Lawn Maintenance during a Storm: Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities
There are many benefits to keeping your lawn well-maintained all year round, such as adding beauty to your home, reducing heat in your home and providing a play and relaxation area for children and families.
But even during the rainy season lawn care is essential. If you could believe it, lawn still needs to be watered – sometimes. For a lawn to be healthy, it needs 20-30 mm of water. For a simple solution to find out if your lawn has enough water during the rainy season, use a rain gauge to measure the rainfall and calculate if you still need to water. For a high-end solution, install an electronic soil moisture meter in your irrigation system. This will either deactivate your irrigation system if there is enough moisture, or interrupt ongoing irrigation.
After the rains have stopped, one important thing to remember is not to mow your lawn while still wet. This is because diseases-carrying organisms are more likely to attack wet, freshly cut grass. Allow your lawn to dry out before your start cutting.
Lawn Care in a Tenancy
The tenancy agreement between the Landlord and Tenant should include arrangements covering the maintenance of lawns, trees and gardens. The Entry Condition Report (Form 1a) and Exit condition report (Form 14a) should state the condition of the lawn and gardens.
The tenancy agreement should also specify if yard maintenance has been arranged by the landlord/property manager with a third party. The tenant should not be made to sign a maintenance agreement with a third party, on top of their rent, or should they be forced to hire a particular yard maintenance company.
Generally, mowing, edging, weeding and other yard work are the responsibilities of the tenant. However, the lease contract should stipulate this.
Tree lopping, hedging and pruning of trees and shrubs and other major work should be performed by the landlord or property manager as part of their duty to maintain the property in good condition.
Major works are not done regularly and usually performed by professionals using special equipment. These should not be the responsibility of the tenant unless otherwise stated in the lease.
Tenant or Landlord Responsibilities
Circumstances will determine whether the tenant or landlord is responsible for removing fallen branches.
Cleaning up small branches as soon as possible may be performed by the tenant. Removing larger branches, which may need special equipment and specialist skills, may be performed by the landlord or the property manager.
The responsibility of repairing the damage caused by falling branches may fall on the landlord/property manager.
Rain for consecutive days is not uncommon in Queensland anymore. This can pose problems to turf or lawns. While most lawns would be fine after four successive days of rain, even as short as 24 hours of water submersion can damage the grass and make them susceptible to diseases and insects.
What you need to do is wait for your lawn to dry up on its own to avoid any long-term damage to it. If you are renting, you can do minor cleaning or fixing required of your lawn after a storm or rain. Beyond that is the responsibility of your landlord or property manager.
The Importance of Having a Property Maintenance Plan
You get an unexpected call from your tenant to report a leaking faucet or broken mains water pipe in your rental property. This is scenario is something that property owners like you are familiar with. There are many benefits to owning an investment property, but just like any business, it comes with expenses and some of these can come out of the blue. These expenses could be repairs or replacement expenses which can be expensive.
Here is where a maintenance plan comes in. There are jobs that should be done in and around the property regularly, i.e. monthly, quarterly, annually and even every change in the season. With so many recurrent costs associated with owning an investment property, there is value in creating and implementing a property maintenance plan.
Here are some of the advantages of having a maintenance plan for your investment property:
1. Repair minor problems to prevent major ones
Don’t ignore the maintenance requests from your tenant. Fixing small problems may be less costly as leaving them unrepaired could result in bigger, and more expensive, repairs. For example, a water leak is inconvenient at the very least, but when left unrepaired for too long can damage belongings and property.
2. Avoid too many period of vacancy
The lack of maintenance by landlord is one of the main causes why tenants give notice to vacate. Keeping your property well-maintained ensures your tenant is happy and it betters your chances of receiving a higher rental income. If your tenant is happy, chances are they would stay in your property longer. And since they see you are always on top of maintenance, they would most likely reciprocate by taking care of your property. A property not is obviously not well kept would likely remain vacant for long periods, and this would not be good for your return on investment.
3. Increase property value
A well-maintained property is more attractive to tenants, ensuring that you have a large pool of renters to choose from. If you decide to sell in the future, a well-maintained property will attract more prospective buyers than a property that has numerous repair issues. You will also have the leverage of asking for a higher sale price and getting it on the strength of your well-kept property alone.
