Why should I use a property manager instead of managing the property myself?
The Residential Tenancies Act is a specialised field with legal implications and harsh penalties for the property owner if things don’t go right. When dealing with residential tenancies, at Lifestyle Rentals Kellie gives you her assurance to always act on your behalf ethically, legally and with your financial security in mind. Kellie is fully conversant with the Queensland Residential Tenancies Act, The Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act (PAMD Act) and PAMD Code of Conduct.
Additionally, investing in property can be an emotional experience. Managing it yourself means developing a close relationship with your tenants. This can be problematic if you are constantly being contacted for minor maintenance issues, and it can make it difficult for you to pursue rent arrears or introduce rent increases if you feel friendly with your tenants. Many properties managed by private owners are under market rent. When things go wrong and tenants go in arrears, owners do not have the training and experience to adequately handle evictions, court appearances, and insurance claims. Property Management fees are tax deductible – why risk emotional and financial stress when your interests can be protected by a professional?
If I want to change my managing agent, is this hard to do?
No, the process is quite simple. You have the right to choose who you want to manage your property and if you are not satisfied with your current property manager you have the right to end your current agreement. On page 2 of your current PAMD 20a Appointment of Agent, your current agent will have a notice period stated for the end of continuing appointment. This can be as much as 90 days but under law may be no less than 30 days.
If it is 90 days you may be able to negotiate with your agent to reduce this notice period to 30 days, and provide them notice in writing that you are ending the appointment. Once you have given the written notice to your current managing agent Lifestyle Rentals will handle the transition process for you. Kellie will liaise with your current agent up to handover date and collect the property and tenant file from them on handover date. The tenants will be contacted to discuss the new property management services and processes and will be provided with the new bank details for future rent payments.
How will you market my Property for Rent?
Whether advertising your investment property for the first time or advertising to re-let your property, the same amount of time and energy is dedicated to marketing your property to the highest standard. To ensure the highest market rent and lowest vacancy rates, as part of the leasing service the following will be implemented:
- Professional photography will be used to maximise first impressions, attract quality tenants and stand out from a crowd.
- The internet will market your property to the global community and is proven to be the best way to generate maximum enquiry and source prospective tenants. Your property will be listed on realestate.com.au, lifestylerentalsgc.com.au as well as the Lifestyle Rentals Facebook Page.
- A professional looking signboard will be erected in a prominent position at the front of your property, if authorised by you and council approved.
- The database of prospective tenants searching for similar properties in your area will be contacted with the aim of matching a suitable tenant to your property.
- Relocation Agents are contacted as they often have contact with professional clients relocating to the Gold Coast and in need of quality rental properties.
- Regular newsletters featuring properties for lease and e-brochures are sent out to an extensive database of prospective tenants, local and interstate.
What can I do to prevent long periods with my property being vacant?
There are several things you can do to ensure your property is income producing with limited down-time as follows:
- Ensure that the property is priced correctly in the current market. Rents can fluctuate throughout the year and just because you achieved a certain weekly rent 2 years ago does not necessarily mean that you will achieve the same rent in the current market. Refer to the Current Market Analysis (CMA) provided by Lifestyle Rentals to see if your property is priced correctly. If your home is not attracting the enquiry, a small weekly decrease will cost you far less than if the property sits vacant for a few weeks.
- Ensure that the property is in good state or repair and is appealing to anyone viewing the home. This means internally and externally as it is very important that the property presents well from the street. Most tenants will “drive by” the home before attending an inspection so if it looks unappealing from the street it could deter them from attending any further inspections or making an application. It is a good idea to have the gardens maintained by a recommended gardener during the vacant period.
- How is your property manager handling enquiries? Are they responded to promptly? How is your property manager treating prospective tenants at inspections? It is important to be using a professional property manager who always show up for appointments and respond to enquiries in a timely manner. A mix of “open for inspections” and “private inspections” are both arranged to ensure that every tenant who makes an enquiry has the opportunity to view the property.
How much bond can I charge and who holds the bond throughout the tenancy?
