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.

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.

Looking To Share Your Rental? This Could Be Helpful

Accommodation is a major cost that puts pressure on most household budgets, and the most common way of spreading that cost around is to share space in your home with other people. If you are offering to share with a relative or long-term friend, you already know a lot about them, their ability to pay the rent and to be a responsible housemate.

House Sharing with Strangers can be Rewarding

Often though, sharing arrangements involve rental properties and total strangers. The fact that these arrangements usually work out well for everyone is testimony to the inherent goodwill in most people. Lifetime friendships and many romantic relationships are often forged in these circumstances. However, there are other times when things begin well but deteriorate quickly.

Check the Legal Issues First

If you are already renting a property and need some help with the rent, there are a few things to know before you invite someone else to share. You have already signed an agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. If you sublet without first securing the approval of the lessor, you may be in breach of that agreement.

Tenant is Responsible for any Nuisance or Illegal Activity

We cannot give any guarantees here that approval would or would not be given as every case is different. If Bunbury Real Estate was managing the property, we would contact our lessor for approval. If that was given, we would advise our tenants that they are responsible for anyone they allow onto the premises. They must make sure that anyone there does not create a nuisance for neighbours, or use the premises for anything illegal.

Select Housemates Carefully

We would also suggest that they treat the search for a housemate like a job interview. For security, arrange to meet applicants somewhere public like a park or café. Spend some time with the different applicants, as you are assessing if they will fit into your home environment.

Get some background information by asking specific questions. Do they smoke, for example, or play their music loud? Do they have any pets who need to be included, how much space do they need for their possessions; do they cook or entertain friends?

Very Important – Check References for a Positive Sharing Experience

Our most important requirement would be to get references from other tenancies or share houses they have occupied. These documents are easy to fake, so take that next step and make personal contact with the referees. This could prevent all sorts of problems.

What you want is a reliable, easy-going person to help with expenses, not a lazy troublemaker. When the people who share your rental are compatible, you will have no trouble with your property manager, and there will be more money in your pocket at the end of the month.

Looking To Buy An Apartment? Here’s Some Good Advice

Buying property is a major financial commitment, so it is surprising that many people start the search for their ideal home without having made some important decisions beforehand. How it will be financed, the size of the deposit, the location, desired features, whether it will be a free standing property or an apartment are all decisions that should be driving the search process.

What is a Strata Title?

If the choice is made to buy an apartment, buyers unfamiliar with the concept of strata title should seek out knowledge about this type of ownership. The best decisions are informed ones so people looking at just the advantages of group living should also consider any disadvantages, to ensure that they are happy with the final choice.

Know What You Want Before You Start Looking

Apartment living suits many people for a range of reasons, but before rushing off to buy the first one you see, take some advice from our experienced sales people at Bunbury Real Estate. Make a list of the things you absolutely must have in an apartment, the things that would be nice but are not essential, and most important, what you definitely don’t want.

This helps everyone involved to focus on the target and reduces the frustration buyers feel when inexperienced selling agents take them to properties that are never going to be suitable. Having said that, also consider the possibility that the perfect apartment may not be available right where you want to live.

Can you Compromise to Get What You Want?

To prepare yourself for this eventuality there are a couple of strategies to consider. Realise that you may have to compromise. Look through your list of absolute musts to see if there are a couple of things you could live without. At the same time, go through the things you don’t want and imagine what it would be like if you had to live with one of them. It might not be so bad, and could give you the keys to everything else you desire.

Great Apartment – Poor Management. Is this a Problem?

Ask questions about the strata management of the building. This is important but is often overlooked by over-eager buyers. The apartment might look perfect and have everything you want, but if the complex itself is poorly managed, there could be problems maintaining and using the common areas, or financial issues with the Council.

Inspect the common areas as well as the apartment itself, because once you have purchased, you are also a part owner of these. Is the pool clean, are the parking areas marked, does the fencing need attention, have the lawns and gardens been maintained, are the stairwells and lifts clean?

Be Informed and Enjoy the Chase

We can help you find your perfect apartment, but if you are well informed and clear about what you want, you will enjoy the searching process just as much as finally moving in.

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.

Shared Living – Hell Or Paradise?

A broad percentage of the myriad of people we call tenants are not your average family unit. Mum, dad, kids, pet.

For some, it may be the extended family, which could include one or more grandparents, an aunt, or uncle even.

For some it may be a couple of single mums, or two or three singles sharing a home. This may be for a number of reasons and Bunbury Real Estate enjoy the experience of the many personalities that come through our door sharing their attitudes, beliefs and recipes!

So what is it that drives people to shared living and how can you make the best of it?

Helps out With the Children and Saves Money

It may be that grandparents are living in a shared situation to help their children out with their own children. The simple pleasures of being close can be cherished. Obviously, there is a financial benefit that cannot be overlooked, that is, sharing of a home and its associated expenses.

Trying to Save a Deposit for a House

Some young people have chosen to move back into their family home in an effort to save the money required to put down a deposit on a home of their own.

Singles Sharing the Load

The single life has many freedoms but does not necessarily mean that you want or have to live on your own. The major drawcard to singles sharing together is to improve their living environment. Two or three people sharing a four-bedroom home allows them the space and freedom and saves a whole heap of cash to boot.

Living in a shared house environment can open the doors to many and more experiences, jobs, relationships, bargains, parties. The list goes on and on.

Dealing With the Bumps in the Road

It does not matter how close you are or how much you love each other or even how detached you can make yourself. The fact is that energies of all sorts can run a little high when they all come together.

When you share with anyone it is important to always stay in allowance of them as a person. This is the only way you can be in a position to expect it for yourself.

Without judgement and an understanding of each other’s personality traits, likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses you will all be in a much better position to solve issues and create meaningful procedures and relationships that complement you as a team.

Finding The Perfect Family Home – To Rent

Finding the perfect family home can be a challenge.

Mum is looking for a nice kitchen and somewhere to conduct her favourite hobby whether it be tending the vegetable garden or creating amazing water colours.

Dad is looking for that all important shed, a good ADSL connection and somewhere to play a lazy game of pool on a Sunday afternoon – whilst keeping in mind what mum wants of course!

The children will desire something different again. Swimming pools, open spaces, skate and sport parks, cinemas and shopping all figure large on their list.

When you are looking for the perfect family home in the rental market it requires just a little more finessing.

Sometimes, if you have the time, it can be beneficial for you to consider what is available to you on the market at a particular time and perhaps decide to wait to see what may come up.

There is always something coming up and if you have the time it can pay big dividends.

Living in a Rental Home is Easy and Offers Freedom

Living in a rental home means you will be living with it as you find it. There is no opportunity for you to knock down walls to make rooms bigger and really no chance of any major redecoration, extensions or additions, apart from perhaps receiving a lick of paint or some new curtains.

This does not mean that a good landlord will not consider requests for refurbishment or improvement. Even little things such as adding ceiling fans can make a difference to you and your family’s’ wellbeing without breaking the landlord’s bank, so don’t be scared to ask.

The upside is that you don’t have to worry or even consider carrying out any seriously expensive transformations. Imagine how freeing that feeling is!

This feeling of freedom is not a feeling most property owner’s experience. Most have dreams and want to improve on something somewhere, which will always mean digging into the back pocket.

The fully trained and professional staff members at Bunbury Real Estate understand that renting a family home is a big and very important commitment so we are pleased to take on board feedback and any requests you may have and take them back to the property owner for proper consideration.