What To Do When Tenants Vacate And Leave Their Possessions Behind

Currently in Australia, around 35% of households are rentals. Most of the people in these rentals observe the conditions of their rental agreements, paying their rent on time and treating the properties with respect. Of the small proportion that do not, some simply abandon their rental and their possessions, often leaving no forwarding details.

Breaking the News to the Owners

These actions create a significant problem for the rental agents. First, they have to advise the property owner that the tenant has gone, possibly owing rent. Then they have to explain that, by leaving their possessions behind, the property must remain vacant until due process has taken place.

Fortunately, at our agency, this does not happen often, as our tenant selection process is quite rigorous and includes employment and reference checks. However, after all our years at Bunbury Real Estate we expect the unexpected and have procedures in place to deal with these situations.

In Western Australia, there is a legal process that must be followed to clear the property for the next tenants. The first move is easy, as we are permitted to dispose of perishable foodstuffs within two days. After that, it gets a little more complicated.

State Government Certificates and Official Notices Required

We then assess the estimated value of the remainder to separate them into “goods of little or no value” and “goods of value”. For the former, we apply to the state government for an Abandoned Goods Certificate. This protects us from any claims by the tenants should they return to collect their possessions. We must give the department the details of the tenants and the property, as well as an itemised list and colour photographs. We then wait for official notice that we can dispose of the property.

Agents Required to Safely Store Goods of Value

For goods of value, and important documents, we must immediately arrange to store them in a safe place and manner for at least 60 days. Using the appropriate departmental forms, we must notify the tenant at their last known contact address of our intent concerning their property. We must also advertise this intention in a state wide newspaper. This allows someone with a legal right to the goods to collect them within 60 days.

Auction of Unclaimed Goods Permitted after Due Process

If the goods are not claimed within 60 days, we have the legal right to sell them on auction, and recover any removal, storage and sale costs. We then pay any balance through the Magistrates Court to the Rental Accommodation Fund, discharging our liability. If we are owed back rent or damages from the tenancy, we can make a claim from this deposit.

This process is fair to everyone, including the property owner, who can have the property tenanted again after 60 days. No agent can just seize abandoned property as compensation. This legal process protects everyone involved, and any ongoing disputes are settled in court.

Clean Up Your Property For The Best Sale Price

Every property owner wants the best price possible when they list their home for sale. The properties that sell the quickest for the best price usually have something about them that makes them stand out. A great position, extra space, special features, proximity to transport and employment, and a property that is immediately liveable are the attributes most sought after by buyers.

It is the last attribute that seems to escape the notice of some sellers. As property agents ourselves, we are constantly amazed at the state of some properties we are asked to list for sale. While we understand that everyone has the right to live in their home the way they want to, there are some things that should be done before they ask our staff at Bunbury Real Estate to present it for inspection.

Easy Changes Have the Most Impact

Often the changes needed to get the best price are the easiest to do, so we offer some suggestions for sellers who need a bit of guidance. The first thing to do is increase the street appeal. Mow the yard, weed the gardens, clean the paths and driveways with a pressure hose, trim trees and shrubs that overhang or obstruct the front of the house.

A Clean Exterior and Some Minor Repairs Work Wonders

Now that the house can be seen clearly from the road, does it need cleaning? Wash the walls and windows, clear out the gutters, do minor repairs such as replacing damaged insect screens, broken steps or unstable hand rails. If it still looks shabby, a coat of paint in a modern colour scheme will have buyers stopping at the front gate to look further instead of just driving by.

The “Wow” Factor for the Interior

Now to create a “wow” factor once they get through the front door. This means starting with clean floors, walls and windows. Again, paint is the cheapest way to improve the interior of a dwelling. It covers the stains that won’t wash off, and by using the latest light reflecting colours, any rooms that need extra light will immediately get a lift.

Replace Anything Worn, Torn or Shabby

If the floor coverings are stained or ripped, replace them. Dirty, shabby or faded curtains should be taken down and disposed of. Replace them with the latest blinds. There are so many different styles now available that even the humble roller blind will be an improvement on old curtains.

Kitchen and Bathroom – A Quick Respray

Kitchens and bathrooms are more expensive to rework, but replacing old kitchen appliances with new stainless steel ones has an immediate impact. If money is an issue, respraying the cabinets, bench tops, tiles and bathroom fixtures, and installing new tap wear may be enough to finish off the upgrade.

Neat, clean, tidy, no pests or unpleasant smells, no rubbish in the yard – that is all it takes to get the best price.

Tenants – Accidental Damage And How To Deal With It

All of us through life at one time or another are going to break or cause something to break. It is not intentional. There are certainly going to be times in a tenanted property’s life when it is going to suffer a few bumps and bruises.