Hiring a property manager will be a great help with property maintenance. They will assess what repairs or upgrades need to be done according to the things they discover during routine inspections of your property. In addition, property managers maintain close relationships with tradies, so they can recommend which charges reasonable rates for quality work.
It takes time and effort to maintain a home that is why it is recommended that landlords create a maintenance schedule – to help keep track of jobs easily. Ensuring your property is clean and in good condition is considerably less expensive than having to wait until damaged areas things need to be or replaced.
These are buildings with historic and aesthetic values that are considered worthy of being conserved and protected for future generations. These properties can either be heritage listed or located within a “heritage conservation area” (HCA).
Heritage-listed properties can be purchased at a high priced but are tied with a complicated set of renovation do’s and don’ts. This does that mean they can’t be modified. It is actually encouraged so that the property is well maintained and fit for modern use.
Properties on HCA, on the other hand, can be modified without a Development Application. However, the local council may reject any further major alternations that may impact the look of the streetscape.
If you own a heritage house and want to make changes, whether it is a minor restoration or a major modern renovation, be sure to learn first the rules and regulations that apply from relevant approval agencies.
Typically, rendering the front façade or demolishing and rebuilding a heritage house are not permitted. But owners can be as creative as possible in their restoration ideas to make the property both attractive and functional. Here are more renovations that are permitted for heritage properties:
Make it suitable for living
Owners are encouraged to make their heritage home liveable by installing proper wiring, fire alarms, wifi, etc. Proper wiring is important because a building is useless without it. Hire a professional to make sure the property’s materials will not be damaged during the installation.
Putting in a modern kitchen and bathroom will always be permitted. Some of the elements you should consider are: a new splashback, tiles, hinges, benchtops, appliances, and more.
How the house looks from the street will typically have to be preserved. The thing to remember is to merge vintage and contemporary in a symmetrical balance, separating eras in a beautiful way, such that the overall appearance of the property is further improved. When the element you’ve added is no longer in style after many years have passed, you can take it down, install a new one and keeping the property intact.
Maintain the details
Installing new light fittings and fixtures is allowed. However, if the house has ornate ceilings make sure you keep the original appeal.
You can find antique or vintage windows or fixtures in second-hand building yards. Or you can use a joiner who can build a new timber window for you. Only hire professionals with experience on heritage home restorations.
Create an open-plan area
The structure of the front rooms of heritage houses is to be preserved. However, you can still create an open-plan living in the back rooms, with the appropriate permits.
You can take down the wall separating two bedrooms to create one big master bedroom and achieve an open-plan look.
Heritage properties give us a glimpse of by-gone eras. It is the owner’s task to conserve it, preserve it and maintain it for future generations.
Just as tenants spend time and effort investigating whether the property they are wanting to rent meets their requirements, the landlord is also assessing your suitability as a prospective tenant.
You would probably not the only one vying for the property, so you need to do all you can to look impressive in person and in paper, so the landlord would look at your application in a favourable light.
Here are the things a tenant should do or should provide to pass the screening phase of the application process:
Fill up an application form
Once you find the property that you like, complete an application form. Include all the required documents, so you will not be contacted by the landlord/agent for more information.
There are several required documents that you will need, so before you start your search, it is smart to gather them all. You are already ahead of the competition and looking good in the eyes of the landlord when you have all these information. The documents you will need are:
Photo identification (a driver’s licence or passport will do)
Reference letters (past landlords and employers)
Payslips (to show your ability to pay rent)
Rental history (your previous rental arrangements, including former addresses, late rent payments and evictions, criminal history, credit score, etc.)
Cover letter (not required, but attaching with your application firm will make you stand out from the other prospective tenants)
There are only three types of fees that the landlord/agent can take from a prospective tenant:
Holding deposit (gives the tenant the exclusive right to enter into a lease for the property)
Key deposit (tenant will get a full refund when the keys are returned)
Rent and/or bond (given after the application is approved and the lease is signed)
Make a good impression
The approval of your application is up to the hands of the landlord or their agents. Making a good impression with the landlord/agent increases your chances of success. Arrive on time at your appointments and inspections and dress nicely. When viewing the property, show proper respect. Introduce yourself to the landlord/agent and answer their questions politely. During this time, you can also ask your list of prepared questions.
