Generally, a tenant is not responsible for fair wear and tear. However, you must carefully read your tenancy agreement because a landlord can easily dodge their responsibilities through a written agreement.
As a renter, it can often feel as though you’re asking your landlord if you’re allowed to sneeze in your own home.
Rest assured, when you want to make modifications to your rental, you just need to ask!
However, if you still want to decorate and make your home comfortable without ruffling feathers, there’s some top technology on the market which will help you achieve your goals.
This is often a big one among renters. The landlord is most likely to give the go-ahead, you just need to ask.
However, if you’re concerned, there are ways around making holes in the wall. Using sticky hooks is one way and there has been a lot of advancement in the production of these throughout the years.
Command goes up to a 7.6kg holding weight, so those larger pieces of art can have a place in your household.
Just make sure that you clean the surface of the wall properly before sticking the strip onto it and that it won’t rip away any paint – plaster walls, for instance, aren’t good options.
Command hanging strips range up to $18.
Painting the walls
One of the best ways to brighten up a room is to give the walls a fresh lick of paint.
Renters can feel as though this is a big ask of their landlords, but there are ways to make your landlord feel more at ease about you bringing out the paint and brush.
The rule of thumb for renters is to leave the house as you found it, so if you do paint the walls (with your landlord’s permission), you can always paint them back to the original colour and Tint Paint can help.
The high-tech paint company has developed a colour reader called a Pico, which reads what colour you direct it on to. The company will send out that exact colour from their warehouse.
This means renters can read the colour of the wall prior to painting, so when they leave the rental, they can repaint the walls in the original colour.
Pico retails for $79, which is redeemable in products.
A lack of air conditioning might not seem like a big deal during winter, but come summer, all you want is some cool air flowing through your stuffy house.
If your landlord isn’t prepared to install air-conditioning within the house, there are some high-tech portable options to choose from.
DeLonghi, which is usually known as a company that makes coffee machines, has a popular portable air conditioner on the market that will keep the whole room feeling cool.
The Pinguino Silent automatically adjusts temperature and humidity, and is very quiet. It also has an A+ energy-efficiency rating so you can feel okay about your bills each month.
The Pinguino Silent retails for $649.
Planting a veggie patch
A garden at a rental usually has to be maintained by the tenant – however, ripping it up and replanting your own veggie patch is likely to give your landlord the grumbles.
High-tech solutions, like the Vegepod, mean you can still have a veggie patch that won’t disturb the pre-existing garden.
The pods are all self-watering, have a protective cover, and produce their own microclimate.
Vegepods start at $169.
By now, most people should be aware of the new legislative requirements regarding smoke alarms in Queensland properties. However, three main misconceptions are surrounding these new laws.
The first misconception is the possible extension of the time frame. Now there’s no indication from the government that they are looking to grant a time extension so the deadline of 1 January 2022 is absolutely the date that people are to work towards.
The second misconception is that we have plenty of time. 1 January 2022 sounds far away but it’s not. Especially when you consider that there are around 566,000 rental properties in Queensland and a limited number of skilled electricians to conduct the work, the reality is that the deadline is just around the corner.
The issue of skilled electricians leads to the third misconception, which is that there are plenty of skilled electricians out there to undertake this work. But again, the reality is that we have a shortage of skilled electricians who understand the new legislative requirements.
Our concern is that people are waiting and that we won’t have enough time to meet the pending deadline if people don’t act today.
Not meeting the deadline does present some serious risks to property owners. If you are looking to rent your property, you will not be able to do so if it doesn’t have compliant smoke alarms by 1 January 2022. Similarly, if you are looking to sell your property it will negatively impact the sale process. Therefore, property owners must have compliant smoke alarms by the deadline.
The REIQ is very passionate about this legislation and that is because, at its core, this legislation is about saving lives. There is no Queenslander, there is no Australian who wants to see people losing their lives in house fires. Because of this, it is incredibly important [that] everybody supports these legislative reforms.
By Karen Herbert & Eileen Herbert-Goodall
The panic is palpable, the barrage of phone calls exhausting, the need to facilitate negotiations dire – this is the new normal for property managers all around the country.
