How Much Do You Know About Tenancy Laws?

More people than ever these days are living in rental properties, so tenants need to understand their rights and responsibilities. The Residential Tenancies Act is the legislation governing tenancies, but the issues most often reported are ending a lease before the time is up, who pays for maintenance and repairs, getting behind in the rent, tenants’ right to privacy and getting the bond back when the tenancy is over.

Reputable Property Managers do the Right Thing

If you are a first-time tenant looking to rent a property, using a reputable agency like Bunbury Real Estate is your best chance for a hassle-free tenancy. As property managers, we observe all laws, from the day you lodge your application to the end of your tenancy. Many tenant problems arise when the property is rented directly from lessors, who may have their own interpretation of the law.

Breaking a Lease

Sometimes tenants find themselves in situations where they need to leave their rental property before the lease is up. If you have signed a fixed term lease, you could be liable for compensation to the lessor if you break the lease. There are processes to be followed so get advice from a property management agency like ours before you act.

Who Pays for Repairs?

A rental property should be in a reasonable state of cleanliness and repair before you move in. The tenant is responsible for keeping it clean and advising the lessor if any damage occurs. If intentional or negligent damage is caused by you or a guest, you are liable for the cost of repairs. However, you are not responsible for repairing the normal deterioration that takes place in any property.

Getting Behind in the Rent

Sometimes, even the best tenants get behind in the rent through unemployment or other circumstances. You must notify the lessor immediately to avoid your lease being terminated. However, the lessor cannot just evict you without following some legal processes. You may be able to negotiate a payment plan to bring your rent back on track.

Tenants Have Privacy Rights

As a tenant, you have the right to privacy, so the lessor cannot drop in unexpectedly to check the property. The correct notice period must be given to the tenant and this includes instances where tradespeople need to do work, and if the property is being showed to prospective buyers.

Getting Your Bond Back

For tenants who leave the property in good condition, getting their bond back is a major concern, especially if the lessor tries to claim it without sufficient reason. Be assured that the bond money can only be disposed of by consent or court order, all of which involve legal processes.

For peace of mind, select your rental property through an agency such as ours, and leave all the legal issues to us.

Key Attributes Of A Good Tenant

Many people are now making a conscious choice to rent rather than buy, so it is more important than ever for prospective tenants to have a good reputation. The competition for desirable properties is intense, with renters reporting that there are many others putting in applications to secure the same property.

How to Stand Out from the Crowd

With owners and property managers being able to pick and choose, what are the attributes that a tenant needs to secure the property of their dreams? While paying your rent on time is the obvious and most important one, there are others that will identify you as an ideal tenant when you present your landlord reference to the next property manager.

Did you know, for example, that the relationship you build with your property manager is one of the most important you can foster? How do we know this? At Bunbury Real Estate, our property managers go out of their way to make life easy for both tenants and owners, so when a tenant returns the favour, they don’t forget.

Take Care of Your Rental and Keep it Tidy

It really is as easy as taking the same care with your rental as you would if you owned it. If you live in a free-standing home, keep the yard and footpath mowed and the gardens tidy. In a unit or apartment complex, help to keep the common areas tidy and other people who live there will appreciate your efforts, whilst you will make some great friends.

Report Breakages Truthfully

Don’t intentionally damage the property, and if you break something accidentally, report the damage and the circumstances immediately. This helps the property manager to arrange better repairs and services and gives the owner the chance to claim on insurance.

Don’t Authorise Repairs – Leave it to Your Property Manager

If there is a Repairs Policy at your agency, make sure you know what it entails. Report any breakdowns or needed repairs, then follow the process in the policy. You should not spend your own money or authorise repairs or alterations without approval. Sometimes things may seem to take too long but be patient and keep in touch with your property manager.

Enjoy your Rental While Respecting the Rights of Others

Respect the rights of your neighbours to peace and quiet, especially if you have parties or regular guests who may create excessive noise or cause parking problems. These days, many people work irregular hours. Check in with others to make sure you are not imposing on their rights.

Protect Your Hard-Won Reputation

If you abide by all the terms of your rental agreement, you will soon be the most desired tenant at your agency. Also, when you want to move on, that good reputation will be your best friend.