Do a follow up
If you have not heard any news within 48 hours after you have submitted your application, make a follow up with the landlord/agent. Tell the landlord of your desire to lease the property and your willingness to provide more information they may need.
In case your application was unsuccessful, it will help to ask the landlord why. You can use this information to make things right in your next application.
How to Screen Potential Tenants For Your Rental Property
One of the important factors that influence the success of a rental property is finding the right occupant. With the right tenant, it is guaranteed that rent will be paid on time every time and the property will remain reasonably intact, save for normal wear and tear. With a bad tenant, the condition of the investment property is always uncertain.
With more and more people moving in and out of different Brisbane suburbs, if a property is well-marketed and presented, there’s no doubt it will attract various types of tenants. However, for self-managed landlords, finding the right tenant for their property can be tricky and challenging.
Any prospective tenant will put their best foot forward during the initial walk-through of the apartment. This makes it difficult to make an informed assessment during this brief interaction. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to finding the best tenant. You can, however, do a thorough screening of each applicant before allowing them to sign a lease.
Here are some tips to help you sort the good from the bad, and give you a pleasant and profitable investment experience:
Get Relevant Information
The rental application is a series of questions that allows the landlord to know about the prospective tenant. To get the best results, the questions should cover financial, employment and personal information.
It is also important to gather lifestyle information. Is the applicant a pet owner? Do they work odd hours or away from home? Do they often get visitors that would stay in the property?
The information they provide in their rental application should give you an idea of whether or not they are the kind of tenant that you are willing to trust your property with.
Ask For References
Do at least three reference checks from past landlords when possible. Ask the landlords how long the applicant stayed at previous properties and their reason for leaving. Good tenants live in one property much longer, usually at least a year, and their property manager or landlord reference will be available or easily obtainable. Any discrepancy in the information provided implies that something is being kept secret by the applicant and would usually raise a flag.
Check a Tenancy Database
You can check if the applicant is included in any tenancy database, a record of personal information about tenants who have had issues with their tenancies. The database tells landlords or managers whether prospective tenants had a previous record of not paying rent or damaging the property.
Here are tenancy databases that landlords or managers can contact:
Tenancy Information Centre Australasia
National Tenancy Database
Trading Reference Australia
Interview the Applicant
Conduct an informal interview of applicants that have passed the initial background screening. You can do this either by phone or face to face during a walk-through of the property.
When showing the property, pay equal attention to “selling the property” and evaluating the prospective tenant. Ask questions that will help you determine if they meet your requirements for a tenant. Do they conduct themselves in the right manner? Do they look neat or unkempt? Do they smoke?
Consider Hiring a Property Manager
A property manager will take a lot of load off your back as a landlord. They will take over many responsibilities, including screening prospective tenants and managing the operations of your investment property. Unlike self-managed landlords, they have access to tenancy databases, individual public records, identity verification and credit history.
At the outset, make sure your property is properly presented and marketed in order to attract as many prospective tenants as possible. Having a large pool of applicants increases your chances of finding a long-term tenant.
All you need to know when renting your first property
After making the decision it’s time to move out of home, there are some important things that you need to know.
What do I need to apply for my first rental property?
So, you’ve never rented before. But don’t worry, everyone must start somewhere. There are a few things that you can do to make this step a little easier.
Property Managers have a duty to ensure that you can afford the rent and that the property is the right one for you.
You will be required to provide verification of income and photo ID, along with proof of address and most likely personal references and professional referees.
In most newcomer’s circumstances, you may need to ask Mum, Dad or a relative, to go guarantor or co-sign the lease.
Talk to the property manager should you have any queries or concerns.
What happens when my application is approved?
Congratulations, your application is approved. There are several steps you will need to get through prior to being handed the keys. The first step will require you to sign documentation.
The Tenancy Agreement
Your Tenancy Agreement is an important document. It is a legal contract between you as the Tenant and the Lessor/Rental Agency.