The important thing, just like any damage such as storm damage, is to deal with it quickly.

Bunbury Real Estate adhere to the guidelines set down by the Residential Tenancies Authority, commonly known as the RTA.

Who Is Responsible for Arranging Repairs

We, as the agent in our managed tenancies, are responsible for the arrangement of any repairs being carried out. Only with our written permission should a tenant attempt to carry out or arrange any repairs themselves.

If the damage exceeds a certain value it may be possible to claim the repair bill on insurance. This will obviously still incur some sort of excess which will need to be paid. Whoever is deemed responsible for a given event must carry out these repairs within a reasonable time.

If either party deems this time has lapsed they may issue a Notice to Remedy Breach (Form 11)__ _which allows 7 days for the work to be completed. If the matter is still not resolved, it is advisable for both parties to come together to discuss the issue. If the issue remains unresolved, you may apply for a _Dispute Resolution.

Obviously, this last paragraph relates to extreme cases only and it is not considered a normal or regular situation within our ranks. During this time we honour and respect the Rules of Entry_ _although in extreme cases a tenant is more than happy to allow our repairers to be admitted.

What is Accidental Damage?

To make things crystal clear, we offer some examples of who is responsible for what. If a tenant is playing cricket in the backyard and hits the ball through the window – this is the tenant’s responsibility.

If a tree branch goes through the same window in a storm, even if the putty loosens up and the window falls out – this is the landlord’s responsibility. Having said that, often accidental broken glass, including shower glass, is covered under insurance.

If a tenant goes on a rampage and kicks holes in walls and doors, this is called malicious damage. Some insurance companies do not cover damage caused in this way.

We will address malicious damage in following posts.

Rent or Buy In Bunbury

The number one question we have to answer is should you buy or rent a property when you live in, or move to our beautiful part of the world. The picturesque countryside and the amazing ocean views along this part of Western Australia are to die for and are well sort after. The staff members of Bunbury Real Estate feel very blessed to reside in this part of the country.

The ratio of property to viewings for either rent or sale is amazing. It is a big decision to make – do you rent or do you buy?

Sort Out Your Finances

The first thing you must do is to have a good hard look at your finances to see what you can afford. The average median price of a home in this area can set you back anywhere between $350,000 and $710,000 depending on the style and size of home you are seeking and which part of this area you wish to settle in. Obviously, coastal properties attract a higher value due to their rare and unique qualities.

Repayments on $350,000 at 5% interest will attract repayments of around $450 per week. Repayments of $700,000 at the same interest rate are around $920 per week. The average rent on the other hand can range between $350 and $450 per week.

The attention you give to this one thing may be all you need to help you make your decision about whether to rent or buy. For those who wish to go deeper, you need to consider if you want an asset which may tie you down or the freedom of renting.

Asset vs. Freedom

Most of us know that owning the right real estate can only be a good thing. Without a doubt it is the safest place to invest your money. What you must understand is that buying real estate is termed a long-term investment. This means that the longer you hold your asset the more value it will achieve.

Yes, it has been known for property to double or even triple its value in a very short period of time but real estate usually takes about a 7-10 year cycle to gather any real momentum.

As a tenant you are free, within the confines of your lease, to vacate at will and move to another home without the worries of selling your current home before moving and juggling all that it entails.

A coastal change can happen in the blink of an eye when you are a tenant.


Handling Damage to Rentals

As a lessor of a property, you want your tenant to take good care of the premises during the entire tenancy period. But there is no guarantee that there will be no damage to the property at the end of the lease agreement. Even if you have made sure that the tenant is responsible and of good reputation, there are accidental damages that could happen to the premises.

Differentiate Types of Damages

As a lessor, you should know that damages to rental properties are not all the same. It can be accidental such as when the tenant accidentally spills wine on the carpet or upholstery, or when a window gets accidentally broken. There is also malicious damage, where the tenant acted irresponsibly, leading to the damage. One good example is a tenant kicking the door to force it open. If the tenant acted with ill will, then you can consider this as malicious.

Another type of damage is regular wear-and-tear, which the tenant can do little to prevent. This can include paint colour fading and diminishing quality of floor surfaces and other furniture in the premises.

Make Clear Lease Provisions

To help ensure that the tenant will take good care of the property during the term of the tenancy, it is important to make clear provisions in the lease agreement. Sit down with the tenant to discuss their responsibilities under the agreement.

