6 essential tips to self-manage your rental property
As with any DIY option, deciding to self-manage your rental property has its pros and cons. But you might be surprised we’re not going to try to talk you out of it! For some landlords it is absolutely the best way to go.
Our team has more than 80 years collective experience in investment property management and we’re happy to share some of our insights. So here’s some essential tips for those of you considering taking back the keys and becoming a self-managed landlord:
1. Beware the legislation. The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act is long and complex but, as with many laws, ignorance is no defence when you accidentally cross the line. Contracting out of the act, for example by asking tenants to give more notice to vacate or to vary your entry requirements, can lead to some hefty fines (currently $6,672 for that breach alone). Make sure they get a copy of the written lease, entry condition report and any building by-laws, as forgetting any of those can also attract a fine.
2. Start your leasing campaign with a sound knowledge of what you’re selling, its true market position, and who your customer will be. No property suits every tenant and you’ll achieve higher rents, less vacancy and longer tenancies when you take an objective look at the rental home, your competition and target the correct tenants in your promotion. We do a detailed survey of inner-Brisbane’s tenants and here’s what they want and will pay more rent to have.
3. Be prepared to wait for a good tenant and check and re-check those application forms!! It’s not unusual for our team to see false info on employment to establish affordability and one even dummied up a bond form from “his previous agents” in a bold attempt to falsely prove he’d rented before. When you see so many applications the odd ones stand out. A tenant with a bad or non-existent rental history will target a self-managed landlord where possible. This is their best way to avoid property managers’ access to tenant default databases and our experience in spotting a fraud.
4. Time is critical. You are entitled to take a bond (there’s tight laws on how much and the time you have to lodge it with the RTA) but if your tenant stops paying rent it will not be enough to cover you – even if you act immediately and follow the strict arrears process spelled out in the Act. And that’s before any cleaning or repairs for their damage is needed. To minimise your risk you will need a close eye on their payments, a tight procedure to follow their arrears, and a firm approach to show them you’re not an easy touch. The vast majority of tenants do the right thing – but unfortunately some will prefer to rent from you because they hope you won’t be as thorough or strict on arrears as a property manager.
5. Keep on top of maintenance and the tenants’ care of your property. There’s a long list of safety and health requirements and you have a legal obligation to keep a watching eye over this. Smoke alarms for example must meet current code (it changes next January) and there’s minimum inspection intervals for these and pool fences, among other items. And if you’d prefer not to inspect the property regularly you must get someone to do this for you as an un-noticed issue that leads to injury can be devastating for you and your tenants.
6. Remember your tenants can spend an amount equal to 2 weeks’ rent on emergency maintenance with their choice of tradies if they can’t reach you (the government wants this increased to 4!). You must have some system in place to either take their phone calls day and night, or make your trade nominations clear and ensure they’re contactable. For other ongoing communication we’d suggest you have your own automated voice mail message and manage the tenants’ expectation so that when you cannot pick up the phone, (or you’re out having dinner) that you will reply to their enquiry next business day.
It is entirely possible to self-manage your rental property and many Brisbane landlords do this. But the laws and rental market are complex and there’s quite a lot of protections for tenants. (And more in the pipeline). You will need to stay updated on what’s required of you.
If you’re looking for assistance in securing tenants for your self-managed property, our team offer a special Let Only service. We’ll ensure exposure to the 1000+ new tenant enquiries we receive each month (we had 1,847 in January 2021 alone!) maximise your property’s appeal and secure you quality tenants.
Contact our Client Service Manager Ann-Marie on 07 3214 6899 or firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details!