It’s hard to comprehend the sheer scale of the battle front that is the unfolding COVID-19 crisis; this battle extends beyond the obvious health calamity and has swiftly ballooned into an economic, social, psychological and emotional disaster for those struggling to pay their rent and/or mortgages. Here’s a snapshot of the cries of desperation swamping property managers daily.
‘I’ve lost my job and have no income to live on.’
‘This is not a game for me. If I don’t get support from you and the owner as the government is providing, then I’ll just stop paying rent.’
‘It’s your responsibility to go to the owner on my behalf and have this discussion to provide an outcome.
‘I’d like to know if my landlords would consider a reduction in my rent during this time?’
‘I’ll be on jobseeker for the next 3-6months and I’m so nervous about my financial situation during this time.’
‘We’re working with the application form in claiming through the RTA but, unfortunately, we aren’t included in the residential status section. We feel hopeless now as we still aren’t eligible for assistance.’
‘Unfortunately, my follow-up with the RTA about the rent assistance up to $2000 didn’t get us any help – so no funding for us. The RTA’s advice was to ask the real estate/landlord to drop the rent value by a percentage for say…3 months, then increase the rent again for the following say…6 months.’ ‘At this point, it seems we do not fit into any box for government funding unfortunately. We’re hoping to be able to access our Super to help in the coming weeks.’
These are the pleas heard by Property Managers as the COVID-19 battle rages on, bringing our nation to a standstill.
The media continues to suggest tenants and landlords need to work together and negotiate rent reductions during these uncertain times; yet, the herculean task faced by Property Managers who must navigate (and help solve) such situations remains unacknowledged. It seems we are invisible in this ongoing battle to keep people afloat and sheltered as they struggle to cover their rent and other bills. Evidently, we wear many hats in the day-to-day management of rental properties; but, during these troubling times, we must now go above and beyond the call of duty.
As a business owner of a Property Management specialist firm, my current daily challenge is to prop up members of my brave team who take desperate phone calls from frightened tenants. My staff must talk to everyday Australian citizens who’ve not only lost their jobs, but also face the possibility of losing the roof over their heads. They patiently listen to these sad stories, offering options and sympathy where they can.
They are the forgotten soldiers, who bring stories of desperation to Landlords, many of whom have also lost their jobs and are now struggling to meet financial commitments.
They are the forgotten soldiers who turn up every day, who return to the trenches to fight another type of war, an unseen war, where the victims lay psychologically and emotionally maimed.
They are the forgotten soldiers who work tirelessly, yet only receive an income on rent collected. So, while rental revenue plummets they, too, are in danger of losing their jobs.
Who then shall then defend the meek?
Who then shall hear their cries of pain?
Who then shall negotiate their suffering?
I think it’s time we remembered these forgotten soldiers, who I dub the Knights of Property Management – the servicemen and women of the Real Estate industry.
I say that we give a huge shout out of thanks to all Property Managers who expose themselves daily to a different kind of risk, like our health workers, are also forced to endure long working hours, psychological distress, fatigue, occupational burnout, stigma, and psychological violence.
For without them, our tenants and landlords have no representation.
Dear Property Manager,
You probably already know that rental regulations around Australia will be changing in 2020. The specifics and timings differ across the states and territories, but key changes being implemented include giving tenants more control over their environment such as fewer restrictions on keeping pets.
We wanted to reassure you and the landlords you look after that Aon’s Landlord Insurance includes damage by pets to building and contents, flood and clean-up costs associated with illegal drug production(*). Optional cover is available for(*):
- Loss of rent
- Damage or theft of contents by tenants
- Liability cover
For more information about Aon’s Landlord Insurance, give us a call on 1800 105 590 or visit aon.com.au/agentsportal.
*Subject to full policy terms, conditions and exclusions.
Adrian Schrinner, Lord Mayor of Brisbane, discusses what the Brisbane City Council is doing to make sure residents remain safe amid the #coronavirus outbreak.
Transportation and commuting
The Council has initiated new safety measures on Brisbane buses, ferries and CityCats, including payment by Go Card only as well as rear-door boarding on Brisbane buses to protect passengers and drivers from Coronavirus.
Nightly sanitisation of Council’s entire fleet is ongoing to allow residents to travel with confidence.
Residents who are moving around Brisbane on buses are urged to do so with caution by following social distancing rules.
Council is no longer allowing people to sit in the front passenger seat next to the driver.