By signing the lease agreement, you are legally committing to what is stated on the agreement, including any special terms which should be agreed to in advance.
Make sure you read and understand the agreement before signing and always keep a copy of it in a safe place.
The Bond Lodgement
In most states a rental bond is a compulsory requirement by the Lessor/Agent at the commencement of a tenancy agreement.
Your rental bond is lodged with the legislative Authorities and acts as security for the landlord or owner in case you don’t meet the terms of your lease agreement.
At the end of your agreement the bond amount will be refunded, however, if the property needs cleaning or repairs or if items need to be replaced the landlord or owner may claim some or all the bond.
The amount of the bond is specified in the Tenancy Agreement document.
What documents should I receive before moving in?
The documentation required to be given to you at the time of sign-up differs slightly from state to state, however, in most cases, the following should apply;
Information booklet relating to renting in your state or territory:
Copy of the General Tenancy Agreement
Copy of the bond lodgement form
Original and copies of the condition report – to be checked, completed and signed, then returned to the office in the required time frame
Receipt for initial rent amount, lease fees and bond
Photocopy of all keys and remote controls (if any)
Emergency contact details
What is an Entry Condition Report?
The Entry Condition Report is provided to the ingoing resident/lease holders at the beginning of their tenancy start date. This report outlines the condition of the property at the beginning of your Tenancy.
It is important that you carefully check the condition report and make sure it includes all existing damage or issues with the property. We suggest taking photos of the property before your move in and provide a copy of these photos to your agent / landlord as record of the properties original condition.
Legislation allows tenants a certain amount of days to check the details completed by the agent/owner on the condition report, to confirm or disagree with those details.
As the condition report, can be used as evidence if there is a dispute about who should pay for cleaning, damage or replacement of missing items at the end of the agreement –make sure you go through it thoroughly.
Make sure both you and the landlord/Agent agree on the contents of the condition report before signing it.
How do I prepare for a Routine Inspection?
Your landlord or real estate agent may carry out a periodic inspection of the property to ensure it is being well cared for and any routine repairs are made. This inspection may include the following:
The property is being maintained in a clean and tidy condition.
The grounds are being maintained in a clean and tidy condition.
The property is not being damaged in any way.
There are no more than the number of people specified on the tenancy agreement living at the property.
No pets are housed at the property, unless otherwise agreed to.
Any maintenance issues identified can be attended to.
There are minimum notice requirements to be given to a tenant prior to a scheduled routine. This will ensure that you have plenty of time to have a good tidy up beforehand.
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think of Brisbane is beaches and they’re not wrong – but they might just be missing out. A short trip away from the salt and sand is a budding metropolis that’s definitely worth a visit. Filled to the brim with native beauty, cultural activities and mouth-watering food, each suburb boasts its own distinct personality. But with so much on offer it’s not easy to nail down the perfect itinerary – that’s where we come in.
If you’re coming from Brisbane Airport, the easiest option is the Brisbane Airtrain. Taking you directly from the airport to the heart of the city, the train takes just under 25 minutes and costs $17.50 per person. Depending on traffic a taxi will cost anywhere between $35 and $55, but if there’s more than two of you this could work out to be more convenient – nothing like being dropped at your door! When you get a chance, make sure you purchase a Go Card from a listed retailer, which allows you to travel on all of Brisbane’s buses, trains and ferries.
In 24 hours
Bright and early | 6am
If there’s a view that can get you out of bed before 6am, it’s the one of Brisbane from the Mt Coo-tha lookout. No more than a 15-minute drive from the city, the panoramic sights extend across the horizon from the Boonah hills over the city to Moreton and Bribie Islands, and have been attracting locals and tourists alike for more than a century. If you’re feeling energetic, why not don some walking boots and take a stroll up the scenic Honeyeater track, beginning at the cascading JC Slaughter Falls?
Shop ’til you drop | 9am
There’s something truly beautiful about the surrounds of Paddington. Home to rolling hills, soft morning sunlight and vintage cottages turned enticing shopfronts, the suburb struggles to disappoint and is the perfect spot to grab some brekkie. Head down to Kettle and Tin for your fix in fresh food and exceptional coffee before finishing off in Paddington Antique Centre, which houses more than 50 unique dealers and happens to be one of two atmospheric theatres left in Australia.
