BD:Blog:the-how-tos-of-renting-out-your-property
BD:Blog
BD:HC
Budget Direct

The How-Tos Of Renting Out Your Property

Looking for smarter
Home Insurance?

Get a Quote

The How-Tos Of Renting Out Your Property

With housing prices in Australia ever on the rise — by a median of 6.9 per cent in our eight major cities in 2014, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics1 — property is a sound investment, and many Australians are becoming landlords to secure their investment and start building a property portfolio.

But there’s more to being a great landlord than hammering a ‘For Lease’ sign into the front lawn and waiting for the rental dollars to come rolling in. Taking care to prepare your house or apartment for renters can make a huge difference in terms of the amount of rent you can charge as well as the kind of tenant you will attract.

A clean, well-maintained and beautiful property is more likely to attract tenants

A clean, well-maintained and beautiful property is more likely to attract tenants who will take pride in it and, important for you as the owner, take good care of it.

So what kinds of things can you do as a landlord to prepare your property for rent? We’ve prepared some top design and maintenance ideas to make your property stand out in the market, as well as a checklist of responsibilities you should be aware of to help you get your place rental ready.

Fix It Up

Think about what you would look for in a prospective home and use that as a benchmark when you’re preparing your property for renters.

If you’re planning on any major renovations chances are you won’t be able to tackle them by yourself and you’ll have to work with tradies. Consequently, when Cherie Barber, Australia’s Renovation Queen, was asked what skills are important for renovation she says: “I’d say good management skills are essential, whereas a good eye for design is definitely an asset, but you can always call on professionals to help out with that.”

RentingOut (3)

Do a close inspection of the property and fix anything that’s broken or damaged, whether major or minor. Keep an eye out for chipped paint, jammed locks, broken tiles, dripping taps, dirty skylights and torn fly-screens.

If the property is old, also check that windows open and close properly, and that the taps are in good working order.

The outside of your home is as important as the inside, so remember to clean out the gutters, check the functionality of any gates and fences, ensure that any pest problems are taken care of and, if there’s a watering system installed, that it is working properly.

It is much easier to fix problems before renters move in, and will also greatly enhance their comfort while living there.

It is much easier to fix such problems before renters move in, and will also greatly enhance their comfort while living there.

Also, take a good look at the state of the kitchen and bathroom. If they are ancient, doing a simple renovation can make a huge difference in the value and desirability of your home. Such work can be quite affordable, but before proceeding, it is worth doing a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that you can recoup your initial outlay.

If you’re thinking ‘Yes! That salmon pink bathroom has got to go!’ then read on. We suggest installing dark tiles and matching grout on the floor to disguise dirt and wear, and complementing them with white walls and fixtures.

Dark colours make a room look smaller, and lighter colours make it look larger, so blending the two can create aesthetic balance. A frameless glass shower also gives a bathroom a sense of spacious modernity, and mirrors lend extra brightness and the illusion of space.

Finally, you’ll want your tenants to leave your property in tip-top condition when they leave, so set the standard high from the beginning by cleaning the property from rooftop-to-toe.

Be thorough: have carpets steam-cleaned, polish the floorboards, sugar soap the walls, clean the windows inside and out… basically, assume the mentality of a tenant who really wants their bond back and go from there!

Be thorough: have carpets steam-cleaned, polish the floorboards, sugar soap the walls, clean the windows inside and out

All the Mod-Cons

It’s worthwhile to leave some inclusions behind for the use of your tenants. A few well-chosen white goods can add to the value of the rent and also increases convenience for renters. This is especially the case if your property has unusually proportioned spaces for such items, which would require your tenants to buy new goods.

Leaving a dishwasher and a washing machine are a good start, although you may also consider including a tumble dryer if your property is in a colder, wetter part of the country, or a microwave if it’s a studio apartment with no oven. These little touches can make a tenant feel taken care of.

If you leave inclusions, they should be in good condition. No one wants to deal with your old, broken washer. We also suggest investing in water-saving models, which are better both for the environment and your water rates!

Create an Oasis

There are a huge range of plants that require very little maintenance and would be perfect for your rental property.

It can be tempting for new landlords to strip the garden entirely in anticipation of black-thumbed tenants, but resist! There are a huge range of plants that require very little maintenance and would be perfect for your rental property. This takes on extra importance in dense urban areas, where properties may be close enough to each other that neighbours can easily see into windows.

Hedges and trees in a row can increase privacy, and having plants that cover the ground will also prevent the occurrence of straggly weeds.

We recommend Australian natives as a sustainable, low-maintenance and fauna-friendly option for your garden. Many Australian natives don’t require regular watering, and being indigenous means they’re well-suited to the particularities of Australian soil.

Consult with your local nursery to find out what species are native to your local area, as it is always best to match plants to their natural ecosystem. Some varieties include lilly pilly for a hedge plant, which flourishes in dry conditions, making it ideal for rental properties, and native flowering grasses such as lomandra and dianella, which provide lush ground cover.

Know Your Responsibilities

Under common law, landlords must guarantee the safety of any rental property, ensuring that no injury could be posed by your property to tenants, neighbours or the general public. Each state and territory has their own regulations, so check your state government website to be sure that your property is complying with the law.

Check your state government website to be sure that your property is complying with the law.

Basic responsibilities include ensuring that elements such as electricity, gas and heating are in working order, and that there are no health-threatening issues in the home, such as mould or rising damp. Also, each property where people sleep must have working fire alarms (again, check your state government’s website for regional regulations).

You may also wish to look into taking out landlord insurance to protect you against some of the risks associated with renting that aren’t covered by home and contents insurance or strata title insurance policies.

Not all policies are created equal, says Metro Property Management’s Leah Calnan who previously wrote: “Like anything nowadays there are many different policies on the market to choose from. I have worked with some fantastic policies, but I have seen owners incur considerably out-of-pocket expenses due to taking out the wrong policy.” This is why it’s important to read the PDS and compare covers before you buy.

Property Manager vs. Do-It-Yourself

Some owners find managing their own properties immensely satisfying; it can keep overall costs down, and can also lead to great and lasting relationships with your tenants. But if this sounds like a lot of work to you, you might consider engaging a property manager to save you time and make the process easier.

RentingOut (1)

Look for a property manager from a reputable agency who is knowledgeable about current legislation regarding landlord responsibilities.

Most real estate agencies have agents who specialise in property management, and while their fee will cost a percentage of the rent, they find tenants and liaise with them on your behalf, arrange lease agreements, organise rental inspections and facilitate maintenance of the property. Property managers also know the regulations for your state or territory, which reduces the information you’d otherwise be required to keep up with.

Look for a property manager from a reputable agency who is knowledgeable about current legislation regarding landlord responsibilities.

To gain further practical advice on being a landlord read our article 7 tips for new landlords.

 

1 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6416.0

http://www.propertyobserver.com.au/forward-planning/investment-strategy/q-and-a/33386-q-a-can-cosmetic-renovations-really-make-money-with-cherie-barber.html

http://www.propertyobserver.com.au/finding/residential-investment/property-management/12572-yes-you-really-need-landlord-insurance.html