For pedestrians, the Council has also programmed hundreds of inner-city traf-fic signals to run automatically 24/7, so people don’t have to press the button to get a green light.
If you, a loved one, or a local business are struggling to pay Council rates on time, please speak to the Council. There are several ways it might be able to assist you during this difficult time. The Council is here to help where it can those who are experiencing genuine hardship. There is no way of knowing how long or how far this crisis will extend.
The Council has asked parking inspectors to show leniency at this time and only issue warnings unless there is a serious safety issue.
Changes to Council facilities, events and services will continue to be reported to its website, (www.brisbane.qld.gov.au). You can also discuss Council assistance options by calling 3403-8888.
For the most up to date health advice, visit health.gov.au or call the Common-wealth Government Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080.
Karen Herbert has an important message for our residents around the impact of COVID-19
In this turbulent times, we want to reach out to our residents to let you know that we are here. It is currently still business as usual here at Arrive.
We are uncertain about what the future looks like. We put measures in place to be able to manage your property effectively whether it be here or remotely.
To minimise the risks, we have cancelled all routine inspections until further notice. But we urge you to still let us know of any maintenance issues preferably via the tenant app.
We will continue to lease properties until such time when we are told we simply cannot. And of course, we’ve got sanitising methods in place to protect all parties concerned.
We understand that the pandemic brings with it a range of impacts on all of us, and we recognise that some of you may be financially impacted. If you are experiencing any difficulty in paying rent, we ask you to contact us to discuss support options that we have in place.
If you are, however, unfortunately affected and have lost your job, we ask you to go directly to the Australian government website where there are lots of information on how you can get financial assistance.
Of course, we are aware of the toilet paper situation, or the lack of it, and we do ask you to be very mindful and not flush anything down the toilet aside from toilet paper as this will have blockage issues.
And finally during this unprecedented time, we ask you to remember your neighbours, call your family members, and remember to be compassionate, and make sure everybody is okay. This will pass and we will prosper, and in the meantime, stay safe, everyone!
Pigeons and other birds will shelter and nest under solar panels. They are attracted to sheltered places to get protection from the sun whilst having a high place to perch and then will use the space under the panels to build a nest.
Regular visits from birds create a mess on top of the panels, reducing their efficiency. However a more serious issue is the accumulation of nesting material and droppings underneath the panels.
Their droppings are corrosive. There is also a serious risk of increased electrolysis between different metals: the aluminium solar panels, stainless steel bolts and the metal of the roof sheeting. This occurs because the debris retains moisture and also forms a bridge that can bypass the insulators and fittings that are installed to prevent electrolysis.
On both metal and tiled roofs, the accumulated nest debris and droppings will also attract insects such as beetles and cockroaches to breed on your roof (and then enter the house). Eventually gutters and drains will be blocked and corroded, allowing water to leak and overflow from the gutters.
If birds on solar panels are allowed to successfully rear their young, even more birds will come back to the same building in the following breeding season.
Possum Proofing Solar Panels
Possums view solar panels as excellent areas to shelter and will often nest underneath. They are attracted to the panels as they provide a safe, sheltered location and will happily live and nest in such places on top of the roof. Unfortunately they are guaranteed to make a mess under the panels and can often chew the wires leading to safety hazards for your family and expensive repair bills.
A pest control specialist will use a reliable, quality proofing method of excluding the possums from under the panels. This proofing product is stainless steel black UV coated wire mesh with UV stable nylon retainer hooks and washers. It clips onto the panels so you can remove a section for servicing if required, and it does not screw into the panels so does not void your panel warranty. This product also allows excellent water and airflow under the panels to avoid heat build-up.
Possum nests will be removed before the mesh is fitted and if there is significant mess created by possums or birds. Pest controllers will usually provide a quote to pressure wash the roof before the solar panel proofing is installed.
How Pest Control Specialists Can Help
Overall it is better to be pro-active: exclude the birds and possums from getting under the panels and reduce the tendency for them to stay on your roof. Hire a team of people experienced in proofing solar panels to get rid of pigeons and possums using their proven proofing product. In the longer run it is much cheaper to exclude the unwanted visitors as that reduces future maintenance costs and ensures that the efficiency of power conversion from the sun is not reduced.
Experienced, registered pest controllers will be able to combine this solar panel proofing with legal chemical treatments to get rid of pigeons and reduce the bird numbers, if needed.