A rental bond is a security deposit a tenant pays at the start of a tenancy. It is held by the Residential Tenancies Authority and is paid back to the tenant at the end of the tenancy provided no money is owed to the Landlord for rent, damages or other costs. The Bond Lodgement (Form 2) must be accurately completed and signed by both the tenant and agent. This form along with the bond payment must be lodged with the RTA within 10 days or receiving the payment.
In a general tenancy, the maximum bond that can be charged is equivalent to 4 weeks rent if the rent is $700 a week or less. If the rent is more than $700 a week there is no limit on the bond.
Do I have to accept pets at my property?
There are no laws to state whether you must accept a pet or not. Before considering a pet, think about whether the property is suitable.
Considerations might include if there enough room or if the property fully fenced. Many Landlords will consider “pets upon application” to avoid missing out on a recommended tenant who comes with excellent references including the family pet. This is of course more common with houses as opposed to units due to more yard space for the pet and the fact that many Body Corporate will not allow pets within unit complexes. Pets upon application means that a decision is made based on the type of pet, how many pets the tenant may have and how good their rental references are.
A tenant may only keep pets on the premises if the Landlord approves and the tenancy agreement states that pets are allowed and a Pet Agreement can be added to the General Tenancy Agreement.
How many keys and remotes do I need to provide?
Keys must be supplied by the Landlord for all windows and door locks as well as remotes for remote garage doors. If there is more than one tenant named on the tenancy agreement, at least one of the tenants must be provided with a key/opening device that opens every lock to the premises. For example at least one tenant must receive a key for all doors locks, window locks, cupboard locks, garage door locks, mailbox locks etc.
Each of the other tenants named on the tenancy agreement must receive a set of access keys, which is a key/opening device for each lock that secures entry to the premises eg. front and back doors, security gates. A full set of keys must also be provided to Lifestyle Rentals, as your managing agent in order to gain access when required throughout the tenancy.
Can I charge my tenants for water?
If water consumption charges are to be passed onto the tenant, all the minimum criteria must be met as per legislation. Full water consumption charges can be passed onto tenants only if:
- The rental property is individually metered and;
- The tenancy agreement states the tenant must pay for water consumption and;
- The rental property is water efficient.
A rental premises is considered water efficient if certain water fixtures meet the standards listed below:
- Internal cold water taps and single mixer taps (excluding bathtub taps and taps for appliances must have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
- Shower heads must have a maximum flow rate of 9 litres per minute
- Toilets must have a dual flush function not exceeding 6.5 litres on full flush and 3.5 litres on half flush and a maximum average flush volume of 4 litres (based on the average of 1 full flush and 4 half flushes)
Should your home not be water efficient, you must agree to pay for a reasonable amount water usage. Any excess used over this agreed amount will be passed onto the tenant as excess water charges. In this case the property must still be individually metered and the agreed excess amount must be stated on the tenancy agreement.
What is required for my property to comply with the legislation?
All houses in Queensland must be fitted with compliant smoke alarms as required by the Fire and Rescue service Act 1990 (QLD) and they must meet the minimum legal requirements. The smoke alarms must be inspected by a licensed smoke alarm contractor within 30 days prior to the commencement of the tenancy to ensure they are compliant.
The law states all homes built since 1992 must have safety switches installed on power circuits. They are not an optional extra!
Any Property leased at the time of a new tenancy and renewal of tenancy which has a pool, regardless of whether its indoor or outdoor, shared or non-shared (including spa pools), will require the owner of the pool to hold a current Pool Safety Certificate and the pool to be registered with the state-based Swimming Pool Register.
Blinds and other internal window coverings with cords must now comply with new national laws and safety requirements after recent legislative changes to the Trade Practices Act.
What if my tenants don’t pay their rent?
Tenant applicants will only submitted to a Landlord after a strict qualification and screening process has been completed and we are confident that their rent obligations can be met, with rent paid on time and in advance. However unforeseen circumstances can arise from time to time and situations can change, thus leading to rental arrears. As we cannot predict the unpredictable ALL Tenants must acknowledge and sign a strict ZERO TOLERANCE ARREARS POLICY. The procedure for rent arrears is as follows:
1 – 4 days late. Tenants will receive a phone call, SMS or email and asked to make immediate payment.