Be as specific as possible with the provisions that you provide in the lease. For instance, if you do not want tenants to punch holes into the walls, state so in the lease. You should also let the tenant know the repercussions of breaking the provisions involving alterations and damage to the property. Typically, the security deposit is kept to cover for any damage that the tenant caused. If the tenant knows this, then they will be more careful not to damage any part of the rental.

If you are not up to explaining or sitting down with the tenant, our property manager at Bunbury Real Estate can handle the discussion with the tenant.

Conduct Regular Inspections

It will help to conduct regular inspections to see if the tenant is in fact taking care of the rental property. At Bunbury Real Estate, we can help you with all aspects of the management of your investment property, including inspection of the premises. You can leave it to us to set up a schedule with your tenant for the regular inspection.

Inspections will give you a better insight on how the tenant is treating the property. In addition, the inspection will also let you know if there are parts of the premises that will need repair or preventive maintenance.

Property Valuations VS Appraisal: Knowing the Difference

Your property is a big investment, so as much as possible you will want to protect your investment. To protect your investment, you must have a clear idea of how much its value has gone up or down. That way, you will be able to make the necessary upgrade or renovation to make sure that your property is competitive when you put it up for sale in the market.

To get an idea of the value of your property, you can get valuation or appraisal from an expert. Many people tend to use these terms interchangeably, but actually they are not the same. There may be a time when you will need an actual valuation and not just an appraisal. Here is a quick distinction of the two terms to help you out.

Property Appraisal

Appraisal can be considered as an educated guess. This is a good estimate of how much your property would be worth. Out trusted agents at Bunbury Real Estate can assist you should you need an appraisal of your property. Our agents have a broad and extensive knowledge of the real estate market in the area and they use this knowledge to provide a good estimate of the value of your property.

At Bunbury Real Estate, we provide you a hassle-free way of getting a good estimate of your property via our free online appraisal service. You simply need to provide a few details about your property and one of our real estate agents will make an assessment of your property. Our agent will compare your property with other similar properties in your area to give you a good idea of how much your property should be worth.

Property Valuation

Property appraisal is a good estimation of the property’s value, but there will come a time when you will need more than just an estimate. At such a time, you will need to get a property valuation. This can only be provided by a registered and licensed property valuer. Property valuation is a systematic process to come up with the actual value of the property. This needs to be done by an unbiased party and involves a complex process.

During property valuation, different factors come into play, including the location of the property, the condition of the property, features of the property, encumbrances, damages and any other factors that will affect the value of the property.

Property valuation is usually required when obtaining financing from a lender or when determining the value of the estate of a deceased individual.

In essence, the difference between appraisal and valuation is simple. Appraisal is a good, informal guide that you can use to price your property, whereas valuation is something that is legally acceptable and accurate.

What Do Appraisers Look For During Home Appraisals?

If you are selling or buying a property, one of the items you are likely to be focused on is the price of the property. This will be the case if you are selling a home and you are hoping to receive a particular amount of money from the sale. For the price of your home to be determined, you will need the help of an appraiser.

Bunbury Real Estate offers a free appraisal service in the Bunbury area. Our team of expert appraisers can provide you with a realistic price for your property, based on existing market value in the area as well as other factors that affect property prices. Contact Bunbury Real Estate for free appraisal of properties in Bunbury, Eaton, Australind, Dalyellup, Busselton and Capel.

It will be beneficial if you know what appraisers are looking for when they put a price on a property. This way, you will have a chance to make changes that will positively impact the pricing of your property. Here are some of the items to be mindful about.

Property Size

The first major item that our appraisers check is the size of the property, noting the number of rooms, beds, bathrooms as well as the size of those rooms. If your house is spacious and has a good number of rooms, then it will most likely be priced higher. The property size is just one factor, however. You will still have to look into other items that will affect the price of your home. It is very possible that you will get a low price for your big home if the other items on the appraiser’s checklist are below standard.

Curb Appeal

You should not ignore your front yard because this is one of the top items in the appraiser’s checklist. You will be amazed to know how little improvements in your front yard and backyard can jack up the price of your property. The improvements need not be expensive. Clean the yard, clip branches, improve the pathway and incorporate some interesting plants to offer a better first impression with potential buyers.

Interior Quality

Your property will be priced higher if the interior looks spacious and has a cohesive design. Check the condition of the structure, the walls, floors, doors and windows and make sure that there is no damage. It will benefit you if you upgrade any portion of the interior that looks outdated. It may be a simple case of removing old and worn out carpets or repainting the walls.


Our appraisers will definitely take into account any additions that you have incorporated into the house. This may be a deck area, outdoor kitchen, gazebo or swimming pool. If you have made the additions or improvements after purchasing the property, then you will have to let the appraiser know of the particular upgrades that you have done.