Solutions For The Nervous Property Investor

If you have just purchased your first investment property, the chances are that you may be daydreaming about your second or third and imagining yourself ten years down the track as a multi-millionaire property magnate. Before you get too far ahead of yourself, however, there are still some important decisions to be made if you wish to get the most value out of this new venture of yours.

Get This Wrong and it Costs you a Bundle

One decision you will be confronted with almost immediately is where to find a reliable tenant, and if you get this decision wrong, you could find yourself thousands of dollars out of pocket. The media is filled with stories of tenants wilfully causing property damage and not paying the rent. Delays in the legal process can allow lawfully evicted tenants to remain in the property for weeks or even months, placing an enormous financial burden on the owners, who must still pay the mortgage even though there is no income to offset it.

Professional Property Management is the Solution

Investors should not despair, however, as there is a solution. Professional property management by a reputable agency is not expensive, and their experienced team takes all possible steps to ensure that only reliable tenants are placed in client properties.

Take our agency, Bunbury Real Estate, as a typical example. We have been finding tenants for our clients’ properties for some time, and now have a reputation in the industry for delivering a “hassle free” service. If you are unsure if the rent you are expecting for your property is market value, we offer a free appraisal, giving you a realistic figure by comparing your property with others like yours in the target area.

Proven Management Systems

Once we become your property manager, we go to work using our proven management systems to select the best tenant. Typical steps are to check our database of already qualified prospective tenants for those that suit your property. If the best prospect is someone new to our agency, we then follow our selection process to ensure that the person meets our criteria.

Reference, Credit and ID Checks Essential

We always check references given by previous landlords, ask for identification and evidence of employment, as well as perform a routine credit check to ensure there are no outstanding credit issues. Once the tenant has passed our selection process, we make sure that all the required legal documents are correctly completed and lodged with the appropriate authorities.

If you want your property investment to keep earning with minimal involvement by you, getting a professional agency like ours to do the work for you is the obvious choice.

A Smooth Tenancy Starts With The Right Tenants

Ownership of residential rental properties is a method favoured by many Australians, especially those with self-managed superannuation funds, to build investment portfolios. The secret to keeping these properties earning income is to keep them occupied by tenants who look after their rentals and pay the rent on time, every time.

 

Good Tenants Prevent Income and Property Loss for Owners

 

Owners whose properties are unoccupied for extended periods of time lose rental income, and their assets are at an increased risk of being vandalised. If this happens, they must pay for the repairs and face increased insurance premiums, which add to the cost of holding the property.

 

The best way to prevent this is to choose tenants carefully, and at Bunbury Real Estate, our rigorous process enables us to put forward quality tenants for the properties we manage on behalf of our owner clients. When a property is advertised for tenancy, we certainly don’t take the first applicant who comes along. There are several checks we do first before any decisions are made.

 

Background Checks of all Rental Applicants are Standard Practice

 

The most obvious check is that the tenant has the capacity to pay the rent. This is a similar process to taking out a loan in that we check their employment and credit status to identify any areas where there could be financial stress. We also ask for references from former rental agents or owners where the tenant has already established a relationship.

 

Some of our rental property owners accept the presence of pets, and it is becoming more popular for tenants who have pets to also present references on behalf of their furry family members. Well-trained pets are often better behaved than some humans, and we have owners who acknowledge and accept that.

 

Diligent Property Managers Identify Issues Early

 

Our property managers also like to establish a personal relationship with our tenants, where possible. Regular property inspections are an opportunity to identify issues that could become problems if they are not dealt with quickly. It could be something as simple as asking for the yard to be tidied if it looks a little unruly, to working with a good tenant who may be temporarily in arrears.

 

Matching Tenants with Their Ideal Dwelling is Important

 

Choosing the right tenant also involves matching an applicant with the type of dwelling that suits their needs. A good tenant is more likely to stay long term when they are living in their ideal location, in the type of property they were seeking. There will always be management problems if the tenant and the dwelling are not suited to each other.

