After receiving applications from prospective tenants and reviewing their information, you should consider conducting an informal interview with the applicants on your shortlist. You can do this either by phone or in person when they go for the walk-through.
Holding an interview is an important step in the screening process because you get to ask important questions that can help you gain more insight into each applicant, allowing you to separate the good from the bad.
Here are some important questions to help you screen prospective tenants:
1. Why are you moving?
The usual reasons are things like transferring to a new job, a growing family or looking for a bigger home. If they the reasons are eviction or disagreement with a neighbour or former landlord, then this is a red flag.
2. What is the status of your employment?
Finding out what the applicant’s source of income is will let you know of their ability to pay rent on time. Follow up with a question of how long have they been employed in their present job to give you an idea of job stability.
3. How much is your monthly income?
This will tell you whether the person can cover the rent. A good rule to follow is that a tenant’s monthly income should be adequate to cover rent for two and a half months. If there are two earners, take into consideration the combined earnings.
4. Are you paying additional expenses, i.e credit card debts?
The person’s income will give you a general idea of their ability to pay rent, but they might not always be able to pay rent on time if there are other stuffs they are paying for.
5. How many people will reside in the property?
The ideal is a maximum of two people in one bedroom. The fewer people the less wear and tear on your rental property. You also need to follow the fire code that requires only a limited number of people who are allowed to rent and live in an apartment. Health and safety risks are also avoided with fewer people.
6. Do you have any pets?
If you don’t allow pets in your property, it’s best to know upfront, so you don’t waste any more of your time and the applicant’s.
7. Have you been evicted?
You can find this information in a tenancy database, or the person may deny it, but it is still worth asking because life is not black and white. If the answer is “yes”, you are giving the person a fair chance to explain what happened. If they had been down on their luck at one point, the eviction may be just a minor setback in their lives and does not represent their financial capacity now. If they reason is damaged to property or other disruptive behaviour, that puts them in “unsuitable” tenant category.
This is also the perfect time to request for references from the applicant’s employer and former landlord and to ask their permission to conduct a credit and background check on them. Not giving their consent is grounds for you to eliminate them from your prospective tenant pool.
You can learn a lot about an applicant just by asking the right questions and listening to their answers. Based on their responses, you can pre-qualify tenants, identify their expectations and set your requirements.
If you can’t spare the time and effort to deal with tenant applications, think about hiring a property manager. A property manager will take on the responsibility of overseeing your rental property, including the screening of tenants.
Property managers bring with them many benefits, including access to tenancy databases that provide extensive tenancy information and a database of pre-approved tenants who have been deemed suitable. Self-managed landlords do not have these advantages.
Upgrades That Will Make Your Rental Property More Profitable
Keeping your rental property well-maintained ensures your tenants are happy, and your property gets rarely vacated. But in order to create a more positive cash flow for your investment, and even increase the market value of your property, considering property upgrades can boost your rental profit. The mention of spending for upgrades or renovation expenses easily scares many landlords, but the trick here is to identify which areas to improve that will both benefit your tenants and bring higher return on investment.
Here are some upgrades that will help maximize your investment property without overcapitalising:
One of the top renovations for profit recommended by many experts is redesigning the kitchen. Nowadays, modular kitchens are the trend – and they improve the livability of a house or apartment without costing the owner too much money.
To ensure you get a well-designed kitchen, use a custom kitchen builder as they will supply and install the cabinets as well as offer a warranty. Be consistent with your renovation designs as well, as the lack of aesthetic value can drive away potential tenants . For example, do not combine an expensive, branded kitchen appliance (like a stove) with poor quality cabinets and storage that are not durable.
The number of bathrooms in new homes has been on the rise, with an average of 2.6 bathrooms per home today. It makes sense to update or add a bathroom, as tenants and buyers clamour for modern, clean and stylish fixtures and fittings in this area of a property.
Make sure to set a clear budget at the outset of the project and make it a goal to stick to a fixed price. It is easy to spend too much as there are many parts or components to a bathroom.
Repainting the walls with modern colours and shade is probably one of the best ways to boost the appearance of a home’s interior. Choose a neutral colour throughout so it would be easy for tenants or buyers to bring in whatever furniture they have from their old place. A light colour on the window frames will attract the eye outside, creating the illusion of a bigger space.
