How to look after your property and respect your tenant’s privacy.
You've spent a lot of effort in choosing the best suburb to buy your investment property. The next piece of the puzzle is finding, and then retaining good tenants in your investment property, and it's not as easy as it sounds.
If you’re managing the property yourself, it can sometimes feel like a part time job. And you’re busy enough with your actual job and the house you live in.
This advice is designed for you, to help you keep an eye on your property and respect your tenants.
As a side note, with great tenants or not, don’t assume anything. Even if you have a wonderful, respectful family living in your investment home, accidents happen. Make sure you’ve got a tailored landlord insurance policy that covers you for both intentional and accidental damage, public liability, and loss of rental income. The typical cost is just under $300 per year, and tax deductible.
Inspections & property visits.
First of all, it's important to understand that you have agreed to allow the tenant live in your property, they are a paying customer. Think in terms of how you feel when you stay at a hotel, you are paying a fee and expect a standard of service and privacy.
If you’re preparing for the quarterly inspection, give thought to how you can balance protecting your property and your tenant’s privacy, especially when taking photos. According to Consumer and Business Services, landlords (plus agents and property managers) are able to enter a rented property for routine inspections and to show it to prospective tenants and buyers.
But, as a landlord, you have limited access. You usually need to provide a written notice to enter the premises and if you breach this, it could result in a fine. So, make sure you give your tenant plenty of notice when you plan to visit the property, and visit between the hours of 8.00am – 8.00pm (any day besides Sunday or public holidays).
It’s best to communicate the reasons why you’d like to access the property to respect your tenant’s personal space.
Here are a few of the situations where you might need to visit your investment.
- To collect rent once a week, at a set time, pre-arranged with your tenant. Given, this is only if they haven’t agreed to use another payment option.
- To inspect the property. However, this usually quarterly, after giving 7-14 days written notice.
- Repairs or maintenance, with 48 hours of notice given.
- Garden maintenance, with seven days notice.
- For new tenant viewings (within the final 28 days of a tenancy, communicating and agreeing the visits).
- If the house is on the market. You can show the property on not more than two occasions in a seven-day period, again by prior arrangement.
- In an emergency, such as a fire. You don’t need to give notice in these situations.
For more information about your right of entry, check out this resource.
And, taking photos?
Your tenant may not feel comfortable with you taking photos showing their personal belongings at an inspection. While they’re a great way to record the state of a property to be used as evidence in event of a dispute, this should be discretely discussed with your tenant.
Also, if you have taken photos, never share them with a third party such as your maintenance tradie. This is a breach of privacy and can leave you liable in the event of a break in or theft.
Learn more about this and how it affects you as a landlord under the Privacy Act 1988. The best thing you can do is communicate the purpose of taking photos with your tenant and how they will be used. Here’s another resource to guide you if you’re selling this property.
Keeping things on track
If the property is old, generally needs renovation, or worse, to be demolished, and the tenant has agreed to rent it in that condition, then both parties understand and technically agree that keeping it immaculately or getting the place repaired or renovated is not going to happen.
However, as is mostly the case, the property is well looked after and presented in a clean and tidy condition when the tenant took possession, then you can expect the property to be maintained to that standard.
If the tenant refuses, you have the option to issue notice to the tenant to rectify the issue as they are in breach of the terms of the lease agreement. Please make sure you have a lease agreement and an In Going inspection, otherwise it is very difficult if you go to the tenancies tribunal.
But in a nut shell, if you've found good tenants with verifiably excellent references from past landlords or property managers, then having respect for the tenant and their rights will go along way. When dealing with people it's about relationships at the end of the day.
Managing a property certainly isn’t a set-and-forget situation, unless you’ve got a professional team of property managers representing you.