word Of Mouth

Certainly, learning from other people’s experiences is important while embarking on the quest to choose a property manager worth their salt. But while taking advantage of the Internet is important; there’s also something to be said for word of mouth.

Two men shaking hands in front of a suburban home.
Even today, word of mouth is essential to finding good property management services!

At the end of the day, you really won’t need any reference more reliable than those you’ve heard in direct conversation. It’s definitely a trustworthy form of feedback, as you can immediately tell if a person is looking at the situation subjectively or not; independent of any paid advertising that you may be running into online. This way, you’ll truly find someone who will be able to handle everything from repairs and maintenance to tenant management.

Asking The Right Questions

Speaking of advertising; watch out for companies that sound much better on paper than they really are. These days, you’ll find companies who’ve made a big one-time investment into a snazzy website; but are not true professionals in reality. That’s why you want to ask your potential property manager as many questions as you can, in order to ascertain whether they’re up for the job. Don’t worry, we’ll give you a rundown of some of the things you should ask below.

Consider The Cost

Naturally, any kind of additional expense you plan to add to your investment should come only after heavy scrutiny. You don’t want to be spending your money left and right, after all. And that’s definitely true when you’re about to choose a property manager as well. That’s just one of the ways you’re going to invest in your property to make it more valuable in the long-term. Still, make sure you consider all of the expenses thoroughly.

What To Ask A Property Manager

So, what are some of the above-mentioned questions that you’ll use to see if your candidates are up to snuff? Here’s a couple of things you should know while you are trying to choose a property manager. First of all, you want to know about their qualifications. After all, you need to be certain of the experience your property manager brings to the table; there’s a difference between a manager who has a certification of registration and one who is a licensed manager.

An open door with a key in the lock.
Ask all the right questions to be secure in your selection of a property manager!

Secondly, ask them how many properties they manage. This is important, as it will give you an idea of how big a property management agency is; which in turn tells you about their service levels and experience. Though, on the other hand, think about whether a huge agency will give your property the individual attention it needs.

Thirdly, talk about how big their commitment to best practice is. See if you can get them to provide you with an overview of their business model; that way you’ll know just how good they are at running things. Also, ask them how they differ from other competing agencies in terms of services. You want to know what kind of edge this property management agency provides.

Most importantly, though – you’ll need to learn about their tenant management strategies. Firstly, just how do they attract potential tenants? What kind of marketing strategies will this agency employ? And once they’ve got a couple of candidates for the property, what is their selection process like? After that, you’ll want to hear how they work on keeping a good tenant once they’re in the property.

If you have made up your mind on buying a new house, you need to have all the information for making the right decision – which means, you need to ask loads of questions before signing an agreement. As you browse through several property options to find the perfect house, knowing what you need to ask your real estate agent can make the entire process hassle-free and also save you a lot of time. By doing this, you can actually have proper clarity on the value of the property, identify the potential risks with the property and make the right offer to the seller.

Here are top 6 questions to ask your real estate agent in Glenhaven which can reveal all the information that you need to know before buying your new house.

Why are they Selling the House?

The first thing you need to ask your real estate agent is the reason behind the sale. Getting this priceless information will not only help you understand the selling time frame but also assist you in negotiating the price. The answer to this question will help you understand how eager they are to sell the property. For example, if the seller is moving abroad for work, he/she will be more eager to sell the property faster than someone who wants to move into a bigger house. By knowing the urgency, you could even negotiate a lower price.

For How Many Weeks or Months the Property Has Been on the Market?

If you have your eyes set on a property, it is wise that you should know for how long it has been on the market. According to market trends and surveys, if a property has been on the market for more than six weeks, you can assume that either there is something wrong with it or it has been overpriced. If we go by the current real estate market in Australia, a correctly priced property should have a purchase closing within six weeks. Ask your real estate agent in Glenhaven whether the property was a part of an auction and failed to sell. You need to find out why did it fail and the other details about the auction.

Can You Give Me a List of Comparable Sales?

By obtaining a list of comparable sales, you can understand whether the asking price has logical validity or is it totally unrealistic. This will help you make the right offer for the property or tell you whether you should move on. You need to ask your agent for all the information about the local market. For example, you need to know the time of the year when the maximum number of properties were sold, the total number of houses sold last year and the price that they were sold for.

What Is the Original Asking Price for The Property?

This is one of the most important questions that you should ask your real estate agent in Glenhaven. You need to find out the original asking price that was offered previously. To get proper clarity on the previous price range, you need to ask the following questions:

  • How many offers were made so far and what were the asking prices?
  • How many offers did the house seller put down?
  • If some offers made the cut, why the deals did not go through?

By getting answers to these questions, you can form an idea of how much the seller is expecting, why the previous offers failed and how much the previous interested buyers thought the actual value of the property was.

Will the Sellers Negotiate on the Price?

If you have made up your mind on buying a house, then don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent in Glenhaven whether the seller is ready to negotiate on the price. According to current market trends, houses in Australia sell up 10% less than their asking price. However, this depends on several factors including the market condition, location and for how long the property has been on the market. This is why you need to do a proper research into the value of the property.

How is the Locality?

When you are buying a house, you also need to keep in mind the ‘return on investment’ factor. This is why you need to have closer look at the demographics of the locality. Is the area made up of families or single parents? Young working professionals or senior citizens? To garner the maximum return on investment you need buy a house that suits the demographics of the locality.

Buying a house is one of the biggest investments that you will make in life and so don’t just settle on the first property that you think is suitable for you. Property investment should not be guided by emotions but with logic and market data. In a bid to make the right decision, you need to convey your concerns to the real estate agent. At Vogue Real Estate, our agents have decades of experience and extensive knowledge about the market. With real-time market data and extensive surveys, we offer full assistance so that you make the right choice. No matter what your needs are, we can help you buy the right property at the right price.