There is trend nowadays towards creating an outdoor area that offers indoor outdoor living. In the past, it was enough that a patio has a barbecue grill and some chairs. Now, the outdoor area is considered an extension of the inside of the home. The outdoor area has the power to evoke the emotions of buyers and tenants. They see a well-designed patio area, imagine themselves relaxing in there and they are sold.
There are small, inexpensive jobs you can do to boost the profitability of your investment property such as:
Install a new modern door to increase the curb appeal of your home.
Install new door handles.
Install secure locks and/or security doors.
When making a renovation for profit, plan it with a broad audience in mind, instead of including too many elements based on your personal tastes and preferences. Remember that you’re not going to live in the property, other people with likely different tastes from yours, will.
Double check the costs of your upgrades. To ensure you are not being overcharged by tradespeople or suppliers, hire a quantity surveyor for the major jobs to give you the figures on labour costs, material costs and tax deductions that you are entitled to claim.
The Best Type of House in Rain-Heavy Areas in Australia
The impact of heavy rains and its subsequent flooding can be devastating to human life and property. With climate change, flood disasters have now become common more than ever. This is why it is wise to factor in the location and the type of house when buying. But what if the location where your house is sitting in had been flooded in recent years?
It could turn out to be more expensive to relocate than to rebuild to make your home flood-proof. Australia has a recurring problem with flooding because people are still building in the path of floods and population growth continues unabated in low-lying floodplains.
Houses for flood-prone areas
Homeowners living in flood zone can either flood-proof their homes or build their properties high on stilts or stumps.
Many houses across Australia – from colonial homes to Queensland bungalows – are elevated off the ground. There are many practical reasons to build off the ground: to allow houses to be built on uneven or hilly ground and to counter flooding in flood-prone areas.
Houses on stilts were common until 1980s. Thereafter, there was a population boom that prompted for bigger houses. The stilts were removed to build below – additional bedrooms, new living areas, etc. At the same time, climate change happened and the rains seem not so heavy anymore.
Australians forgot that they live in a subtropical climate and that rains and monsoons are part of the landscape. They got used to living in dry conditions that they’d forgotten to build for wet conditions. Buildings, home and shops built close to the ground sprouted and more and more dwellings were being constructed on worst lands.
If you are building a house from scratch, it is worth considering a resilient house design. This requires resilient materials and construction. This type of house can still be occupied during a flood event, when utilities such as water, gas and electricity may be cut off. The house design is conceived to be self-sufficient in electricity, water and food. Food would be the responsibility of the occupants, obviously, but the house itself should be a passive solar design featuring potable water and bottled gas storage facilities.
Flood-proofing your house
If either elevating your home off the ground or building a flood-resilient house aren’t options you can consider at the moment, you can still do minor works to make your house flood-proof.
Dry flood-proofing: This involves installing floodgates to keep water out of your house. The base of doors and vents in brickwork will be sealed using these removable barriers.
Wet flood-proofing: This method requires allowing water in and out as easily as possible using tiled floors and water-resistant plaster boards. This would be helpful especially during massive floods where walls can be damaged by water buildup.
Buy the right electrical appliances: As much as possible pick electrical appliances that can easily be lifted to higher locations, or can be kept in high locations. For example, choosing a front-loading washing machine over a top-loader as the former can be installed on a shelf.
One major storm, or one major downpour, can easily cause damage to property. And in light of major floodings in Brisbane and other parts of Australia, building or re-building on wet conditions is worthy of a serious consideration.
Spraying Cockroaches in Preparation for the Summer Season
Australians love summer! It’s the perfect weather to go out and enjoy the sun and surf. But for homeowners, summer is a dreaded time of the year because this is when cockroaches are thriving and are most active. These pests are around all-year around, but they are most visible during the warmer months that they breed. The more hot and humid it is, the more active cockroaches are.
Cockroaches need not ruin the fun of summer as there are many effective methods to get rid of these creepy crawlies. One of them is spraying. If you are concerned of the chemicals used in sprays, there are natural-based ones that you can easily buy in the stores or make yourself.
Spray to repel cockroaches
Be proactive when dealing with cockroaches, especially when summer is approaching. Doing nothing could leave your home to cockroach infestation.