***If you are a tenant, you need the owner’s permission to conduct any proofing work at the property, as it is structural work on the house. Make sure the owner is aware of the issue and they request the inspection from the pest controller directly.
1. Doing too many inspections in a day
Routine inspections can be tiring. Once you’ve done a few in a day, this can result in corners being cut and shortcuts taken. Understand your personal energy levels and be realistic about your limit. Keep the number of inspections that you conduct in a row at a level that works for you. If you get tired quickly, adjust your schedule so you’re not doing a whole day of them in a row.
2. Beware the ‘desk’ inspection attitude!
Too many property managers trade thoroughness for complacency just to get through as quickly as possible and don’t access all rooms inside and all areas outside. This is a prime opportunity to look out for issues like unauthorised pets, suspicious warning signs and concerning repair and damage issues.
Once this habit begins, it is likely to become permanent until a situation blows up when something obvious gets missed. Where does this attitude end? The slippery slope of human nature kicks in.
This becomes the ‘Kitchen Inspection,’ where we walk into the kitchen and say “Well, it’s a waste of time me being here,” and walk out. This then turns into the ‘Front Door Inspection’ (knock, ask for the repair request form, thank the tenant and leave), then to the ‘Kerb-side Inspection’ (park, look and drive off), to the ‘Drive-by Inspection’ (you don’t even stop) and then to the most lazy and negligent inspection of all – the ‘Desk Inspection!’
It happens, I’ve seen this occur too many times! Don’t let it happen to you.
3. Not referring to the ingoing condition report or photos
The property needs to be maintained as it was found (less fair wear and tear) and how can you check this properly without referring to the ingoing condition report and photos?
It is easy to check the outside by looking at the initial inspection photos first. Referring to previous inspections on an iPad makes this process so much easier these days, or simply take the file with you to check the photos on record.
4. Not referring to or being aware of special conditions
When you conduct an inspection without being aware if the property is ‘no pets’, or ‘garage is not for tenant use’ or some other special tenancy condition specific to that property, issues can be overlooked and missed that will blow up later.
This can typically happen when the inspecting property manager is relieving or is a replacement property manager not making themselves aware of the special conditions set at tenancy start.
There’s nothing more incompetent than a property manager complimenting a tenant on their dog when they were not even aware it should not have been there in the first place!
5. Not following up on reported repairs
How many property managers get the sense of ‘deja vu’ at inspections, having reported the very same issue three months before but nothing got done?
When an owner gets an email (with all the other hundreds of emails they get) it can quickly get overlooked. Call the owner several days after the inspection to discuss what should be done and get their instructions.
Using ‘screen recording’ to create a video message from your computer recording what you say and see, and send it to them as a link they can watch (like a YouTube clip, but kept private). See screencast-o-matic.com for this easy-to-use, cheap software.
6. Not inspecting typical outside issues
When the average property manager spends only 20 minutes at a routine inspection, things like eaves, facias, outside sills, guttering/drop pipes, flyscreens and ridge capping don’t even warrant a glimpse.
If you have no time for this, or you say ‘that’s not my job’ you need to ensure you’ve arranged for a tradesperson to go to the property for a repairs and maintenance inspection every 6-12 months. If you don’t, this issue WILL come back and bite you!
7. Not thanking the tenant
Imagine this: the tenant is given notice of inspection and then spends hours and hours cleaning the home and making sure the outside is perfect. As they work during the day, they’re unable to attend the inspection.
The property manager attends, likes what they see and lets the owner know everything is presented really well with NO FEEDBACK to the tenant left in writing or otherwise?
Heard that one before? You now run the risk of the tenant developing a bad attitude towards you and you’re wondering why they’re a little ‘brief’ with you next time you see them.
Give credit where credit is due and thank your good tenants at EVERY opportunity. They make your life that bit easier. Make sure you’re thankful for that!
8. Not giving written feedback to the tenant
Too many property managers leave no written feedback as to how the tenant has performed, good or otherwise. If you do leave a note, make sure you take a photo or picture as a record and place it on file.
9. Not addressing tenant damage or issues
When you’ve noticed tenant damage, don’t ignore it. Present the issue to the tenant. Leaving or ignoring it will come back and bite you later on if the issue goes to tribunal or court later on. The fact that it was overlooked or ignored and not addressed at that inspection could be the very reason why the tenant wasn’t held responsible for it.