 

Our professional property managers have many years of experience at keeping our properties tenanted with good people who turn a vacant dwelling into a home.

Helpful Hints To Getting The Right Agent For Your Property

When you are looking for an agent to sell your property, or to find you a suitable place to buy or rent, choosing the right agent for your needs can be a bit like buying a lottery ticket. There is usually more than one real estate agency with an office in the local area, as well as multiple agencies dipping their toes in the market via the internet. How can you possibly sort through all the possibilities and choose the right one for you?

 

Professional Industry Body Generates Confidence

 

Fortunately, there is a solution. The Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA) is the peak body for all real estate professionals in the state. This member-owned organisation was established in 1918 and today it represents over 90% of the agencies operating in Western Australia. When you choose a member agency, there are protections and benefits that come with that choice.

 

As a member organisation of REIWA, we offer our clients a superlative level of service, specialist employees who work together as a team and in-depth knowledge of the local market. When you choose Bunbury Real Estate, you get the benefit of our membership and all that it entails.

 

Member Benefits – Access to Latest Market Information

 

Firstly, we have access to the latest market information and sales statistics. You can be confident that when we do an appraisal of your property and suggest a pricing structure, we are using up-to-date figures. This allows you to get the best possible price for your property relative to its style, condition and location.

 

Standardised Contract and Settlement Documentation

 

Secondly, the contracts and other documentation we use when we act for a client are all owned and controlled by the REIWA. This means your transaction is being conducted using industry-standard documents that have been thoroughly checked by legal experts, so there should be no complications during the sales process.

 

Ongoing Staff Training Keeps Agents Up-to-Date

 

Further benefits to clients are that our staff members are required to update their education continually through various training programs, so that we can provide you with better advice and service. For example, our agents would be expected to ask questions about things such as easements, access to private lanes, the existence of resumption notices and other issues. They are also up-to-date with legislative changes.

 

Maximum Exposure on the Web

 

We also list properties on the REIWA website as well as our own, giving our clients maximum exposure to interested buyers. To get the best possible result for your property, choose an agent that is an REIWA member and also who also has a presence in your area of interest. The combination of professional knowledge and ethics, as well as local detail, gives you the best chance for a top result.

Confused About What Is Important When Inspecting Property?

If you are getting serious about buying property, you will be checking the internet for something in your price range, and considering the locations that best suit your needs. You may even have attended a few open homes and with many of them now staged to sell by professionals, you have come away confused about what is more important, the styling or the structure itself.

Don’t Be Fooled by Clever Styling

While styling will show a prospective buyer how to place their own furniture and accessories for maximum impact, it will not alert you to some of the more important and expensive issues you could overlook. A clever stylist knows how to draw the eye away from the least attractive parts of the property, so it is important to be aware of some of the potential pitfalls.

ID May Be Needed to Access an Open Home

Be prepared when attending an open home to provide identification. This is a security measure and many of our sellers ask us to do this. When we advertise open home inspections, we have a responsibility to the owners to take care of their property and possessions. At Bunbury Real Estate we take this seriously.

Be Practical – Look for Faults

If the property’s street appeal, overall size, number of rooms, amenities and car accommodation are what you are looking for, now is the time to be practical and look for obvious faults. Water leaks, for example, can be hard to spot, so check the cabinets in the wet areas for the smell of damp, or any signs of mould.

Unexpected Repairs Spoil the Enjoyment of the New Property

Bathroom and bedroom walls are another area where mould can build up, and often this just looks like a smudge on the paint work. Excessive mould should be cleaned professionally and the original cause investigated. It could be something that will need expensive repairs you were not expecting.

Check for sloping or bouncy floors that may mean stumps need replacing, and blisters or bubbles on paintwork that could indicate the presence of termites. Cracked walls may be evidence of subsidence. Building and pest inspections by experts will usually reveal the full extent of any rectification needed.

We sometimes have circumstances where a buyer is still keen on the property, and the seller is willing to adjust the price down to take account of repair costs.

Check the Location for Flood or Fire Risk

Be aware that even though the property and the location may look perfect now, it could be in a major flood area or even be a bushfire risk in the right climatic conditions. Buying property is a major financial commitment, so it is worth taking the time to check everything before deciding.

