Getting Your Investment Property Rental Market Ready
So you’ve taken the leap and you’re packing up the family home and moving on to the next chapter. You’ve signed the Form 6 Appointment of Agent with your chosen Property Manager, who is going to look after your pride and joy while you take off on your new adventure, but now what? Here are 10 key things every investor needs to have on their checklist:
1. Tidy up the garden
One of the biggest things people forget when they convert their family home into an investment property is that not everyone is going to look after the lawn and gardens the way that you do. The best thing you can do if you are wanting to maintain that prize winning look is to engage a gardener that knows your property and knows your expectations well. You can then build this cost into the advertised rent and showcase this as a value add for prospective tenants. If you don’t want to engage a gardener, prune everything back as best you can, remove any trees and shrubs that you’re only just managing to keep alive and maintain the lawns until you secure a tenancy. It’s also a good idea to throw in a quarterly garden tidy if you have palms, tall trees, trees that provide a canopy and branch out quickly or privacy hedging just to ensure that everything is ship shape. Keep in mind that this is a tax deduction for you so it can only add value and peace of mind!
2. Wash external faces
If the paintwork on your property is in relatively sound condition and isn’t going to strip off with a light pressure spray, give the whole place, including your carport, shed and any other external structures a hose down to remove those years of build-up. Not only will this brighten up the property for advertising photos and showings to prospective tenants, this will help you to identify any areas that may require maintenance or a touch up be it a lick of paint or a little more of an intensive repair. In any case, you can hand the property over knowing that everything is neat and tidy and in good condition.
3. Make your property water compliant
One thing many investors forget to do is to make their property water compliant. The first thing to check is that the property is individually metered. This means that you receive a single bill each quarter for your property alone and it is not a percentage split with any other property. Once you have confirmed this, you will need to get a plumber to check and certify your property and you can then pass along all consumption charges to your tenants. You will still be responsible for your sewerage and access charges.
4. Get your electrics serviced
If you have split or ducted air conditioning, high end appliances such as integrated coffee machines or steam ovens as well as the everyday items such as the dishwasher, dryer or garage door, try to ensure everything is serviced before you leave so that you know that it is in good working order and if anything isn’t working properly, you are aware of it now and so is your Property Manager! This can be disclosed to any prospective tenants as being repaired or to be taken as is from the get go which will result in a smoother and more open relationship between all parties thus making for a smoother tenancy. It will also give you a baseline if something were to fall into disrepair or become damaged during the course of the tenancy.
5. Provide your Property Manager with all current warranties
Maintenance is one of the foremost causes of disputes and the souring of relationships between Property Managers and tenants. Ensure that your Property Manager has a copy of all current warranties for anything within the property that still remains within the coverage period so that if anything does require maintenance, it can be actioned correctly and in a reasonably timeframe. It’s also a good idea to provide your Property Manager with a maintenance spend limit that is congruent to the calibre of your property that you are comfortable with financially to allow them to action any maintenance at their own discretion up to this amount should they not be able to reach you for authorisation quickly. This means that the Property Manager can get the job done, your tenant is happy and you’re still kept in the loop without needing to be too concerned.
6. Pool maintenance
This one doesn’t apply to everyone but if you have a pool or spa and it forms part of the tenancy, ensure you have a maintenance plan in place. Have a regular pool maintenance service put in place that you pay for so that you know that your pool will remain in peak condition. Again, this is a tax deduction for you so why not! You could pass the costs of the chemicals for the pool along to your tenants and also ensure to arrange a handover at the first service once the property is tenanted so that your tenants are aware of how to care for the pool or spa and are working harmoniously with your service provider. By having an established service schedule, a handover with the tenants and having the tenants responsibly for basic maintenance and chemicals, you should see your pool remain in great shape for years to come.
You know that old saying - hindsight is a wonderful thing? Don’t let hindsight be the reminder you need to get landlord insurance. This will generally protect you from a range of things that could occur from loss of rental income, damage to your property – malicious and accidental, absconding tenants and failure to give vacant possession just to name a few. It’s essential that you do your research into which provider will cover you the best for the property and situation that you have. Your Property Manager is the best first call when you begin your research and sometimes you are better placed spending that little bit extra and getting your insurance through a dedicated landlord insurer such as EBM or Terri Scheer rather than a bank or other third party institution.
8. Change investment property related bills to go to your Property Manager
While you may hesitate at letting go of paying your bills so that you can keep on top of all the property expenses, letting your Property Manager handle it will actually save you time and money in the long run. By ensuring that your Property Manager receives your bills first, they can check that there are enough funds for payment and if not, can get in touch with you to top it up in extreme situations. This will help to avoid late fees and arrears with creditors should your bills not get to you or if you are hard to reach. It also makes it much easier at tax time to have all of your expenses showing on the end of financial year statements.
9. Be clear with your instructions or expectations to your Property Manager
If you have certain instructions or expectations, ensure to convey them to your Property Manager from the get go. This will not only set the tone for the relationship but will ensure that your property is in the best of hands because your Property Manager can only meet your expectations and exceed them if they’re known! While circumstances may change your instructions from time to time, an open dialogue will alleviate any stresses and many property investment a pleasant experience.
10. Have the property bond cleaned and pest controlled
Finally, when you are actually packed and on your way, have the property bond cleaned and pest controlled, especially if you have had pets with you. This will set the standard for your Property Manager to present the property to incoming tenants so that the same standard can be expected when they vacate. While you cannot enforce that they have a paid clean completed as you have done, the standard set by bond cleaners from your clean will have most tenants not wanting to bother wasting their time trying to match it nor the fuss of being called back and will often engage a professional cleaner. There are of course exceptions to the rule however if you set the standard at the beginning, it will leave your Property Manager in a great position to have any issues rectified before the next tenants move in.
Being a property investor can be a rewarding experience provided you put in the hard yards during the preparation stage. While this list isn't exhaustive, it's a good start for anyone ready to make the move.