It’s conceptual | 12pm
Housed in Southbank and known as one of Brisbane’s most significant cultural treasures, the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) is home to more than 16,000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art. If that doesn’t impress you, QAGOMA is also the only Australian art gallery with purpose-built facilities dedicated to the moving image and regularly hosts an incredible array of thematic exhibitions – in other words, be there or be square.
Feed me | 2pm
Melbourne may be the first city to come to mind when you mention laneway treasures, but Brisbane’s shaping up to give it a run for its money. Tucked away from the typical and cliche lies Gresham Lane. Easily accessible via 88 Creek Street, step into a world of edible diversity. From miso pork belly buns at Ichiban Yakitori to cheeky cocktails at Red Hook, the laneway has everything you could possibly want to tease your tastebuds.
Walk it off | 3:30pm
Seeing as the weather in Brisbane is renowned for its good behaviour, you may as well make the most of it and stay in the sunshine for as long as possible. Take a quick ferry across to the Holman Street Ferry Terminal and you’ll find yourself at Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge. From here you can make your way down to the New Farm Riverwalk, a long determined must-do for Brisbane visitors that will have you finishing up in New Farm Park where you can relax underneath ageing fig trees.
Danger zone | 6pm
A former power station, Brisbane Powerhouse is now a cultural hub for Brisbane’s arts community – often holding festivals, performances and exhibitions. Also the home of Australia’s summer sweetheart, Moonlight Cinema, the venue screens everything from cult classics to blockbusters. To make the night extra special, splurge on Glam Grass tickets that entitle you to a comfy bean bed and a Benefit Cosmetics deluxe sample.
Winner Winner | 9pm
A quick 15-minute stroll from New Farm Park is The Balfour Kitchen. Situated inside the beautiful art-deco inspired Spicers Balfour Hotel, the restaurant features modern Australian cuisine with European flair and a large wrap-around deck. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect place to get your feast on, Mizu Restaurant brings the best of Japanese fusion to your lips and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch them on a sake appreciation night.
Nightcap | 11pm
Okay, you’ve been there, done that – now it’s time for one last drink before calling it quits. Luckily you’re in Brisbane, so the night’s still balmy and anything is possible. At this point you have several options, but don’t stress, narrowing them down is fairly easy. The epicentre of Brisbane’s nightlife is in Fortitude Valley, so if you’re looking for a bit of a boogie, start your night off with cocktails at The Bowery and some dim-lit jazz. For those of you who’d prefer a quieter route, the West End has recently provided some exceptional watering holes, most notably Cobbler, a whiskey bar decked out in vintage sports memorabilia.
To truly treat yourself to a special kind of getaway, The Glasshouse on Hamilton Island is the way to go. Wherever you find yourself in these lavish digs, you’ll be looking out to blue waters and a string of islands on the horizon. The showpiece of this spectacular home is the come-hither infinity pool and its swim-up bar. The open living area is an entertainer’s dream, with a long dining table, Teppanyaki bar and a handful of plush lounges. When the sun sets on that gorgeous vista and it’s time to say goodnight, you’ll retire to beautifully appointed bedrooms featuring Sheridan and Ralph Lauren linens. If you’re up for exploring, you’ll find plenty to do. Take a leisurely stroll to Catseye Bay, a short catamaran trip to Whitehaven Beach, or simply wander between the island’s bars and restaurants.
A stay at Bedarra Island Villa promises romance, luxury and seclusion. The villa is set on a two-acre estate on the east side of Queensland’s Bedarra Island, a location framed by swaying palm trees and white-blonde beaches. It might sound cliché, but this villa really is a piece of tropical paradise. It’s perched near the water’s edge at Doorila Cove, a stretch of sand worthy of a ‘Most Beautiful Beach’ gong. Whether you choose to kayak on the calm waters or laze an afternoon away in a hammock, your privacy is guaranteed: the island is home to only a few private houses and has no public access, meaning day-trippers won’t be around to disturb you.