5 – 7 days late. Tenants will receive an email/letter of demand for late payment and will be warned of an impending Breach Notice.
8 days late. The tenants will be served with a Notice to Remedy Breach and have 7 days to remedy the breach by paying the rent arrears.
16 days late. If the breach has not been remedied and rent still not paid, Landlord’s are notified and instructions will be sought to issue the tenants with a Notice to Leave, giving them at least 7 days to vacate the premises.
Please Note: Landlord Insurance is highly recommended. In the unlikely event that a tenant does not pay their rent arrears, most Landlord Insurance Policies will cover for rent loss if the above procedures are followed.
How often are routine inspections carried out?
As part of the management service offered to Landlords, regular Routine Inspections are carried out every 3 to 4 months. It is important that the individual who completed the Entry Condition Report is the same as the individual who conducts the Routine Inspections. This and the fact that the Routine Inspection reports will also be checked off against the original Entry Condition Report ensures that variations in the condition of the property throughout the tenancy are not missed. After each routine inspection each owner will receive:
- A detailed written report of the condition of the interior and exterior of the property
- Advise on any maintenance/repairs either noticed or reported by the tenants
- Photos outlining the general condition of the property as well as any maintenance/repair items
- Information regards any relevant notices issued to tenants to remedy a breach
- A re-inspection of the property should the tenants receive a Notice to Remedy Breach
- Notification of when the next routine inspection is due should you wish to attend.
How and when can I increase the rent?
Rent reviews are conducted annually or at the time of the lease renewal process. The review is based on the comparative rentals in the current market. A detailed Comparative Market Analysis will be offered to support any suggested increases.
At least three months prior to the expiry date of the existing General Tenancy Agreement, the Landlord will receive written notification of the expiry and Landlord instructions will be sought as to the offer of a lease renewal and a rent review.
Prompt instructions from the Landlord are essential as Tenants must be given 2 months notice of a rent increase. The rent cannot be increased more than once every six months.
What happens if the tenants break their lease?
If tenants need to break their lease they will be responsible for all of the re-letting and advertising costs. Tenants are required to pay these costs up-front prior to us advertising the property for lease. They are also required to keep paying rent until the new approved tenants move into the property. Each new applicant must submit an application and provide the relevant identification. They will be screened with reference checks and TICA checks as per the tenant selection process for the original tenants. All applicants are put forward to you for approval. An applicant will not be approved if they do not meet the selection criteria.
How often am I paid and do I receive statements?
Owners may choose between one monthly payment at the end of each month or two payments per month, one at mid-month plus another at the end of the month.
For each payment made, you will receive a statement detailing the following:
- The amount of rent the tenants have paid within that pay period
- What date the rent is paid to
- Deductions made for authorised fees and commissions
- Deductions made for any authorised invoices
- The amount that has been paid into your nominated bank account
With your authorisation, council rates, body corporate levies and insurance premiums can be sent to Lifestyle Rentals for payment on your behalf. Invoices for authorised repairs and maintenance can also be paid from your rental income. Many owners choose this option as it makes accounting at tax time a smooth and simple process. Complimentary End of Financial Year Statements are sent to owners annually detailing all income and expenses relating to your investment property which effectively will save you time and money.
What insurance cover do I need?
Owning an investment property should be a rewarding experience however unexpected tenant trouble or plain bad luck can turn a smooth sailing tenancy into stressful and costly one if you don’t have the right insurance cover.
Landlord insurance policies vary in the type and extent of cover offered as well as the premium however, most will cover you for rent loss, malicious or accidental damage and theft. Landlord Insurance is highly recommended to all Landlords, not only for peace of mind but to ensure you are not out of pocket should your tenants default in any way.
It is a requirement that Landlords MUST obtain and maintain Public Liability Insurance with public liability providing cover to a minimum of $10 million. Landlords must provide to Lifestyle Rentals upon request and no more than annually, a certificate of currency of the insurance taken out with the minimum cover.
Contents Insurance for your property’s fittings and fixtures may be included with your property insurances or incorporated in a Landlord Protection policy. If your property is a unit the cover must include the internal unit space. Public Liability under the Building Insurance, taken out by the Body Corporate, only covers the common areas. It does not cover events inside your unit.