Real Estate Stories – Fact or Fiction

Whether you are a buyer, seller or renter, it seems that everyone has an opinion about real estate. As a result, there are more myths attached to the real estate industry than Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza. Are they doorways to an alternative universe or evidence of alien visitations? We can’t answer those questions, but we do know that many real estate myths are easily busted with some reliable information.

I Don’t Need an Agent – I Have the Internet

One myth created by the internet is that you don’t need an agent to sell your home. Listing your property on the internet is easy, but the agent’s role is more complex than uploading a photo of your house. The agent is the property market expert for your location. Agents know which properties have changed hands for what price, how long each property was on the market before it sold, and what buyers are looking for in the area.

This information is critical for the seller, especially one who has an inflated price expectation. At Bunbury Real Estate, our agents advise clients on realistic prices that will attract buyers so their properties will sell in the average time for that location. We also supervise inspections, keep contact details of who attended and they negotiate the best price and settlement terms for our client, the seller.

Why Pay for Print Advertising? It’s all Online These Days

Online advertising costs little and reaches a huge audience, but in real estate, this is not as effective as it first seems. Firstly, online searches are very specific, so if buyers don’t filter searches correctly, your property will be competing against thousands of irrelevant searches. Secondly, in most housing markets, the majority of buyers are locals. Advertising in the local newspaper is worth the cost. In fact, only 27% of buyers look exclusively online, while 59% of buyers use both print and online to find their perfect property.

Before-sale Renovations Will Make our Property More Valuable

This is a very common misconception. Renovations may increase the value, but only if the seller does some research first. Get a realistic value of the property as it is, then work out what renovations will cost. Add the two together and then ask your agent if the new price is within market expectations.

Things like tidying, rubbish removal and maintenance will not usually get you any more money but they improve the presentation. Electrical, plumbing and structural changes must be done by experts and many buyers will expect to see the paperwork, so do-it-yourself could cost you a sale.

These are just a few of the common myths we regularly face as selling agents. There are many more, so if you are unsure about anything you have heard, just ask us.

How to Avoid Landlord Hassles

We have all heard “bad tenant” horror stories of unpaid rent, wanton property damage, civil disturbance and a legal system that appears to favour tenants, however badly they behave. The due process needed to legally evict such tenants takes so long that by the time they have left, many rental properties are unliveable and their owners are thousands of dollars out of pocket.

Rogue Landlords Just as Much a Problem as Irresponsible Tenants

Not as well publicised but still a problem for genuine tenants, who abide by the terms of their rental agreements, are rogue landlords. Not content to allow their tenants “quiet enjoyment” of their dwelling, the busy-body landlord is constantly interfering in their lives. Unscheduled inspections, illegal entry, banning visitors and refusing to carry out repairs are just some of the problems experienced with difficult landlords.

No Concept of Quiet Enjoyment

These types of landlords cannot distance themselves from their rental property even though they have good tenants. Obsessive behaviour traits include parking outside the property at all hours, driving past several times a week or dropping in unannounced on a pretext. They are unwilling or unable to leave their tenants in reasonable peace, comfort and privacy, which are key aspects of quiet enjoyment, a legal term referred to in the Residential Tenancies Act.

Making Life Difficult for Good Tenants

Equally difficult are the landlords who don’t provide receipts for rental payments, or break an agreed term of the tenancy agreement. The most common example of this is giving permission for the tenant to keep a cat or dog at the premises, and then subsequently objecting once the tenant has moved in. Another example is fencing off part of the yard so the tenant cannot use it, even though they are paying for the use of the whole property.

Self-Managing can be Trouble for Tenants

For anyone looking for a rental property, these stories must seem frightening. To be fair, we must point out that these things are more likely to happen to tenants renting from owners who are self-managing their properties. Many of these owners do not have the full understanding or knowledge of the tenancy laws, or they choose to ignore them.