10. Not booking in geographic clusters
When you book in an inspection based on the date (for example 6 weeks after or 3 months after the tenancy start) then you might be spending too much time on the road.
Make sure you book all your inspections as close together geographically, to totally minimise drive time between inspections so you can get the maximum number done. The first inspection might not be exactly in line with your traditional time frames but as long as your promise to owners doesn’t stipulate these time frames exactly, then you can fit them in when you’re doing that area next.
11. Booking in too many inspections
Ever set aside a two or three-hour time block for inspections only to find that you’ve tried to fit too many in or another person has scheduled too many for you?
The number that you can do depends on location, size and structure (2 bedroom apartment as opposed to a 4 bedroom house with a yard/garage), but a good rule to follow is how many can you easily get done in the time slot given, without rushing and compromising on quality and thoroughness, taking into account any properties you need to spend more time at due to unforeseen issues arising that require more attention and inspecting.
12. Not accessing all areas
When a tenant says “sorry, you can’t access the third bedroom because…” or “the garage is locked and my boyfriend has the key and he’s away at the moment” then you need to reschedule and come back to inspect that room or area. Tenants don’t always tell the truth (shock horror!) and they could be disallowing access for devious reasons. Naturally, never walk into a situation that could result in your safety being compromised. Perhaps bring a second person with you next time to look at that area or room if required.
Another tip is to explain at tenant sign-up and have it as a special condition that the tenant is aware that all rooms and areas will be accessed at the inspection, so they’re on notice right from the start.
13. Not ensuring your gadgets are powered up
Ensure that your camera, smart-phone, iPad and other gadgets are adequately charged up for your inspections. A good property manager is prepared at all times.
14. Not re-confirming the inspection beforehand
Just because you’ve advised the tenant that you’re coming with an official notice, you cannot assume that they always remember or that every tenant is aware of the times and dates of inspections at the property.
Send an SMS text a couple of days before to everyone on the lease reminding them of the day and time that you will be there, and even a link to download your checklist again.
15. Being ‘too heavy-handed’
Don’t go on a power trip!
The tenant only needs to keep the property ‘reasonably clean’ and it’s not an army boot camp where everything has to be scrubbed with a toothbrush and shine.
If the house is untidy but generally clean it’s OK, and if the morning dishes are not done or the beds not made don’t trip out. If something is dirty and can affect the rental property in any way then address it with the tenant.
One of the best lines a tenant applying for a property with me once said, “I asked my last property manager how presentable the property should be for a routine inspection, and she replied ‘Just imagine the Queen is coming around!’”. Fail!
16. Sending out an untrained person to do the inspection
Why send a person to do a routine inspection when they’ve received no training in this task? This means that big issues will be missed and poor tenant performance will get overlooked. Recipe for a disaster in the making!
17. Overlooking poor tenant performance
If the carpets are dirty, the walls grubby and other areas unacceptable, don’t think “We can address this when the tenant leaves”. When the tenant vacates, their bond may already be taken up with overdue rent, so you may not even have a bond to use.
Here are a couple of sayings that have stuck with me – ‘If the tenant absconded tomorrow, what will they leave for me to clean up today?’ and ‘Poor routine inspection today, poor vacate inspection tomorrow’. If it isn’t up to scratch, address it today!
18. Not ensuring your keys are up to date
When the tenant is not home and you’re allowed to access the property but you cannot because you haven’t updated the keys or kept a check on them. Big waste of time.
19. Not taking adequate photos
We need to be careful here because no tribunal/court in Australia will be happy with you taking photos of tenant belongings but you can still take photos of the grounds front and back, any repairs required and also other issues and concerns. Your owners want to see not just read what’s going on. Take photos and don’t leave your clients guessing!
20. Not respecting the tenant’s home
Let’s face it, tenants are still treated as second-class citizens in property management (in general). It really hasn’t changed.
It’s not just a rental property to them and it’s definitely not an investment or a money maker. To the tenant, it’s their home, their safe place for them and their family.
Treat them with the respect they deserve, don’t blow them off. Attend to their queries and concerns promptly. The tenant is your partner in the rental property and without them, you don’t have a job!