One of the most effective ways to repel cockroaches is with the use of essentials – not just any essential oil. It should be peppermint oil, cedarwood oil and/or cypress oil. Mix 30% essential oils with 70% water. Pour this natural cockroach repellent into a spray bottle and spray surfaces where food is prepared or where they can climb in from.
You can also use cotton balls with 3 to 4 drops of one of the essential oils and put them in parts of your home that attracts cockroaches such as under the ink and beneath the fridge. Rub some of the mixture on your entryways as well.
The use of the essential oils stated above is effective is repelling cockroaches and prevent them from invading your home.
Prevention is better than cure
Cockroaches are very hard to get rid of once they can into your home. They’re hard to find because they hide in hard to reach cracks and openings. There is some truth when people say that cockroaches can survive an atomic bomb. They can lay eggs without breeding and they’re survival instinct has been honed to perfection. If you can believe it, a cockroach can survive up to a week or two after having its head cut off!
This makes it more important to take preventive measures rather than taking action when there is already an infestation. Here are ways you can prevent cockroaches from invading your home:
Keep your home clean and clutter-free. Cockroaches thrive on filth and clutter because these are environments where they can easily find food, water and warm shelter. Take your trash out regularly. Wash dishes as soon as you’ve finished using them.Wipe your dinner table and kitchen countertops of food spills and leftovers. Also, keep your clutter inside sealable containers and all your food in tightly sealed containers.
Seal the tiny cracks and openings throughout your home using a caulking gun. Cockroaches used these as entry points, and regardless of how small these cracks are, these pests can squeeze through them as they can flatten their bodies. In addition, make sure to block your sink and tub with a stopper when they are not in used.
Plug all water leaks. Cockroaches need water more than food. Cut off their water sources and you deprive cockroaches of one of their basic necessities.
Cockroaches carry diseases and dangerous bacteria. They transfer these germs to places where they crawl about, such as your food surfaces, so make all efforts to prevent a cockroach infestation in your home.
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.
Between October and March, the Australian state of Queensland experiences hot, sticky temperatures and heavy rainfall. It’s not always blue skies in the Sunshine state, so here are some tips on how to prepare your home during the rainy season, especially during severe storms. Following these tips will help minimise the effects of water damage to your property.
Storm proof your home
Queensland’s storms are notorious for wreaking havoc on homes and other properties. Do the following to make sure your home is storm proof all throughout the year:
Trim the trees in your yard and move away dead branches away from your house.
Keep your roof in good condition by clearing the gutters, repairing loose tiles and sealing leaks.
If you reside in an area often visited by cyclones, install shutters or metal screens to prevent windows from breaking.
If you have an automated sprinkler system make sure to turn it off, or if you have a pool make sure the water level is low, so water from these sources will not add to the deluge.
Learn theEmergency Plan that the Queensland government has prepared for its citizens, designed to prepare them in cases of emergencies.
Do research on flooding in your area. Your local planning and zoning office can tell you whether your home is above or below the flood level, or whether there is a history of flooding where you live.
Before the storm arrives
You have plenty of time to prepare before the storm arrives. Make sure to do the following:
Move your cars and boat in a shelter.
Tie down your outdoor furniture.
Tape your windows with industrial-strength packing tape to protect the windows during high winds.
Unplug all appliances.
Bring your pets and any unsecured items inside your house.
If there is a cyclone, turn off electricity, gas and water switches.
Learn how to turn off the electricity in your home in case of flooding. Remember not to switch the power on until everything has been dried out.
If an evacuation is imminent, make sure all your doors and windows are locked and you have yourEmergency Kit with you.
During the storm
It is safest to stay in a stairwell or small room, like a basement or bathroom, while the storm is raging outside. Listen to the radio or watch the television for any updates on the storm, so you’ll know when the storm has passed or an evacuation is necessary.
Cyclones, floods and summer storms are natural occurrences in Queensland, so it is advisable to always be prepared for the rainy season.
Make sure your home insurance is current and covers the cost of cleaning up and disposing of debris around your house and repairing broken furniture and other items in your house. Take photos of the damage to an object or item to use are evidence when processing a claim.
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.