Use a Property Management Agency and Avoid all the Hassles

The best way to find a good landlord and a rental property that meets your needs is to use a property management agency like ours. The staff members at Bunbury Real Estate are experienced at looking after the interests of both our property owners and prospective tenants. Our rental systems address all the legal requirements, so when you sign a tenancy agreement with us, you can be assured that your rights are protected.

Housing Market Recovery Attracts Buyers

As we are now halfway through 2017, the real estate picture in Western Australia is becoming much clearer. The experts are touting this as a transition year for the state, with most of the past reductions in housing prices now behind us. From an overall point of view, investors priced out of the market in the eastern states are looking here for opportunities. At the same time, local buyers are returning as confidence in the general economy also returns.

Low Prices Will Not Be Around Forever

If you have been sitting back looking at the market and wondering if you should step in or stay out, those who know the market well are advising to buy now, as prices will not stay at these levels for much longer. Whether you are a looking for a home to live in or for an investment property, the advice is to look for areas close to schools, transport, shopping and employment to get the best value for money.

Take Advantage of Incentives – They Won’t Be Around Forever

Prices are still low so housing is more affordable and interest rates remain at record lows. The First Home Owners Grant has been increased until the end of the year, and the income threshold for low deposit home loans has also increased, making it easier for first time buyers to enter the market.

Our Advice for First Home Buyers

This is all good news from our point of view as real estate agents. Here at Bunbury Real Estate we have done our best to assist our clients during the difficult times, and we are looking forward to doing the same in what we hope is a long-running, rising market. However, we do have some words of advice for new players, especially those looking for their first home to occupy.

While you are right to study the market in order to understand how it works, it is not the only thing you should be considering. If you were priced out of buying your dream home, but now it is within reach, there will be a certain amount of emotion involved in this search.

Be Clear About Why You Are Buying

Buying a home and buying an investment property are two different types of decisions. The investment property is a considered, calculated move to build wealth, while buying a home is putting down roots, establishing yourself in stable employment and perhaps preparing to start a family. It has a permanence about it that will most likely influence the type of property you are looking for.

Most people in the real estate industry believe that this is the right time to buy. With this opinion supported by market data, you should be asking, not about the market, but why are you buying? Once this is clear to you, we can help you find the right property for your needs.

Don’t Let Your Unoccupied Property Drain Your Finances

If you have one or more investment properties, it is vital that you keep the vacancy rates as low as possible, given the locations and local market conditions. An unoccupied property is a drain on the financial resources of the owner, is more likely to be vandalised and becomes an insurance issue after a specified period.

Getting a Property Leased Quickly Needs Several Approaches

Finding quality tenants quickly in any kind of market is not something that can be achieved with only one strategy. It takes a concerted effort using several different approaches that, when combined, gives the owner the best possible chance of securing a long-term lease.

When we manage a property on behalf of a client, this is the approach we take. At Bunbury Real Estate we use current rental data to keep in touch with the local market and the latest marketing techniques to advertise our properties. We also keep our property owners up to date so their rental price expectations match the market conditions.

Use Accurate Data and Set Firm Targets

This means rental appraisals must be accurate. Data that is months old is not a true reflection of what is happening now. If, for example, the market is slowing down, we need to be advising our clients on current data, or they will be expecting a rental price that was achievable six months ago, but not now.

Getting a property occupied quickly also means setting targets and acting on them. The number of enquiries within the first couple of days the property is advertised is a reliable indicator of how much work will be required to get it leased. If there is little or no interest and we know the property is overpriced, we request a rent reduction from the owner. This usually brings in enough tenants for us to reference check and recommend.

Advertise Any Changes

This brings us to the next important change. There is little advantage in reducing the rent if we don’t advertise it. People who are watching the property but have not enquired may respond to this drop, so featuring it in our major advertising is critical.

Long Gaps Between Leases is a Cost

Our most important strategy is the relationship we have with the property owner. This includes giving good advice and finding reputable tenants. When an owner is reluctant to reduce the rental price, we remind them that every day the property is vacant is a cost to them. An extra $10 or $20 a week will be eaten up in costs if the property is not quickly leased.

If you are self-managing your investment property and losing money between leases, give us a call. We will use our knowledge to get your property leased quickly for the best price in any kind of market.